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Android App recommendations

19 March, 2014 (16:55) | Blog | By: ender

So over the years I’ve had more and more friends make the switch from iOS devices to Android. Obviously I’m a big fan of Android, so I’ve decided to provide a list of Android apps and why I recommend or use them, so that these new Android users have a good place to start. This list will not include super common apps like Netflix, but some of the less common apps I’ve found useful.

  • aCar – Free/Paid – I actually paid for this one. I use it to keep track of my fuel usage and gas mileage and maintenance schedules as well as ongoing costs for services and so on for my car. It can import/export to formats for a bunch of other apps [including iOS apps] .
  • Android Device Manager – this is actually built into the OS, and your Google account – but I think it needs to be set-up/activated. It allows you to go to your google account and locate your device, and/or wipe it if it is lost or stolen.
  • Bandsintown – Free – If you like live shows, this app can tell you who’s playing near you. Put in bands to watch for, and it will let you know when they’re coming to town – and can let you know when similar acts are coming.
  • Dropbox – Free – super common, SUPER useful [see KeepassDroid entry]
  • Flashlight HD LED – Free – [from smallte.ch] – super-bright and requires ONLY the bare minimum of permissions -there is NO reason a flashlight needs access to your contact list! But that’s what some other flashlight apps request.
  • FolderSync – Free/Paid – I prefer to keep my photos on my own systems instead of auto-uploading them to cloud providers [Dropbox, Google+, Facebook etc] – so I use this app instead. It can sync any files [not just pics] and it can use FTP, SFTP, SMB/CIFS, WebDAV or one of a BUNCH of different cloud providers. It can sync in one or both directions, and can be scheduled. It can also be set [per connection] to limit *when* it will attempt to sync. For instance, I have mine set to only sync to my home server when the phone connects to my specific WiFi SSID. This app is very cool, and very flexible. If you want to sync any of your phone’s data this is the best way to do it.
  • GroceryIQ – Free – Grocery list – very useful. If you create an account [not required] you can sync the list across multiple devices – great for couples!
  • gStrings – Free – guitar and other stringed instrument tuner
  • HD Widgets – Paid – I use this to put a great clock and weather widget on my home screen, as well as some quick-toggle buttons for things like Bluetooth, Wifi, brightness etc. Very customizable on size, color, font and what you want to be on the widget.
  • KeepassDroid – Free – This is the android port of Keepass – which I use to store all of my many, many passwords securely. I keep my password database on Dropbox [WARNING: Keep a REALLY strong password both on your Dropbox account, and the Keepass database!!!!]  – In this way, I’m able to access and update my passwords from my phone, tablet, home computer or work computer! This enables me to keep a lot of much stronger passwords for various accounts than I would if I had to remember all of them. Now I just have to remember my Keepass password.
  • Light Flow – Free/Paid – I paid for this one too. This lets you customize and set recurring notifications [ie, if you get a text – keep beeping every X minutes until you acknowledge it]. This is great for work texts in case I miss them. If your phone supports it, you can also adjust the color and blinking of the notification LED depending on which type of unread messages you have [ie. Green for email, red for texts]
  • Quick Dice Roller – Free – If you play any games that require dice rolling – this is a great app. Can customize the look of the dice and set up custom dice with specific formulas.
  • RedLaser – Free – I use this to scan barcodes in stores and compare prices and find reviews.
  • Scanner Radio – Free/Paid – Access to thousands of internet streams of scanner radios – listen to police/fire/emt/weather radio from around the country and around the world.
  • Wi-Fi Analytics – Free – This app my Amped Wireless allows you to see what wifi networks there are around you, and see all kinds of detailed information on them. You can determine which channel is least crowded so you know what channel to use for your own network, and you can get information on signal strength, and so on.

Best Birthday Card Ever!

23 May, 2013 (08:54) | Humor, Pictures | By: ender

Hallmark has outdone themselves, and printed the best birthday card ever!

 

Ouch – Herniated Disc

1 February, 2013 (10:32) | Blog, Personal, Pictures | By: ender

In case anyone ever wanted to know what a herniated disc looks like. This is an MRI image of my lower spine. The main section of cartilage, between L5 and S1 [with the arrow pointing to it] is seriously herniated and is pushing against the nerves which go down into my right leg, which is why my right leg has been hurting so much lately. The space between L4 and L5 is also a little bit herniated. The ones above those are what the cartilage is supposed to look like.

I’d like to add that I got this injury by trying to be a good samaritan. For my troubles I’ve gotten a month of excruciating pain and many hundreds of dollars of medical expenses. See if I ever do that again!

 

Natural Bridges State Beach 2012

19 September, 2012 (23:07) | Blog, Pictures | By: ender

Here are some shots from Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, CA. There are some really interesting erosion patterns in the rocks.

Business Trip and Rental Car Nightmare

23 May, 2012 (13:57) | Blog | By: ender

Note: I will expound on the story behind these pictures at a later date. For now I just want to get the pics up….

The Power of Innocence.

1 April, 2012 (23:12) | Blog, Personal | By: ender

It’s a fair bet that most parents have experienced seemingly innocuous statements which, when spoken by an innocent child, attain a cosmic truth and beauty that no other utterance can possibly match. Such a statement by a child brightens the entire universe.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. An otherwise innocuous statement by an innocent child can drive straight into your heart and tear out your soul; darkening all of existence.

There is unmatched power in innocence.

Desired Tablet – < $200 [$100-130 would be best]

7 March, 2012 (13:27) | Blog | By: ender

I find it surprising that none of the tablet makers have done something like this as an entry-level or kid-friendly tablet, something without un-necessary features [like a back-camera]. It seems that it would sell well [if priced right and built well]. I know I’d happily buy such a tablet for my kiddo.

 

Desired Specs:

  • ~7″ capacitive multi-touch screen [at least 600×1024 – 800×1280 if possible at price point]
  • thin as possible at price range, but even as thick as a Kindle Fire would be acceptable.
  • 7″ because it’s easier for a kid to handle, and I think is just a better form-factor for entry-level. Other sizes could be made as well.
  • dual-core 1+Ghz ARM CPU
  • 512MB RAM [1GB if possible]
  • 4-8GB Storage
  • MicroSD slot
  • VGA front-facing camera [for Skype/Tango videochat]
  • WiFi a/b/n
  • Bluetooth [only because it’s practically free with the wifi.]
  • Speaker [single or dual, doesn’t matter]
  • Android Ice Cream Sandwich
    • With full Google App Market support, not some lame 3rd-party app market.
    • For a kid-friendly version, can have parental ability to lock out App Market. Can still have a 3rd-party kid-friendly moderated market, but parent should still be able to install an un-moderated app if necessary.

    I do think that such a tablet would sell well, esp if the right accessories were available. It seems all the existing small tablets either try to cram too many features and thus cost a fortune, or don’t support the full app market and are tied too heavily to one source of content [Amazon/Nook], or pull TOO many features out [use resistive non-multi-touch screen].

     

    Am I alone in thinking such a tablet would sell well? Is that too much to ask?

     

    Biggest slice of pizza I’ve ever eaten…

    13 December, 2011 (13:35) | Blog | By: ender

    image

    This was easily the largest single slice I’ve seen in a restaurant. This is from Serious Pizza in setup Deep Ellum… The picture really doesn’t do it justice. I believe it comes from a 30″ pie.

    Giving up TV – Now what?

    5 August, 2011 (18:37) | Blog | By: ender

    After some serious soul-searching and internal struggle, I returned the new TV, BR Player and Xbox 360 I had purchased. I’ve long been thinking that my life has too many needless complications in it, and could use some simplification. As a result I’ve decided I’m going to minimize the amount of time I waste doing unconstructive, mindless things. Too much of my life has been spent zoned out in front of the TV when there are certainly many more interesting things I could be doing. I will also be cancelling my cable and most likely selling my Tivo. I’ll get rid of the large entertainment hutch I have currently, and replace it with a smaller table containing only a stereo. This should also give me more room for bookshelves. I can’t quite give up the computer, since I do work with them as a career, but I’m also dropping down to a single desktop [plus my work laptop], and will be selling/trashing the rest of my unnecessary gear. I will be trying to use the computer as a tool instead of “something to do when I’m bored”.  I do still intend to do *some* gaming. Some of my friends don’t live nearby and gaming together online [usually coop] is one of the few ways I can ‘hang out’ with them. Plus there’s no way I’m going to be able to stop myself from playing Diablo III when it comes out. :) Still, it is my hope to avoid mindless web-surfing just as much as mindless channel surfing.

    I have no doubt that there will be a period of adjustment [aka withdrawal], so I’ve decided to preemptively list some things I could do instead of watching TV.

     

    • Read – I love reading of course.
    • Family – I’d love to spend more time with the kiddo actually doing something instead of zoned out in front of the tube.
    • Photography – I’ve got a nice camera and enjoy taking pictures. I enjoyed the Photography class [B&W Film] I took a couple years ago, and would like to continue improving my technique.
    • Learn to play Guitar – I have 2 guitars and it’s high time I actually learned to play the damned things instead of mashing buttons on Guitar Hero.
    • Learn to play Drums – This will probably come later, but it is something I’d like to do eventually.
    • Learn to Program – Another thing I’ve been wanting to learn for many years, and never felt like I had to time to dedicate.
    • School – I’m still [very] slowly working toward a degree
    • Exercise – Yeah, it’s time to drop a few pounds, no? I can go work out, or ride my bike at the lovely park that’s across the street. At least when it stops being a billion degrees out!
    • Write – While this rambling blog post may not serve as much of an example, I do have the ability to write fairly well and I’ve been told repeatedly that I should write. Perhaps I’ll actually participate in NaNoWriMo this year.
    • Cook – More time spent cooking will probably help with the pounds vs eating fast food.
    • Hang out – The few friends I actually have, I hardly ever see; even the ones that live nearby. I’d like to spend more time hanging out, and doing stuff with friends.
    I’m sure as time goes on I’ll come up with many more things to do that don’t normally occur to me because I’m zoned out in front of the TV, but that list should get me started. Feel free to let me know if you have any other ideas for me. :)

    How people see me when I fix their computer…

    21 July, 2011 (16:50) | Blog | By: ender

    This is one of those “It’s funny cuz it’s true” things…

    How people see me when I fix their computer

    How people see me when I fix their computer