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.

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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.

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.

Oddish Tablet

Screenshot_2013-08-08-20-14-09

 

Oddish on my tablet!  I have the same iconset (Minimal UI) that I do on my phone.  I love this iconset; it’s very nice looking!  I’m still using Fancy Widgets and I love that widget program; it’s totally worth every penny.

The wallpaper is from the same site my other Pokemon wallpapers are from; see my last post about how to get it.

Anyway, I’m a huge fan of a team with multiple pokemon on it that can do different things; balance is key to a strong team.

New Phone Theme

Screenshot_2013-08-07-18-30-16

Changed my wallpaper to Piplup from Pokemon Pearl and kept everything the same except the ringtone and notification sound (Lavender Town Remix and Pikachu’s Victory respectively).  The music I got from Flashygoodness’ bandcamp.  The album is Super Smash Land Hidden Tracks and can be found here.

Pokemon pic can be found here.  Download all the pokemon in one .RAR file and add them to your desktop or phone.

As my dear readers can tell, I really like to change up my phone wallpaper and my ringtones and stuff.  With a smartphone, it’s really easy; I remember having to BUY ringtones on my old flip phone.  How far we’ve come.

Android App Series: gReader Pro

I know, I already reviewed Feedly, but I wanted something more “Google Reader” like so I decided to try this app out.

I initially tried the free version and it was awesome except for the ads along the bottom.  I still had some money left in my google play account (the absolute best way to deal with paid apps, in my opinion, but that’s another post) so I decided to “upgrade” to the paid version.

I’m so glad I did.

I don’t mind paying for apps.  It supports the development of great apps and it encourages the people behind the great apps to continue to update the apps and keep improving them.

Anyway, gReader Pro is a very good RSS app that has cloud Feedly support as well as The Old Reader syncing.  I use it to keep all my RSS feeds in line throughout my all my devices: Nexus 7, Samsung phone, and my computer (chrome browser on three systems).

Anyway, it’s got a great layout and is very easy to use.

Have a screenshot of the main page:

Screenshot_2013-08-06-21-09-24

This is what it looks like on my phone, the Samsung Galaxy Reverb.  It’s slightly bigger and whatnot on my tablet, but I’ll just be using the phone screenshots.

Hit “All Items” and get the following:

Screenshot_2013-08-06-21-10-06

 

You can press on an article to read it and from there, swipe from the right to the left to advance in the articles.  It’s very easy to use.

What I also like about it is that it has Evernote (through Everclip), Facebook, Twitter, G+, Pocket (Read it Later) and the Mobilizer in a quick menu that you get to with a tap on the article and then touching the “share” button.  Screenshot below:

Screenshot_2013-08-06-21-15-38

 

Tap any of those quick shortcuts and send directly from the app.   Unfortunately there is no “email” option, but you can use the menu next to it for that.

Anyway, if you want to check this app out, see the google play page here.  The Pro version costs something like $5 but that’s for the lifetime of the app and you shouldn’t have to pay again.  It’s not a subscription based service, so you don’t have to worry about being charged again.

 

Android Phone Theme

New phone screenshot!

This is using Nova Launcher and the Minimal UI iconset as well as Fancy Widgets Pro.

My wallpaper I got from google searching Cowboy Bebop pictures.

I’ve enabled the “unread counts” on Nova so I get that little flag on my gmail.

I’m using the black and white icons for the tray down there and the color icons for everything else.

Man I love this one and I’ll be keeping it around!

Android App Series: Swiftkey

Swiftkey is an app that I found that was touted by Lifehacker as the bee’s knees, so I had to try it.  I watched Lifehacker and pretty soon, it was on sale for something like $2 or $4; I cant remember.  So I picked it up.  I started using it on my old phone (an LG) and found that it was better in most ways from the stock keyboard as well as Swype.  So, I started using it more and more.

Cue my new phone.  This app was the first thing I installed, since I had gotten used to it.  It’s updated to v. 4, so now I have “flow” which allows you to slide your thumb around the board and spell out a word.  Swype has this, but it doesn’t seem to be as predictive as Swiftkey is, so I use the title app.

I’ve also installed it to my Nexus 7.  It works fine, although they want you to buy a special tablet version; if that version goes down in price, I would totally get it, but for now, the standard version works fine.

I find that the prediction is awesome and it can seem to figure out what I want to say before I say it.  Other than being a bit creepy (though all these apps and services might be considered creepy), I really like it.  I especially like it when I use the phone in one hand; like when I’m trying to carry my bag and reply to a text.

The following video seems to give a better show of what I’m trying to say.  I’m using a cool black and blue theme; I think it’s called holo.  Anyway, watch the video.

 

This is a great app and should be on everyone’s phone or tablet.  It’s turned into a “must have” for me, and I’m glad that Lifehacker featured it awhile ago.

Android App Series: Moon+ Reader

When I bought my Nexus 7, I figured I’d use it mostly as a reading device.  And sure enough, that is what I use it the most for.

Pocket notwithstanding, I like to read ebooks.  I needed to find an ebook reader that would be suitable.  I don’t mind google’s ebook reader but there didn’t seem to be a a way to import your books into the program, and I like to read a lot of Project Gutenberg stuff as well as things from Storybundle, so that was high on my list.  I tried several ebook readers (including the Nook app) but didn’t find something I liked till I gave Moon+ a shot.

I was wow-ed immediately.

I loved the different reading color “skins” and the text changer and everything else.  Moon+ was the first app I ever bought for any android device.

It’s pretty simple:  You load your books into it (and there’s a Dropbox integration, which I have to try yet), pick what you want to read (you can filter by author, series, etc) and then start reading.  Swipe from your right bezel to flip the page forward; to flip back, swipe from the left.

It’s simple and I got it for something like $4.  It might still be half off on the google play store, but I highly recommend it for reading books you’ve downloaded.

5/5 penguins for the fact that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it and it’s array of options.  Also, it’s a rock solid app and doesn’t crash or crash my device.

Android App Series: Pocket

I’d like to start a new series on my blog of Android Apps I use regularly and that I love and can’t think of functioning without.

The first one I’d like to write about is Pocket.

Pocket was originally called “Read it Later” and was the first read later service I tried.  It was not the last; I tried a special folder in my bookmarks, a read later tag on del.ici.ous, a read later tag in diigo, a folder of webclips in Evernote, and Instapaper.

I was using Instapaper as my “go to” read later app.  I then got my Android phone and didn’t really have a good mobile app for reading things while on the go.  It was about this time that Pocket came on the scene and I tried it out.  It told me that I “already had an account on this service” and I found out it was  a rebranded Read it Later.  I installed it on my phone, copied my articles from Instapaper, and the rest is history.

I use it judiciously when I’m reading online on one of my computers.  I’ll find long articles on Ars or Lifehacker or a great feminism post somewhere or whatever, and I click my “save to Pocket” button in Chrome and I have an awesomely formatted article on any browser that’s connected to the internet as well as my phone and my tablet.  The awesomest thing?  I don’t have to have network access to read the articles as they download to the device.  This is both a great thing and a bad thing if you have limited space, but Pocket formats things mostly in plain text and removes the pictures, so you have a plain text reading experience.

I also use Pocket when I’m reading my RSS feeds in Feedly on my Nexus 7.  I pick the “save to Pocket” option on things I think read better on a larger screen (lifehacker with comments, for example).

You can read in your browser, on your phone, and on your tablet.  As long as your devices are connected to the internet, you can easily keep your place between devices.  This is handy if you read something on the tablet, and then get pulled away and have to go out somewhere and then are waiting in line and then you read some more on your phone.  You’ll keep your place so you don’t have to scroll to where you were.  It’s a really handy app.

You can also “star” articles to read again or if you are compiling research for an article or something.  Click the star on your article and it saves to the “starred” section of your Pocket account.  It’s handy to keep track of your favorite articles.

I’ve set up IFTTT to take my starred articles and send them to a folder in Evernote so I can keep them for reading again.

Pocket is a brilliant app and works on Android, i-devices, your browsers (through an extension or bookmarklet) and various RSS readers and other apps.  I give Pocket a hearty thumbs up and 5/5 penguins for its simplicity and usefulness.