Droid Razr HD by Motorola: Best Android phone available?

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My partner and I purchased Motorola Razr HDs last weekend. I opted for white, he for black. We also bought Otter Box cases to make sure our phones stay protected in the event of an accidental drop.

We went into the local Verizon store with the intentions of buying two Samsung Galaxy SIII’s, but quickly changed our minds after talking with a couple of salespersons. Both said the S3 gets returned frequently because of reception issues, and both recommended anything by Motorola. After comparing the phones, reading multiple online reviews (many mentioned reception issues), and realizing the phones had essentially the same specs on hardware and size (although the Motorola has a much higher build quality), we decided the Razr HD was the phone for us.

I love my phone so far. The battery life is crazy, and it isn’t unusual for me to have 50% battery life left at the end of the day. I also love the screen and the sturdy build. Most of the internal elements have a water-proof coating, the backing is Kevlar, it has solid aluminum edges, and the screen is made from scratch-resistant Gorilla glass. This phone also has the purest Android experience available outside of buying a Google Nexus.

The Razr HD features an 8 megapixel camera, a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, a 4.7 inch Super AMOLED display, a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 16GB internal hard drive. It currently runs the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android’s operating system, but has been promised an upgrade to Jelly Bean before year end.

All in all, I am very happy we went with this phone over the Samsung Galaxy SIII. If you are considering an Android smartphone, this little gem deserves your consideration.

‘My Friend Michael’ by Frank Cascio

This was, quite possibly, the best book I have ever read about Michael Jackson. Mr. Cascio has given the world a very special gift with his insightful stories as he paints a beautiful and vivid picture of a very real, very complicated human being. I have been a fan for 20 years and I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about Michael, but this book has changed my perception of the superstar on so many levels. Thanks, Frank!

The purpose of art

“The purpose of art is to comfort the afflicted, and to afflict the comfortable.”

That quote was posted in the comments section over at Fighting Windmills several months ago, and it crossed my mind this evening after watching a foreign film that left me feeling quite uncomfortable.

The Bubble tells the rather tortured love story of two men living in Israel – one Palestinian and one Jewish. The conflict between their two regions threatens to tear them apart at every turn, but they struggle through, determined to have a relationship despite the odds. The shocking ending left me feeling terribly disturbed, sheltered, and thankful to be living in a country where my problems are more like minor inconveniences when compared to other parts of the world.

A review of Verizon’s LG Chocolate 3 VX8560

After two months and four different cell phones, I have finally found one that makes me happy. It is the new LG Chocolate 3 – a bluetooth music phone.

While I like phones that provide some level of entertainment, this is first and foremost an excellent phone. The call quality is great, the speakers and volume controls are nice and loud, and battery life is exceptional.

Design

The form factor has changed from the second generation Chocolate (VX8550), transforming from a slider into a clamshell. I’ve been rather partial to slider phones, but the transition to my first flip-phone has been quite painless. I love the large screen on the outside that displays important phone information and is customizable with full-color backgrounds. I chose the black version of the phone and although it is so shiny that it attracts fingerprints, I like the way the outside screen practically disappears when inactive. I also was glad to see that the back of the phone is made of a soft touch material that feels great in the hand and should resist scratches.

The inside screen is beautiful, bright, and easy to read. The menus have been greatly improved over the last Chocolate, and I found the directional pad much easier to use than the navigation wheel on the previous generation. Those who are partial to the older Chocolate’s navigation wheel will be pleased to find a similar wheel placed prominently under the outside screen which allows the user to scroll through options while the phone is closed.

The keypad on this phone is one of the most spacious that I have seen. It should be extremely easy for anyone with large fingers to use the phone for dialing or texting.

Features

This phone has been designed to render your digital music player completely unnecessary. Not only does it have a whopping 1GB of memory built right in, it also supports adding microSD cards up to 8GB. Popular music formats are supported, including mp3, wma, and unprotected AAC and AAC+. The music player works flawlessly and can even be used while texting or browsing the web. Sound quality is excellent and many will appreciate the inclusion of a standard size headphone jack.

The phone includes a 2.0 megapixel camera and camcorder that supports photos up to 1600×1200 and videos up to 320×240. A basic photo editor is included for zooming, rotating, and cropping pictures.

This device seems less restricted by Verizon’s firmware than previous phones, as I was able to send an mp3 directly to the phone from an AT&T device – something that was impossible on the VX8550. A USB cable that doubles as a charger is included with the phone and allows syncing of music or access to the microSD card from your computer. While Verizon still restricts using stored mp3s as ringtones, I have been able to easily drag-and-drop files directly into my ringtones folder using BitPim.

The coolest feature on the phone has got to be the FM transmitter. You can tune to any unused FM station on your car stereo, set the phone to the same station, and listen to the music that you’ve stored on the phone through your car stereo speakers.

Final Thoughts

I adore this phone. It’s a delicious-looking number that does exactly what it’s supposed to. Even though the last several weeks of trying to find a suitable phone and wireless provider have been rather stressful, I am glad that I stumbled across this little gem.

Additional Photos

Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ celebrates 25 years

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From Amazon.com:

Should several of the tracks on the 25th anniversary edition of Thriller find their way onto your MP3 player, you’re going to have to admit: the music holds up. “Beat It” is not about to go stale, at least not without a rumble, and neither are “Billie Jean” and “P.Y.T.” Even if you put the record-hurtling hits aside, you’re still left with the realization that without MJ, there might not have been a JT [Justin Timberlake], never mind a Ne-Yo (listen closely to “Human Nature” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”). The bonus DVD bundled with the expanded CD includes a digitally redone version of the famous title-track video, among other clips, and it still astonishes with its choreography and attitude. As for the new tracks–Fergie inserts herself into “Beat It,” Will.i.am takes on “The Girl Is Mine” and “P.Y.T.,” Kanye West remixes “Billie Jean” (with characteristically subtle brilliance), Akon duets with M-Jack on “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” and the unreleased ballad “For All Time” (from the original Thriller sessions) is shined up and tacked on–they will suck you in like it was pop music’s hugest year, 1983, all over again. Start brushing up on your moonwalk now. –Tammy La Gorce

‘Michael Jackson Conspiracy’ by Aphrodite Jones: A review

“Look at the true spirit of happiness and joy in these boys’ faces. This is the spirit of boyhood, a life I never had and will always dream of. This is the life I want for my children.”

This inscription by Michael Jackson was found inside a book presented as evidence in Jackson’s child molestation trial. It was a very small piece in a larger puzzle that enabled jurors a glimpse inside the mind of one of entertainment’s most enigmatic superstars.

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The book I just finished, Michael Jackson Conspiracy by Aphrodite Jones, revealed much about this trial and icon that was never reported in the mainstream media. In fact, she was working as a professional analyst on the trial, often reporting on CNN and Fox News, and was initially convinced that Michael Jackson deserved to go to jail. After sitting in the courtroom and hearing daily evidence, she soon decided that Jackson was being falsely accused.

She spoke of the obvious bias in the media towards Michael, how they would use camera angles and lighting effects to accentuate his facial features or alter his skin tone. Jones revealed that all the hours and money the media pumped into covering the trial was a gamble that would only pay off if Michael Jackson went to jail. There were over 2,000 reporters in Santa Barbara, and plans were already in place for insider reports from the jail where he would be housed. When he was acquitted, the media was dumbfounded and quickly left Santa Barbara.

Given the obvious bias present in the media, it should surprise no one that very few Americans had the opportunity to hear any of the evidence or testimony that supported Michael’s innocence. It is also unsurprising that when the author decided to write this book, she said that no publisher would touch it. She wound up publishing it herself, because she was convinced this man was innocent and people should hear the truth.

Here are a few of the things that were rarely (if ever) reported:

  • The family of the accuser, the Arvizos, had a track record of accusing people of sexual and physical abuse. The mother, Janet, had made similar charges against her estranged ex-husband. She had also accused guards at a J.C. Penney’s store of accosting her in the parking lot, where she said that one guard removed her bra and pinched her nipple 25 times. She testified that her son, Gavin (Jackson’s accuser), had to put her breast back into her bra after the assault.
  • Janet Arvizo claimed that Michael Jackson was holding her prisoner at Neverland in order to prevent her from talking to the media. In fact, receipts and security logs proved that she often left the ranch for full-body waxes, manicures, shopping, and dental visits – all on Michael’s dime. She also testified that she “escaped” from Neverland three different times, only to return again in a few days.
  • Gavin’s taped testimony to police and his testimony in court contradicted each other. He changed the amount of times that he claimed to be fondled. He claimed he couldn’t remember important events. He did not appear to be emotionally upset when detailing his alleged molestation to the jury.
  • Almost every single witness that the prosecution called to the stand wound up enraging the DA when they corroborated evidence presented by the defense. Many of them praised Michael Jackson as a wonderful human being. That included most of his staff and his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, who was in the middle of a custody battle with him over their two children.
  • Witnesses who took the stand to report unsubstantiated claims of inappropriate conduct by Michael Jackson were proven to have a financial motive. Some had already sold their stories to tabloids or previously sued Mr. Jackson for wrongful termination. One maid and two security guards who testified against Michael had already lost their civil case against him and had been ordered to pay Jackson’s court costs.
  • Several celebrities had been victims of the Arvizo family before Michael Jackson ever encountered them. They included Chris Tucker and George Lopez. Both testified that the family had pressured them for money and claimed they couldn’t afford Gavin’s cancer treatments. It was later discovered that he had been covered by his father’s insurance the entire time. Larry King and Jay Leno also testified for the defense.
  • Previous allegations were allowed into evidence in an attempt to show a pattern of conduct by Mr. Jackson. The prosecution claimed that five boys were molested by Michael Jackson in the past. Three of those five boys testified in Michael Jackson’s defense, claiming that nothing sexual had ever happened. Macaulay Culkin, one of the so-called victims, testified that the prosecution had never even contacted him prior to publicly declaring him a “victim.” The two remaining young men had both received multi-million dollar settlements and one refused to testify in this trial.
  • Michael’s lead attorney, Thomas Mesereau, revealed that the only reason that Michael had paid out settlements in the past was because his business associates had advised him to “pay to make it go away”. They had money invested in Jackson and wanted him to focus on making a return on that investment instead of spending time and money defending himself in court.
  • Janet Arvizo, who many observers felt had played a large role in creating the accusations, admitted on the stand to lying under oath in a separate case. She also invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions about welfare fraud, which she was later convicted of.
  • Of the scores of pornographic magazines admitted into evidence, none of them depicted children. In fact, they bolstered Michael’s assertions that he is a heterosexual male.
  • The time-line was considered quite strange, as the family claimed that Michael molested the boy after an interview on ABC had aired showing Michael Jackson holding hands with Gavin and after a public firestorm of controversy about his relationship with the boy had erupted. If one were to believe the prosecutor, Michael molested Gavin during a time that he was so worried about his image that he was holding the Arvizos hostage and planning to fly them out of Neverland in a hot-air balloon.

I make no apologies for being a Michael Jackson fan or for being profoundly happy when he was found innocent of these charges. However, I believe I have been able to look at the available evidence and make an unbiased decision on his guilt or innocence. Having read this book, I am thoroughly convinced that the jury made the right decision, and I’m glad that Ms. Jones had the courage to set the record straight.

Michael Jackson left the courtroom a broken man; one who may never reclaim the youthful innocence that catapulted him to the top of the charts and made him a household name, and whose career has probably suffered irreparable harm. He may have avoided years behind bars, but his world is another kind of prison – one where he is entrapped by a hungry media and the innuendo of a misinformed public.

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’10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (but Can’t Because He Needs the Job)’

I received and read this entire book this afternoon. Granted it isn’t very long at just over 100 pages, but it was so enjoyable that I couldn’t put it down.

As the inhabitants of a single speck of dirt hurtling through space at sixty thousand miles per hour around a nameless star that is one among billions of stars in a galaxy that is also one among billions, we humans get it. We’re not in charge.

So begins one chapter – a few sentences that puts everything into perspective and made me smile as I read them.

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10 Things Your Minister Wants To Tell You

  1. How It All Began
  2. Why We’re Here
  3. What Is The Bible?
  4. Is There Really Such A Thing As A Miracle?
  5. How Do I Please God?
  6. What About Women?
  7. What About Homosexuality?
  8. What About Other Faiths?
  9. What Happens After We Die?
  10. How Will It All End?

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in this book, just easy-to-understand and rational arguments explaining why the Bible is authoritative (but not infallible), women and homosexuals shouldn’t be discriminated against, and what the afterlife might be like. It gave me much to ponder and also validated some of the beliefs that I’ve already adopted as my own.

Highly recommended.