Thursday, February 26, 2009

Let's talk Android Apps

What apps do I use on my Google Phone?

Generally, I install apps that are either useful or diverting. Often there's a bit of overlap, and some categories include show-offy or just-in-case-someday-maybe.

Toggle Settings: I use this one constantly to toggle wireless, Bluetooth, and GPS. I also use it to quick toggle brightness and ringer mode. It's pretty flexible. I used to use Any Cut to quick toggle Bluetooth, but Toggle Settings works better for me.

Twidroid: If you follow my twitter, you know I use this a fair amount. It's a little crashy, but the developers have a strong and active release cycle, which is nice.

AK Notepad: I carry around a 99-cent paper spiral notebook in my back pocket for most note-taking, but this is a handy digital alternative until Google Docs works on my phone. A lot of people seem surprised that I use paper.

Flashlight: When it says light, it means light. Max brightness, no sleep, all white. Very practical.

The Weather Channel: Boring but useful. Has some neat smarts about location if you travel.

Bubble and Compass are a bubble level and compass, respectively. Countdown Alarm++ and Stopwatch do what they say they do. Handy to have.

ParkMark and Location Log are "where's my car" sort of apps. I don't have a preference for one or the other yet. YMMV.

Wifiscan does the wardriving for you and outputs a Google Earth KML or CSV to your SD card. The developer is super friendly, too.

ConnectBot does ssh and does it well.

Magic 8-Ball is a fun show-off toy. Sky Map falls into the same category, but as a real star map that changes view as the phone moves and shows real-world views based on GPS and compass readings is much sexier to show off. Somewhat geekier is The Schwartz Unleashed, complete with motion-sensing lightsaber noises and custom colors.

Phonalyzr and Power Manager are usage tools. The former reads my call log and displays nifty usage data; I don't know how long it will stay around. The latter lets me tweak power preferences, but I don't use it fully.

Shazam really pushes the envelope for the cool factor. Play music, hold the phone to the speaker, wait, and it'll tell you what song you're hearing. Like having a portable music trivia geek in your pocket.

ShopSavvy scans UPS barcodes and returns real-world and web pricing. Very handy when comparison shopping.

I currently only have a few games on my phone, would you believe?

Tetroid: A tetris clone I haven't played yet. Gotta have tetris.

Scrambled Net: A nice port of the puzzle game knetwalk, but since lost its appeal for me. I'm good at these sorts of visual spatial puzzles.

Lexic: A Boggle clone. I like word games, but I have poor skill in Boggle.

Coloroid: Another puzzle game that's a bit maze-like, but not as addicting for me.

DroidDice and Chess Clock do not count as games; they are tools for real face-to-face gaming.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Paint sitrep

Happy Lundi Gras! Here's a quick sitrep before we go paint some more.

Bathroom: One K&B purple window done. Need to obtain an L-shaped shower curtain rod. We will paint this room later, but it's a light blue right now.

Bedroom: Walls, ceiling and trim done. A nice rich darker than sky blue. Needs ten minutes to paint an accent stripe on two windows.

Dining room: Walls, ceiling, trim and the archway shelves done. Needs a third coat of edging around the crown molding. Chocolate and a rich soymilk color. Accent stripes done, need touch-up.

Front room: Same as dining room.

Game room: Walls, ceiling, trim, mostly done. A very light cream on two walls. and a red velvet cake red on the other two walls. Needs second coat edging basically everywhere.

Hallway: Walls and ceiling done; the four doorways need a second coat and touchup on the lintels. Bathroom door needs sanding, priming, and painting. Three out of four accent stripes needed.

Kitchen: Walls and ceiling done in a sagey light green. Baseboards in a nice dark cucumber. Two windows need outside trim done in white, doors need a touch-up/third coat. Accent stripes in Limealicious.

Laundry room: Feh. Most everything is the original peachish; most everything is behind appliances. A later project.

Office: Walls, ceiling, trim done. Needs second coat on ceiling edges. Same color from the front room/hallway/dining room plus a darker toasty caramel.

Unless otherwise noted, trim and ceiling are white in semigloss and flat ceiling paint, respectively.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lurching alongside a recap

Yes, I do in fact still blog occasionally. Thanks to my loyal readership and the power of RSS for those who still follow me. I have not posted an article here in about three weeks, so I don't know how many of you are still checking daily or weekly or what-have-you. But no matter; what are the real purposes of this blog? Let me talk about what has occupied my time.

I have discovered the time sink of both Facebook and Twitter. In some ways, as I've said elsewhere, Twitter is the opposite of blogging, but it does scratch a similar itch. The carefully-nurtured compulsion to write a considered op-ed piece is somewhat assuaged by intermittent 140-character blasts of information. I do not mind tweeting, I just need to balance out what I write and how frequently I do write. On some small level, Twitter forces better writing with its size constraints, something like 55 Fiction or the the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. I have a history of working well with creative constraints. I like cultivating the habit of using fewer words to convey thought more succinctly or eloquently.

Facebook is a great black hole for attention. I don't mind saying hello to old friends and seeing what they're up to; but I draw a mental line against the constant tagging of memes or applications requesting my participation. I'm already not playing enough games I want to play, much less these virtual semi-Pokemon-collection activities. Go read this Time article on how Facebook is more popular than pr0n. What would Maslow say?

I Belong to a book club at work. So far, the roster has included:

  • The Road
  • Those Who Save Us
  • Loving Frank
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • Broom of the System

I liked the first two, didn't finish the last three. I have always instinctively known that I didn't care for NYT bestsellers, but two out of five is not so bad. But I want to read so badly. I eagerly look forward to building shelves and opening boxes and finding treasure.

The house. O, the glory and agony and woes of owning a house. We've owned for three months and have yet to move in. Our target date is the long weekend of Mardi Gras. Those who follow me on Twitter know how much time we have spent painting; for the last week we've had floor guys finishing up doing what needs doing... which prevents painting. I stand by my decision that we needed to paint before moving in, but I still don't love the time it takes to actually prep and paint an entire house. I know that we're saving money by doing it ourselves. I told this to a buddy of mine: "You must learn what you can do, what you can't; what you can learn, what you don't want to do, and what to outsource." Like security decisions, house work (not housework) is a trade-off between time and money and skill and need.

Yes, I still do play games. I've kept my promise to not buy any new games until we live in the house/unpack the game room. On my radar to buy/play: Fallout 3 for Windows/Xbox; Left for Dead for Windows; Portal; Small World, a reimagining of the board game Vinci; Red November. I still have a gift certificate from my Secret Santa burning a hole in my pocket. Probably once a week I'll hit Jay Is Games for some casual Flash goodness.

I have not stretched my geek-fu lately; but I'm aware of colliding satellites IN SPACE, Open Source hardware hacking, forcing Ubuntu and OS X to play together, the future of mobile computing, and two kinds of wireless power.

We have too many things and too much stuff. I look forward to a purge and a cleansing and all sorts of other organization.

NOCCA is still awesome. It is a great environment to work in, and I love the constant exposure to art and creativity.

I don't like to talk about politics or religion, but there have been some nutty things going on in the last month.

It's Mardi Gras in two weeks! Happy Carnival! Eat you a king cake, see you some parades.