Operation Consolidate Devices…

Has been a resounding success for the most part.  (Also some minor blog housekeeping notes.)

I just need to sell the iPad Mini 2 (hopefully at work this week).

The plan: Sell the iPad Mini 2 and the Macbook Air 11″ and go to only the following:

  • Desktop that my ex and I built. It runs Windows 10 right now; it’s run Windows versions 7, 8.1, and now 10, as well as varying versions of Ubuntu.
  • Dell XPS 13 that I bought in March. I got it from rich_h_ in #ubuntu-us-mi (the Ubuntu MI LUG group). It runs Ubuntu 15.04 and it’s the right balance of size, speed, and weight to transport home or to other places.
  • iPad Air 2 that I just bought to replace the Mini 2. It’s a sweet, skinny machine that runs iOS 8 and all of my apps blazing fast.
  • My phone which is a Samsung SIII. I am looking at other phones/plans possibly to update to next year sometime. It works and runs what I need it to.

I’ve sold the Macbook Air to a friend. Got a fair price for it.

So. Yes. I’m trying to have fewer devices to organize and take care of and keep updated. This will work in my favor, I do believe.

For the record, I’m keeping iOS, Ubuntu, Android (well this doesn’t really count), and Windows 10 up to date and running without any issues.

I will have a quick review or whatever about my impressions of the iPad, but honestly, it’s like the iPad Mini 2 except with touch ID and larger.  I dunno.  It’s a slim slab of glass that you touch to interact with it.  It’s great but there’s not a lot to really get into.


Also, a short aside, I apologize for the double posts over here.  I was experimenting with Medium and I’d not pulled my IFTTT connection before I did that and… it posted the stuff I pulled over there.  I’m impressed with it as a writing and reading platform but it’s not really… extensible.  Like WordPress.  I dunno.  We will see… I might publish some stuff over there and have it cross post to here.

Back to Ubuntu

Well, not completely back, as I’m also running my Windows desktop and my Macbook Air. But yes, I’ve got an Ubuntu laptop now!

rick_h_ in #ubuntu-us-mi put his Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition up for sale (2014 model, so only like 9 months old) and I bought it.

It has a high definition touch screen, a 128 gb SSD, 8 gb of RAM, and runs Ubuntu 14.10 like a champ. I’ve finally got it all set up with most of the software I need (Chrome, Trillian, Geary, Corebird, Hexchat, and Dropbox) and I’m really really liking it.

Physically, this computer is great. The keyboard is very solid and the touchpad has a very satisfying click to it. Not as satisfying as the Macbook touchpad, but Apple really has perfected the touchpad and I’m not sure there are better ones anywhere. The screen is VERY nice and has a very good pixels-per-inch. This is a high-def screen, and the quality really shows. I don’t use the touch aspect of it much but it’s handy if you’re browsing a site and want to scroll down.

There’s a soft-touch material around the keyboard and where you rest your palms. Surprisingly, it picks up oils and dust and stuff, which I’m not happy about, but it is very comfortable to rest my palms on. The lid is aluminum. The hinge has absolutely NO wiggle when you raise the screen up and set it to position. I’m super pleased with the quality and fit and finish of this laptop. Dell really has done a nice job with this machine and is making a name for themselves for more quality goods instead of being a budget supplier. Granted, they still have budget options, but this is a great machine and a consumer shouldn’t make their decision based on a super cheap model.

There are some niggles, just like any linux laptop, but the main one came when I got it: the BIOS did this strange thing wherein it said “No operating system found”. After you got that, just hit “enter” and it boots normally. Well I figured it out. You have to start up the laptop and mash F12 to get to the BIOS menu, then make sure secure boot is on and the UEFI is set to run Ubuntu. If you need to reinstall, go back into the BIOS and set the Legacy boot mode on and set the USB to boot first. After you install and everything is working, then turn the Legacy boot back off and pick Ubuntu.

Another couple of niggles would possibly be the fact that there’s no native Evernote or Wunderlist support. To get around this, I’m using the chrome apps. They’re super easy to create (install the app in chrome, then open it in a new window, and then pin it to the Unity bar). They’re accessible. I’m not sure if I will have access to them without internet, but it’s not a major inconvenience if I don’t. Evernote kind of is, but I can type up a note in a text document and then paste it into Evernote when I get back to a place that has “the cloud”.

What I love the most about Ubuntu is how easy it is, especially now with all of the improvements that keep coming.

I’m not sure about Wayland, but I doubt it will make a huge difference to an end user. If there are issues, I will surely report bugs.

Speaking of bugs, I want to get back involved with the bugsquad! I’ve been lax in helping them recently (work, Nile, having a relationship, then not, and regular self-care) but hope to get back into it. I need to setup my SSH keys and upload them to Launchpad.

Anyway, how about a screenshot?

Screenshot from 2015-03-29 22:12:44

I’m using the Libra GTK3 theme as well as the numix-circle icons. They are awesome. I like customizing my setup a little bit, and linux allows me to do that. Unity isn’t as customizable as say… KDE, but it’s got a very simple and clean layout to start with, and that’s what I really like about it. I do a few things immediately, like resize the launcher, remove all of the Libreoffice icons from the launcher, add the workspaces button, add a terminal button, and then start installing the apps I need. And then I’m up and running very quickly with a full setup.

I’m just really liking this machine. Worth what I paid and I’m liking getting back into ubuntu again.

Android Phone Dump: March 2015

Last year, I got sick of my LG not updating due to lack of space on the onboard memory (really, an android phone should have a MINIMUM of 8 GB onboard; this had a paltry 4 GB and I was running out of space daily) so I broke down and bought a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

It’s a good phone.  Not the highest of the high class, but a robust phone that’s running Android KitKat (and might get Lollipop; we will see) that has 16 GB of onboard space and has sweet 4g connections due to the upgrades at work.  Ahem.

Anyway, I’m rocking the Google Launcher (fuck Touchwhiz) and I’ve got the “OK Google” down for directions and for internet searches.  I love it.  I love “OK Google,” I love the quick right swipe to get to my Google Now cards, I love the simplicity of the whole thing.

Also the phone is a decent size, compared to what else is out there.  No, I do not want a LARGER phone.  This is about as big as I’d like it… the huge size and the super high price tag (seriously, $600) was the reason I did not go for the Samsung S5 when I was in Best Buy and picked this one up.  Bigger isn’t always better; I want my phone to fit in my pockets.  I’m a chick, so pockets are small and in short supply in my pants.

But anyway.  Performance of this thing is awesome.  You can read and watch all the reviews online; I’m not going to rehash it here.  Suffice it to say, I’ve had no problems with it (unless I push it while it’s in a case… the battery gets hot and the phone will restart if it gets too hot.  I let it cool and all is good).

Now for a quick explanation showing how I’ve setup the home screens:

2015-03-04 01.22.36 Here is the main screen.  I’m using the Dashclock widget on my homescreen because I lock my phone with a pattern, so it won’t work there.  But anyway, I’ve got weather, my Wunderlist tasks, a battery info widget, and bluetooth information active right now.  If I’m playing a song or podcast, it shows that as well as upcoming calendar appointments, missed calls, and any hangouts messages.  You can really configure this widget to work for you and you don’t need a million widgets cluttering up your screen serving you information.  This is all contained and I can resize it to suit my whims if I want it smaller.

In the dock area I’ve got my dialer, hangouts, the home button to get me to my app launcher thing, Blue Mail which is now Type Mail (I’ve no clue why they’ve changed the name, but it’s an awesome email app), and Firefox.  I’ll have another post detailing why I’ve switched from Chrome/Chromium to Firefox, but suffice it to say, I was having issues with Chrome and Firefox is working well.

Screen number two:

2015-03-04 01.22.43

Starting at the top, I have a flashlight widget (very handy) and my Noom Walking widget (this is not accurate as I walked a bunch without my phone today).  Next row is Google’s Camera app, Instagram, Roku, and a bunch of games in a folder.  The last row is a folder with my social apps (Untappd, AndroIRC, Swarm, Google+, Fenix, Facebook, Tumblr, Facebook Messenger), my “wallet” folder (Authy, Google Wallet, Chase, Evernote and Meijer), my “Music” folder (Play Music, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Pandora, SomaFM), and then finally my “Web” folder (BaconReader [Reddit app], Flipboard, gReader Pro, Pocket).

I will also be resurrecting my “Android App Series” and making an entry for Pocket Casts, but it’s probably the best podcasting app I’ve used on Android, IOS, AND browser.  Yes, they all cost, but I’m hoping that by paying I won’t lose the syncing that is crucial for my podcast listening.

I do not remember where I got the background from, but it was probably NASA or something like that.

Anyway, my phone (pocket computer?) is simple, quick, and multifunctional!  It also makes and takes phone calls, so there’s that too.

Let’s Talk About Pocket

Pocket, the web bookmarking service, is an invaluable tool for me (and many others) to hold temporary bookmarks. I’m using ifttt to copy my “starred” articles to pinboard, which is my favored bookmarking service.

I really like pocket. I had an account when it was “Read it Later” and I never really got into it. I don’t think I really got it because I wanted something that would sync between my different browsers. It didn’t work that way so quit using it in favor of Instapaper.

I love this service. It is awesome to read things on my phone and ipad because it strips out extraneous formatting and makes it much easier to read. Also, it’s perfect for temporary bookmarks. If I’m reading something in my RSS reader and I want to save it for later I can just send it to my Pocket account. Then the articles sit there waiting for me to have 5 or 10 minutes to read something.

This service is something that is totally worth trying out.  They have apps for your android device, Mac, ipad/iphone, and Chrome.

What’s on my Tablet, September Edition

I haven’t done a lot of writing about my iPad recently, and I’ve especially not done a roundup of my favorite and most used apps.

Here we go!

First, a screenshot:

I have an Adventure Time wallpaper that I found online.  I’m wondering if I should try something like Launch Center Pro.  But I digress.

Along the bottom you’ll see BoxerPocket, iBooks, Reeder 2, and Hangouts.  They are probably my most used apps, with the exception of Chrome.

Along the top I have the calendar app, Yahoo Weather (an awesome weather app that allows for multiple locations, my “Web” folder, which contains the following:

  • BaconReader (Reddit app)
  • Google+
  • Twitterific
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • GoodReads
  • Wikipedia
  • Google Search
  • Mail
  • Facetime
  • Messages
  • Safari
  • Xkit

I am thinking of moving BaconReader (which I will do full review of soon) out of my web fodler and into the bottom “dock” but I’m not sure.  It’s an awesome Reddit reader; I use it on my android phone too.  Most of those apps are standard things that most tablets will have.  I don’t use the last five apps as much.  Xkit isn’t robust enough on the iPad for regular use for Tumblr, but once it gets updated it will be.

My “Games” folder is next to my “Web” folder.  I’m not going to go through the games that I have, but suffice it to say that I have a few and I love each of them, from Candy Crush to Smule.

The next row is my “Entertainment” folder and I have the following in it:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu+
  • TuneIn
  • Spotify
  • Pandora
  • 8Tracks
  • Play Music
  • Roku
  • MetroTimes
  • WatchESPN
  • PBS
  • TitanTV (TV grid for OTA/Cable listings)
  • Youtube
  • Videos
  • Music
  • Podcasts

I don’t use the standard Apple Videos, Music, or Podcasts apps, but all the others I get a decent amount of use from.  They are mostly self-explanatory.  MetroTimes is a local alt newspaper in the Metro Detroit area that has local events and some cool writeups about local interests (DEMF and Movement come to mind).

The next folder houses the following under “Utiliities”:

  • M. Cycles
  • Google Maps
  • Chase
  • OverDrive
  • iTunes Store
  • Camera
  • Photos
  • Swiftkey (awesome keyboard app that I use here plus on my android phone)
  • Other iPad apps that I don’t use: Contacts, Notes, Photo Booth, Clock, Maps, Reminders, Newsstand, Tips.

Next is “Productivity”:

  • Evernote
  • Evernote Food
  • Penultimate
  • Skitch
  • UFYH
  • Dropbox

I love the Evernote suite of apps (Evernote, Food, Penultimate, Skitch).  They’re awesome for the iPad, phone, or an Android tablet.  UFYH I bought to support the blog that I use daily and for motivation for keeping my habitat picked up. Dropbox is indespensible for anyone who has more than one internet connected device.

Lastly, I have a guitar tuner (that I use for my ukulele!); Groove Bank, which is a drum machine that can keep me on beat for my uke playing; and Chrome.  I don’t use safari because I need bookmark and tab syncing between devices.

The second page just holds my Settings and App Store icons.

A tablet is a really personal setup.  I have what I need where I need it.  I like to keep things in folders to keep the front page sort of clear so I can see the awesome background I have.