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Sunday, December 22, 2013


If you are still looking for that perfect Christmas gift, Chromecast just may fit the bill.

Although Chromecast is still in beta, it is a very nice little tool.  But I should probably point out why I bought my Chromecast, as it will not be the perfect gift for all...

1)  I do not have a smartTV.  I do have a nice, older 32" VIZIO HDTV.
2)  I do not have a smartTV add-on box such as a SamsungTV, GoogleTV, AppleTV, or Roku streaming device box.
3)  I am kind of thrifty for an early adopter.

That said, I also believe that Chromecast might offer something that the smartTVs and add-on smartTV boxes do not, eventually.  And that is, streaming photos, video and music directly from your phone through WiFi.

As mentioned, although Google Chromecast is still in beta, it is pretty good.  However, the truth be told, I did have to exchange my first one for a new one.  The first one I bought on "Black Friday" was only $30.00 at Best Buy and was supposed to come with a $6.00 credit at the Google Play store.  I did get the deal on the price, but was snubbed on the Google Play store $6.00 credit.  According to Google's own instructions, there should have been instructions on how to collect (or redeem) the well advertised $6.00 credit at the Play store on my Best Buy receipt, and there was none.  So again, we run into the truth in advertising dilemna.  I absolutely hate promoting stuff that, whether useful or not, does not include truth in advertising.  As an advertising guy myself, to outright lie to the consumer is absolutely sinful and invites disdain and boycotting.  However, this was a one-day promotion that will be extremely limited to those of us that purchased the Chromecast unit on Black Friday only, so I do think that this product is still worthy despite the promotional problems at Best Buy (and possibly other outlets).

I did purchase the product in-store at Best Buy.  The first one worked for a day.  As I had worked all night at Kohl's starting on Thanksgiving (which I consider an anti-family decision made by Kohl's corporate, as my Thanksgiving was completely disturbed by being required to work that very holiday and not being able to spend it dining and celebrating with my family as most enjoyed), I was very tired but still got out to do a little Black Friday shopping of My own.  After grabbing my selected Black Friday specials at Kohl's, I went to Best Buy specifically to check out the deals there and yet somehow only walked away with the Chromecast.  Upon returning home I set it up easily and had no real issues, though there were a few points inbetween updates that flashed static that looked a little strange.  Still, I watched a couple of YouTube videos and fell asleep watching a movie on NetFlix with it.  The streamed internet video signal I was watching was even much better than when I hooked-up and watched NetFlix video on my (now non-funtioning) dual-core 1 GHz NVIDIA Tegra processor powered Asus Transformer Eee Pad (TF101) via its miniHDMI port.

Unfortunately, the next day that Chromecast stopped working.  I contacted Google Chromecast support through online webmail and followed-up with an email (the only way you can contact Chromecast support) and told them that although the device had worked great the previous morning, it was delivering no signal at all today.  Then, all of their support instructions indicated that I should get to a certain screen, apparently not reading that I have no signal from the Chromecast device at all.

Luckily, a couple of weeks later, I was finally able to manage getting all the little pieces, document, box and receipts together and returning the Chromecast to Best Buy at an even exchange and the new device performs flawlessly.  On top of that, I have never experienced a flash of static and point in this unit's young life, so far.  The signal is always rock solid and the device streams video and music (through Pandora) flawlessly.  There hasn't even been one glitch or hiccup in the quality of the playback.

I am still miffed as to why Best Buy failed to support the Black Friday $6.00 Google Play store credit, though.  This was the very promotion that the Google representative pointed out to me, and it was clearly displayed and advertised in the store.  And although this does help to further sour me on Best Buy and even though I did discuss the fact that I didn't get the $6.00 advertised credit, nor did I have any way to do so as shown by the receipt I used to exchange the non-fuctioning Chromecast, but they directed me to take up the issue with the Google lady, who works the same limited hours as I do.  I mean, this was a Best Buy promotion and they are apparently refusing to stand-by their own promotion.  C'MON, MAN!

So, for anyone without a smart HDTV that can already stream stuff, someone who also doesn't have a smart TV streaming device, Google Chrome is a really good choice.  Setup is easy and quick.  The software update doesn't take too long, either.  And you can use your network connected Windows, Linux or Android based desktop, laptop, tablet or smart-phone to control it.

I would like to see more application support, though.  Particularly, I would like to see support for Gallery, so that you can stream photos and video directly from your smart hand-held device without having to first upload things to YouTube or VEO, etc.

Currently, Chromecast supports casting Chrome tabs as well as the following Chromcast enabled apps:

  • YouTube app &
  • Netflix app and
  • Google Play Movies & TV
  • Google Play Music
  • Hulu Plus
  • Pandora
  • HBOGo
  • Vevo
  • Red Bull.TV
  • Songza
  • Plex
  • PostTV
  • Viki
  • RealPlayer Cloud
  • aVia
  • Revision3
  • BeyondPod
(...the above list was pulled directly from the Chromcast apps support page on Dec. 22nd, 2013)

Above all, this product is still in beta and is improving a great deal fast with added support for many apps.  I just don't think that anyone will be displeased with a Chromecast unless they already have a smartTV or smart HDTV device.

Of course, you do need an HDTV and some sort of broadband internet connected computerized device to use this, and it is best used, and I think more conveniently, with hand-held devices (phones & tablets).  But my second Chromecast works flawlessly.  If you are on a busier or stressed load network it might not stream as well, as a great deal will have to do with your available internet bandwidth.  But with most home networks, that shouldn't be an issue.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Polaroid S8 by Southern Telecom: Back to a Cheap Tablet (Again)

First, let Me be honest and clear... This is a review for the model S8 tablet that is designed and manufactured by Southern Telecom and licensed and marketed under the now otherwise defunct Polaroid brand name.

But you in order for you to understand my predicament, you have to know the whole story. I am a web designer. I have been trying to move into the mobile app development market for years, now. The mobile app development game will become bigger than the website game has ever been, and it will do so in short order. Websites will remain necessary, but will neither be as convenient nor be as handy as an app on your phone, tablet or other hand held device. Websites will just become backup presentations, and they will start doing so within the next year.

So as a web design freelancer trying to expand my reach and offerings, it is a simple decision, it is mandatory that I learn to support mobile devices. So I have been trying to accomplish just that. I have bought smart phones and tablets, books on the subject. Because I have to, to survive.

Originally, I purchased a Pandigital Planet tablet. That was over 2 years ago. The stupid thing was so slow and unresponsive that I had to return it to Kohl's. It was a perfect example of bad engineering.

When I took it back, I still wanted a tablet, so I exchanged it for Southern Telecom's "Polaroid" T7 Internet Tablet. But, that thing was also a piece of crap. In fact, to this day I am absolutely amazed at what terrible garbage that Kohl's, the place where I work, was passing off to consumers as technology. These tablets were beyond pathetic, they were unresponsive, non-functional, unusable and completely worthless. I tried everything I could think of in order to get them to work, and never had any success. I was so disturbed with the cheapness of these unusable products that I was greatly alarmed and had to rethink whether or not I should stay with the company. I thought that I had been working at a quality retailer that cared, but I was not getting that feeling.

But when I had discussed these tablets with others, I was always given the impression that I am picky, that they were proud of their tablets, and that we were the early adopters that would have to suffer this technology and make it better by pointing out its strengths and weaknesses. So I did just that.

My main concerns about device un-usability were addressed in public forums in the hopes that the feedback I provided would be put to good use to make these products better.

One of the biggest misconceptions about these hand held devices were that they had easy-to-use touch screens. They don't. They really do require a stylus, and even then they are not reliable. My Droid X is much more reliable (even to this day) than these devices ever were. The Droid X touchscreen puts them to shame even though it is 3 years old, compared to when these tablets were brand spanking new. They simply aren't responsive and are very unreliable.

The other biggest problem with device usability stems from the lack of decent wireless reception. You can't use a device that is wi-fi concentric if you can't stay connected in a wi-fi enabled environment. Even though every computerized device in the house (2 desktops, 3 laptops, 1 iPad, 5 Samsung smart phones, 1 Droid X, 1 Blu-ray player & 1 Chromecast) all can get our wireless N signal anywhere in the house, the Planet and the T7 Internet Tablet could not get the signal from my couch (which is not even close to being the furthest point in our living quarters). If a device is going to rely on wi-fi for functionality (internet, web, email, apps, updates, streaming audio & video, network games, socialization, etc...), the wireless reception needs to work.

There were all sorts of other issues. These devices were manufactured with too small of a ROM, very little RAM, too little storage memory, slow processors, no bluetooth capabilities, very little battery life and no access to the Google Play store or apps. The list went on, but all of these things needed to be addressed before cheap tablets would even amount to anything.

But I decided to keep my Polaroid T7 because maybe some day someone would develop a decent remote that I could control my TVs with (Maybe, eventually, anyway). But I did feel that the T7 7" Internet Tablet had an edge over the Planet because if I held it just right I could sometimes get a wireless N signal while the Pandigital Planet never did.

Unfortunately, I just ain't ballsy enough to hold my arm outstretched while sitting on the couch, I whimp out after about 5 minutes. And the signal is too weak for it to be quick about anything network related. So I never used the T7. I still have it here on my desk. It still is hard to use and often I have to poke one button or link multiple times in order to do something just once. But I ca't use my finger, I have to use a stylus or it will never work right. I deleted all the extra apps and it still sucks. It's just useless.

So a year went by before I tried getting another tablet. I grabbed a refurbished Asus Eee Pad TF101 Transformer with dock bundle. This thing actually worked pretty great, I was impressed and happy. The dual core Nvidia Tegra processor wasn't real speedy, but it wasn't incredibly and painfully slow, either. The battery went a good portion of the day and if I had the keyboard dock plugged into it using it like a laptop, it would go all day long on the extra battery in the keyboard.

The TF101 Transformer was actually a good little tablet and I was glad that I bought it. This wasn't real cheap either, I had enough invested here to buy my mom another brand new full service Windows 8 touchscreen laptop. But I wanted to develop on the Windows Android platform, the cheap tablets were cheap crap, and I needed something that would work. Unfortunately, it didn't.

One day inside of six months of owning the contraption, I plugged it into a hotel outlet and the red light went on and then out. The keyboard dock wouldn't charge. Within a week, the tablet itself wouldn't charge, either. I sent off for a new Asus stock charger at Amazon, along with new longer cords and a a car charger. But the new stock charger wouldn't charge anything, either.

So on Black Friday I resisted getting any cheap tablets, even though they went on sale and we had some left at the end of my shift. I concentrated on getting the gifts I could since I had been laid-up due to arthroscopic hip surgery. But with nothing worthy of my $60.00 Kohl's cash the next week, I grabbed the Polaroid S8 (8") Internet Tablet this weekend.

I've only had it a couple of days so far... but here's what I wound-up with:

Southern Telecom's "Polaroid" S8 (8 inch) Internet Tablet

The Polaroid S8 Internet Tablet now has a dual-core processor, bluetooth, dual cameras, supports the Google Play store, and offers a microUSB port, a microSDCard slot, a miniHDMI port, a headphone jack, a dedicated power jack for its AC/DC adapter. The battery is a rechargeable Li-ion Polymer. It runs on Jelly Bean, which is Android OS version 4.2. It is supposed to feature an 8" capactive multi-touch touch screen display with a 1024 x 768 resolution (offering the traditional 4 x 3 aspect ratio). It is supposed to support 802.11 b/g/n wireless wi-fi networking. There is a front mounted speaker. It comes with 1 GB of DDR RAM and 4 GB of internal storage memory.

So, it sounds pretty good. It sounded good enough for me to at least give it a shot. But am I happy?

Well, there are two pretty important things that I learned from the old T7 Internet Tablet. First: It needs to be able to be responsive. Second: It needs to be able to network with my wi-fi (802.11 n) system. Well, one out of two hardly hits the mark.

As far as being responsive, it isn't. You still need a stylus in order to coax it along. But the good news is that with a stylus, the thing can actually work quite well. As long as I used a stylus, I was pretty much clicking everything the first time, with a few exceptions. This alone is much better than the T7, I can actually get somewhere with the S8!

But alas, I cannot use my S8 downstairs on the couch. Not even if I hold it up with my arm outstretched will I ever get a signal down there. So if you only have one wi-fi source, and a decent sized home, the S8 Internet Tablet will probably be useless unless it is very close to the source wi-fi router.

However, I did come-up with a work-around. I can put my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 into mobile hotspot mode and use it as my router. The S8 was easy to setup for this, but I also have to remember that I can't be downloading apps and streaming audio and video in this setup because when my Galaxy Note 2 is in its mobile hotspot configuration, the internet is accessed through my mobile 4g data plan, and that is very finite. I sure don't want to go over my data limit at Verizon.

There probably is another work-around, as well. There are some new routers which support a wider signal using the 802.11 ac. But it is still unclear to me if the older n wi-fi signal that these routers also support is broadened along with the wider ac signal. So I still have to check-up on that part of it. But that still requires shelling out another $150.00 for a new router that unless you didn't have a cheap tablet, you wouldn't even need. So I'm not so sure that work-around is so good when if you spend the money on a better tablet, you will get much better wireless and a much more responsive tablet.

Another possible work-around might be to allow the Galaxy Note 2 to host the S8 Internet Tablet through Bluetooth as an internet access point. This will allow the Note 2 to access the net through our traditional high-speed cable network, but Bluetooth is awfully slow in comparison, too.

Part of the reason I bought the S8 is that all the other issues I mentioned seemed as if they were addressed. The new S8 came with a dual core processor. There was Bluetooth, more RAM, more storage memory, and it supports Google Play. It does seem more responsive than the old T7, although it is a far cry and a long way from being as responsive as my TF101 Transformer tablet or my Droid X smart phone. But it is better.

But there are some wonky things about this tablet, as well. For one thing, the screen doesn't rotate with its orientation, at all. Even though there is an option to disable the rotation orientation, it doesn't rotate at all. The camera has to be positioned at the top in a landscape orientation. This seems to be the same for all the apps that it came with, I am curious to see if downloaded apps will work similarly.

One thing that I did right away was update literally everything quickly so that all the apps were up-to-date. However, Google Play Store and the Google Play Music & Audio apps do not produce any sound. I couldn't figure out how to get the sound recorder to play anything back either (as it seemed to lack that option). But YouTube and Pandora both worked without any real issues (unless the tablet was also busy downloading while producing video or sound, then there would be a hesitant glitch now and again).

As far as the sound goes, use ear buds. The single front facing speaker doesn't do music justice, though it is clear and useful for alerts, alarms and game feedback.

There is only one physical navigation button, for getting back to the home screen. Then there is a volume up/down toggle and a power button. A set of white icons are always available at the bottom of the tablet screen for volume down, show the running apps, capture a screen snapshot, home, back and volume up. I am always accidentally hitting these with the stylus when navigating around, but it isn't that big of a deal, it is easy enough to get back or undo what I just did.

All that said, it would seem like I am happy. But the battery sucks, too. It doesn't last very long at all. I think that technology should have improved a ton more than what this device is showing. I'm also perplexed as to why it can't run apps such as TV Guide or My Coke Rewards.

Then again, this is just a little test bed for my apps, and it looks to be a good standard for the minimum of technology I will support. And this one does at least have a shot at becoming a decent TV remote, as well. Anyone want an old T7? ;)

UPDATE: Dec 17th, 2013...

Polaroid Stays Extremely Stingy with the Memory (Still)
My version of the Southern Telecom Polaroid AS8 Internet Tablet only came with 800 MB of RAM and about 1 GB of internal "SDCard" storage memory.  And even though it does seem to see all of my 64 GBs of (external) ExtSDCard storage memory, it refuses to install apps to this microSDCard.  I am not a happy camper, at all.    I thought for sure that the new Polaroid tablets had enough memory.  The specs on the S8 box indicates that it has 4GB internal storage memory on the box and there aren't very many apps installed.  Even though there is an asterisk footnote paragraph that says, "Actual internal memory may vary depending on the operating system of the device and the preloaded apps.", I did the math and even if you include the supposed (and rounded-up) 1 GB of internal DDR3 memory as a part of that "internal memory", this stupid S8 internet tablet should have at least another 3 GB of internal storage memory to use for all the apps (including the android operating sytem).  But no, it does not.  Southern Telecom has pulled another bait and switch.

What has happened to truth in advertising? We used to require it!

Still, I don't want to return the stupid peice of crap.  Not because it is a good buy, but I only paid about 27.00 for it after all my Kohl's Cash coupons, and my employee discount.  And what could I get for $27.00?  Nothing.

On a positive note, it works really well at playing Netflix or You Tube and controlling the video playback (pausing, restarting at a certain point, etc.) through Chromecast.

To my amazement, the tablet did start adapting to landscape/portrait orientations after I installed the microSDCard.  I don't understand why it would require the external microSDCard in order to start working as described, though.

I also started using it for DuoLingo and have been using it for reading a couple things.  I do kind of like it as a reader, and the stereo earbuds I have sound good with it, so Pandora is also fun.

But in the end, I am still having to use a stylus all the time, I have to reboot it once in a while (about once daily, though you might be able to rectify that issue by killing your running apps or running an app killer).  But it is genuinely lacking in usable memory for apps, and I honestly can not endorse any product that uses false advertising in its spec sheet.

I will have to see if there is an app that will allow my microSDCard to be used for apps.  This will be its only saving grace.

In the long term, I won't be using this tablet much, though, and I am already looking for another that will do as it is required.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Yahoo!’s Domainapalooza

Yahoo has decided to release some of its premium domain names to the public through an auction at Sedo…
Yahoo!’s Domainapalooza (hyperlink updated Nov. 16th)
This premium domain name portfolio auction started today, November 14th, and runs through November 21st, 2013.  It is an impressive collection of some premium domain names, that is for sure.  Although there are quite a few names that I feel are not very good (especially for the reserve price indicated), there are some great domains in the bunch…
  • (or brand it as
Please note that the above is merely a sampling of some of the best domain names in the Yahoo Domainapalooza premium domain portfolio auction.  But that portfolio is listing over 500 names on its first day, and Yahoo! also indicates that it will also be adding even more domain names throughout the auction.  
This is a big opportunity to get a name that can be built into a dominant brand within its industry, not only for players collecting names, but also for entrepreneurs such as myself that develop the names into brands and fully-functional websites, as well as those looking for a great name with which to launch their company.

That said, there is nothing better to allow a great app to take off, by marketing a highly brandable name.  Mobile designers and developers and start-ups may really want to take a gander at the names available here.  As an example, if you are working on an audio/visual app, what better domain than that of  I men, some of these names are no-brainers.  I wish I could afford some.
It is quite possible that you walk away with a great brandable domain name which you could develop into a profitable website or business?  Very likely, considering the quality of some of these names.  Especially with names that have an excellent second meaning.

Remember that some of these names have a uniquely Yahoo perspective.  For instance, I would not want, but very possibly it may have been intended for My Yahoo Mail, or My Yahoo Messenger.  And as a 3 letter dot com, it could be quite valuable to the right party.  
As of this writing, there are 517 domain names available for auction and with Yahoo planning to add even more this may become the most watched premium domain name portfolio auction in history.  As a domainer and developer, my interest is aroused.  As a businessman, it is maxed.  I wish I didn't have so much tied-up in other endeavors at the moment.  But I will definitely study this list thoroughly.
Happy domaining!  I hope there will be many domainers taking advantage of this opportunity to add to their portfolio and domainate the market with such great and industry domainating names.  ;)
Yahoo!’s Domainapalooza (hyperlink updated Nov. 16th)
(I’m going back to check out that list!)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chrome is Busted

Why is Chrome a bust on My mobile devices for me?

Whenever I am scrolling around a regular web page in Chrome (not one optimized for mobile, as so few of them are), I usually have to zoom in on the text just to be able to read it, even though I've got a pretty big mini sized tablet for a phone (a Samsung Galaxy Note II).  Now that wouldn't be so bad if only the menu didn't come down and butt it's head right in the way.  I'll have to take a look at what kind of menu does this, but usually they are all text.

So I zoom in to view something, read text, and suddenly I can't because there's a big-ass menu in the way.  Doesn't Google use its own browsers?  Don't they see this?  Don't they understand how absolutely ridiculous this is?  Or do they think mobile means tablet?

Then, I try to scroll around, and even though I'm not swiping hard, I move to one side or the other and the page disappears.  Then, I have to load the stupid thing back up again.  And then I swipe up or down to get back to where I came from quickly, but not overly quick... and the same thing happens, the browser thinks I am throwing away the page?  C'MON GOOGLE!

Really, Google, you need to get with the program here.  No other browser is so phone unfriendly.  I should be able to disable this "feature", yet can't seem to.  At least let Me turn up the speed of My scrolling so that I have the ability to use Chrome at all.  But your browser just throws away pages constantly for me, as if it is a good thing when I haven't even been there but a second or two?  There are all sorts of ways for you to identify what I am trying to do and you ignore every one.

Now, mind you, I have really come to enjoy Chrome on the PC.  But Google, you don't seem to get mobile phones at all.  Not in Chrome or in lots of other apps.  Google Voice Search is pretty darn pathetic, for instance.  Play is had to navigate on a phone and doesn't hold a connection (ever) when all the other apps do.

What is wrong with the 800 pound Gorilla?  Have you grown too big that all you can do is evil, now?  Because Google is losing touch with its own products.  Now that you own Motorola, don't you think you should address some of the android phone's short comings like poor UI responsiveness, memory leaks and security?

Sure, we all want better cameras too, but a phone camera is a phone camera, the lenses suck.  The speed required to grab good sports photos is still yet to come, and I have a quad processor Note II!   It's better, but it is far and 6 dimensions away from being right.

Get with it, Google.  You've had your eye on Apple and Microsoft and others have targeted the customer.  We are what it is all about, and you don't seem to be listening at all.

-The squeaky wheel!

Saturday, September 7, 2013


There are just some things I really liked about the Google Motorola Droid X that I don't have on My Samsung Galaxy Note II.

Even though My Note II is faster, has more memory, accepts more storage space, does duo-tasking and is just plain a lot more reliable, My Droid X had an easy slip-off case that allowed Me to easily slip it into a multimedia dock so that I could instantly see 720p recorded video of My son at his games or swim meets.

When I picked up the Note II we added an Otter Box case for protection.  These communicators are more expensive than a computer, after all.  But the full protection of the OtterBox Commuter Series Hybrid Case for Samsung Galaxy Note II also means that it is not nearly as easy to take off as the old tiny Droid X and its case was.  It actually provides a hard case, as well as a thick silicon inner shell to absorb shock.  Plus parts of that inner sleeve are acting as plugs to keep water and dirt out of the ports.   Taking the Note II device out of the case is a chore, so I haven't even bothered to even check out the multimedia dock that Samsung offers for the Galaxy Note II.

Certainly, the Note II offers better video quality (1080P) than the Droid X did, but I really do miss the convenience of throwing the ol' Driod X in a doc and watching My slideshows or video.  And since it becomes a critical move to protect our devices, we all know it is a stupid idea to not get an industrial strength protective case and screen protector film to shield our investment.  The very idea of then having to undress our devices to put them in a multimedia dock so that they are a more effective tools (clock, alarm, getting recharged and we giving us access to the files through our computer) is kind of ridiculous, then.  Because each time we undress these things, there is always a chance for a slip-up.

Just one look at the Samsung Galaxy Smart Dock Multimedia Hub and you know that you won't be able to fit the Galaxy Note II in there, in its case.

So what, then? Perhaps it's time for Samsung to start designing smart multimedia docks with cases in mind? Because as it is, they can't seemingly sell many of these since the cases have to be so sturdy and hard to take off as they are. Maybe Samsung should team up with OtterBox or even create their own bullet-proof style cases and offer a smart multimedia dock that will accomodate those things?

It sure would be nice.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Wife's Cherry Droid X has SOLD


This Droid X was not used much, she never gave out her number and just used it for contacting the family, for email when away from the PC and a GPS when out of town.

Mint condition with a new charger and USB cable in the original box.  Protected by a red rubbery elastic (vinyl?) case and a screen protector for the life of the phone.

SOLD - If you would like to know the whole spiel, see the listing at

The 25 Top Essentials..

My Note II has become an integral part of my life.  I can't even imagine life without it.  And even the smaller Galaxy screens seem too tiny for me, now.  But I wouldn't want to carry around anything bigger in my cargo pants.

I have also noticed that I tend to hit the right keys more often, even though I have big hands with big fat fingers and I'm not particularly coordinated with the finger action, either (all my friends beat Me when we are gaming).

My wife's Droid X has sold for $75.00 on Swappa (, but I cannot force myself to sell mine, yet.  I became kind of attached to my Droid X over the two year carrier contract.

Even though the battery on my Note II goes all day long, usually no matter how much I use it, it is often really low when I take off to go to work and I leave it plugged-in at home to charge while working (because I don't want to bring the charger and lose it).  But I do grab the old Droid X so that I can browse and check email, etc., on breaks.  I almost don't mind that I can't use it as a phone anymore (the Note uses that number & phone plan, now) because I'm not allowed to have a phone on me at work.

What are my favorite apps?  Writing this blog entry I have come to find out that is quite a long list.  Some of the essentials are actually already there, the Samsung Camera is astounding when compared to My old Droid X.  But I see that 41 mega pixel camera that the Nokia Windows has and I wonder why the android didn't do that.  I always thought the Windows phone killer app would be that they would allow bullet-proof Virtual Private Network (VPN) access to your Windows desktop/laptop computers screens & files.  But No, they finally addressed the camera issues.  I might just grab one of these when I upgrade my business cell, now.

Still, my Note II comes with some great photo tools and the quad processor (and decent memory) allows Me to run virtually anything I want, even doing a couple of things at once (like checking My already downloaded email while on hold).

These androids are great tools compared to the old smartphones of yesteryear, though.  Yes, I do mean the single processor Droids... any single processor "smart" phone.  And yet, there are fantastic apps that are a part of the OS itself that those antique models share.  The stock Gallery on either device is absolutely killer, for instance.  You cannot find many competitors to that one.  But that is a part of the android experience.  What apps would I recommend a user have?

The list is really too long.  Too long to list in a single blog entry, anyway.  Let's just start with the essentials...

Some of my favorite essential android apps are the same as when I had the Droid X, only updated since then.  And they run much faster on the quad processor enhanced Note II, as well.  But they open up the device to real usefulness by allowing it to become more of a tool.

The Top 25 Essential Apps for Android
  1. By far, I use Kuffs Password Safe Pro the most and rely on it the heaviest.  With all the passwords I have to remember, and the security I have to maintain, Password Safe Pro is an absolute life saver.
  2. Lookout keeps the Note II secure, as well.  I had tried another anti-virus/anti-malware program for portable devices, but this one stays free without bugging the hell out of Me.  Gotta like that.
  3. It would seem so obvious to many that having the Play store on your device is a give, but there was a time when I had a tablet that wouldn't run it and I really, really, really missed it.  I don't even use that tablet anymore.  Anyone want a used tablet for free?  
  4. PayPal... as a web designer I would not be able to function without PayPal. I do wish the mobile app would support more than one PayPal account, though.  I have a business account so that I can accept credit card payments, but I also need my free personal account so that PayPal doesn't double charge and take a fee out of My reseller commissions.
  5. Amazon Mobile ...If ever you need something for your mobile device, a charger, etc... check out  They offer the lowest prices on device gear and necessities. To have the whole Amazon store on your device and giving the very best prices on device accessories, makes the Amazon Mobile app a shoe-in. If you have a larger tablet, get that version for better display support (I have a couple of android tablets, as well).
  6. Dropbox!!!  I cannot emphasize enough how valuable this app is.  Many device and PC apps support the cloud now, and it seems that they all start supporting Dropbox first.  This is a good idea, as they offer a great free Dropbox account to get you started.  It isn't that they are the only game in town, but they are one of the best with ways to upgrade your account for free, including linking your Facebook account to more easily share folders with friends on Fb and more.   
  7. Google Drive is an important app to have on your Android device as well, allowing you to access your Google Docs and more.  But why does Google dislike us trying to brand ourselves with keywords when Google itself always chooses keywords for it's products?  LOL
  8. SkyDrive is also a staple, this cloud service is a part of the Microsoft network and allows Live or Hotmail to be and do much more, from your phone.  Cool.  Plus, as with Dropbox & Drive, SkyDrive is supported by most software that supports the cloud.
  9. Wifi Analyzer is a great tool, especially when trouble shooting connectivity problems with your local network.
  10. Fing is a great network monitor and toolbox for checking your LAN and viewing who is connected.
  11. For bigger issues with network providers, Speed Test is an essential app, and can also verify that your network provider really is all that they say they are.
  12. Elixr is probably the best and most complete little monitor and toolbox.  But it does seem to have an interface that is sort-of hard to get aquainted with, with non-standard icons/buttons.  But some other apps won't do all it does, either.
  13. System Tuner also offers lots of neat monitors and tweaks.
  14. One of the best android tweakers is Spare Parts+, it really allows you to set a great deal of things you can't using any other app.   
  15. Without a doubt, you cannot go wrong with ES File Explorer.  This is a very powerful tool that allows you the flexibility you need to find exactly what you are looking for, and makes an awesome file manager.
  16. I also like Android Sensor Box, because it is easier to use than some of the other apps that do absolutely everything, when you just want to check or monitor your sensors.
  17. Sometimes programs will have memory leaks on any computerized device when they aren't written well enough.  I use Memory Booster to manage my memory and currently running apps.
  18. When I think that something may be slowing down the system, I might tap My Advanced Task Killer so that I can manually kill any non-essential apps that I don't need and haven't assigned an exception.
  19. Polaris Office is My go-to office app, and it came with My Note II.  
  20. But I also have OfficeSuite Pro from when I registered it on My old Droid X.  Either of these is really good.
  21. I really love CamCard, because I can easily take a photo of someone's business card with it and it will magically turn it into a contact.
  22. S Note is vital for playing with the stylus.  Not that I do it a lot, but as an artist I love that I can play with graphics and do kooky handwritten stuff with My phone.  This app also came stock with the Note II.
  23. Alarm Clock Extreme Pro is my only and absolutely essential alarm clock.  In fact, without this device running Alarm Clock Extreme Pro, I would be late all the time.  But now it's a very rare occassion.  Even then, its only because I didn't set the alarm!  I also upgraded it with the Timer.
  24. Chrome.  Sure, you can use any browser, but Chrome is working flawlessly with My laptop, saving my bookmarks (favorites) and filling in the info I let it have when I come to forms.  It just plain works right.
  25. I want to say Gmail, but gmail comes with every android phone because android is a Google product.  I want to say the GPS, but again, that is standard equipment, here.  I want to say the Camera or the Gallery, but I've already knocked them off the list as well.  But there is another little gem I've been missing... the All In One Toolbox.  Try it, you'll like it!

I haven't even touched on the camera apps, image processing or video editing tools.  I'm not even speaking about books or MP3 & sound software.  But I think that would be a great start for anyone wanting to put the right applications on their device to enable it to be more of a use, more of an indispensable tool.

Blogger Changes

Sorry Google, I just do not like the new Blogger editor or dashboard formats.

Ever hear of the blank page syndrome?  You would think that you would want to have bloggers post here, but then you make it harder for a writer to get started writing.

Damn, I hate this new interface.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Blogger is finally working?

This is a test.  It appears to be working. Cool.

My wife upgraded my Droid X to a Samsung Galaxy Note II for Christmas (Thank you, Maria! What an awesome gift. Love it, love her.)

So what was this test about?  I have never been able to use the blogger app as well as I expected to be able to.  Whether this was a misgiving of the software, my device or me, I'm not sure.  But I started this post on my Asus Android EeePC Transformer TF101 tablet (with keyboard) and left it there, and then ran the blogger app on my Note II and picked up right where I left off. 

That's cool.

I suppose the test is mostly for myself since I gave up trying to use the app with my Motorola Droid X because of the tiny software based keys.  The fact that I am around 6"2" and have large hands also means that I have big fat fingers that rarely hit the right keys. 

I tried using a the Merkury Innovations physical Bluetooth keyboard that is so often on sale for half-off at Kohl's Department Stores (as I work there), but that keyboard didn't work with my old Motorola Droid X.  Luckily, the Galaxy Note II's large 5.5" 720P resolution High Definition tablet-like screen is much bigger and easier for my big fat fingers.  And that same Merkury bluetooth keyboard that I bought for my Droid X works just fine on my Note II, as well.

I suppose that the initial test was primarily about whether or not the Blogger app would work, as I have had difficulty connecting with Google's Blogger servers in the past, which is primarily the reason I haven't been blogging much for a very long time. 

Thankfully, now that I have my Transformer tablet and my Note II phone/mini-tablet both working flawlessly with blogger now (as long as this gets posted, of course), it looks like I can resume my blogging adventures.

This is a great big deal because I don't like using my noisy Windows PC/laptop anymore,  unless I am creating a website, doing video or using Photoshop, etc...

I have come to rely on my android devices for all of my web browsing, searching, gps, maps, directions, camera,  video cam/calling, remote controls, music, even when selecting a movie or TV show to watch, now.

I guess you can say that I am a big Android OS fan.  And now Samsung's Galaxy Note II has finally taken the aches of being an early adopter out of the picture, as it is so easy to use and lots of fun!  It even works as a phone better than the Droid X ever did (which the Droid X did pretty well).

Anyway, cool.  This was a successful test and I will start blogging here at Blogger more (as well as check out the apps for blogging at WordPress and Tumblr, too).

Rock On!