Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Updates: Android 4.3 on Nexus 7, SafeMonk, and More

Nexus 7 NEW 4-3Just received my update for my Nexus 7 to Android 4.3. I have to admit it is faster and cleaner. I have not gotten deep down in however what I see I like. I was impressed that it was pushed out as fast as it was. I had read all about the NEW Nexus 7 (I really want that front facing camera) and the article said that Google would be pushing out the Android 4.3 update but did not specify a date. I think that the telecom's could take a lesson from this. I could be tempted to buy a Nexus phone if one is offered in the future.

On Feedly: I am really beginning to love My Feedly (over from Google Reader). In reviewing my news on My Feedly I picked up a few new things from Lifehacker. One of those was SafeMonk for Dropbox. Since I currently use Skydrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive my biggest concern has been putting documents in any of the services that I want to feel secure about, security is a personal issue.

I have tried using TrueCrypt however it did not work on my phone and although GOOD it is cumbersome.  SafeMonk allows me to put documents into an encrypted folder and yet I can open them on my phone, my Nexus 7, and on my iPad, not to mention my desktop and notebook computers. All services available for Android, iOS, OS (Mac) and Windows.  I guess my real plus here is that I like Dropbox synchs speed over Skydrive and Google Drive. Dropbox is very clean. safemonk

SafeMonk  was easy to install on all devices. Actually the ease of installation on my Samsung Galaxy S3 surprised me. With SafeMonk I can also share ‘secured’ documents with collaborators (that sounds very underground).

On a side note: I just received an email from Evernote saying thank you for being on Evernote for over 5 years. With 65,000,000 users my user number is under 50,000 – cool. I started with Evernote using the FREE service and I am now a “Premium” user. Dropbox is the same. I am still using the FREE 2GB however I will be moving up to the paid service as I find it very valuable and easy to use. Most other services have some hoops you have jump through, Dropbox does not have that.

And now MORE. While checking out Lifehacker I discovered Contacts+ for Android, really nice. It handles my address book, dialer, instant messaging, and can connect with Facebook as well as Twitter. I actually linked it to Linked In and was very happy with that. The ease of access to all your contacts (with pictures) is really nice. Contacts+ will be replacing my other messaging apps as well as my current contact list that came with my device. I have installed in on my Nexus 7 also. Would love to see this as an app for my Windows based computer.

As a closing note my Chromecast has been shipped (ordered early first day) and should be here by the end of the week. Looking forward to it. I have already installed the extension on all Chrome browsers and just waiting for delivery.  I received my 3 month free subscription code for Netflix.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Learning, Windows 8 (8.1), Apps, Life and More

I am a Learner, a constant student, inquisitive and a creator. I have learned to use Windows 8.1 because I wanted to. I have also learned to use my smartphone, my iPad, my Nexus 7, all because “I” wanted to. I leaned to write in Fortran in the 70’s because I wanted to. I believe it is this attitude that really drives all of us to learn anything, something. We do not learn if we are really not interested.

I think this learning thing all started with learning to tie your shoes and other ‘early’ on training that was necessary to go into life. It didn’t stop there and it continues on thought out life. Look what I can do now Mom.  

There is the possibility that we might be able to work with something we are not interested in, however we never learn it. The tool remains a foreign object and in this form we are always frustrated, or in the case of a chain saw we can get hurt. It is this mind set that does not like change. In some cases we are nothing more than automaton’s, human robots. We do not evolve and we stay stuck.

I am going to assume (I know the other meaning) that you are reading this perhaps you are a ‘learner’s’ or doer, or worker in the true sense. To be good at what we do we need tools and we need to LEARN them. More than learn we need to KNOW!

I want to discuss our recent apps phenomena. 

I like apps. I think they are very powerful. I believe that this is the near future for technical progress. I do not relate completely to the far future (2260’s) as I had not seen anyone in Star Trek refer to the use of apps. I do not remember seeing Captain Kirk or Spock working with Microsoft Office (or any Apple, Android software). Hmmm….. I wonder if they make it to the far future?

Now for the problem. I like apps on the phone or on a small tablet however on a computer, or larger tablet, they are a lost cause. Apps that cannot be resized on larger screens are a problem. I am not referring to resizing them to a 1/4 or 1/2 screen, I mean my personal choice of size and placement on screen.

Take my Windows 8 (now 8.1). Love it, however the apps are not quite right. At home I have two 23” monitors, I do not need a 23” Weather app, photo app, or news app. Even solitaire is a bit out of line. Now the world can, from 200 yards, see that I am killing time.

Why not consider an app window that one could size and place apps at a spot they want. Let’s see. I want the weather app, a news app, and a sports app, of reasonable size, that I could visually quickly scan to see changing events. I want them right here on this screen, somewhat like placing apps on my smartphone. I also might want to quickly preview changes in Facebook or Twitter.

As I said, just like on my phone, I should be able to have multiple screens. One of those would be my work screen which in effect would be my desktop or home screen. With the advent of a second (or third) monitor I could open the screens up to be shared on each monitor. I should be able to fly directly to the screen of action when I need to, not scroll, or swipe back and forth. Touch dots, that’s what we need.

This is possible with Touch however the apps are not quite right. The same application could be applied to larger tablets; 9”, 10”. There are now “18” to 20” tablets being built, a little overkill (my thoughts) for a tablet but that’s OK.

ALL tablets should be working devices and I should never again here ‘entertainment’ device. My computer is an entertainment device, the statement is meaningless. Why have a device for a single purpose?

While apps are not the final frontier they have to get us there – or at least be a stepping stone. Can you hear me Apple, Google, Microsoft? Give us from freedom to do our own thing!

Commander Scott (Scotty) we need some help here in the 21st Century. Please have a talk with the engineers.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Restore The 4th

Let’s keep on enjoying the true meaning of Independence as well as keeping Freedom alive in these United States.4th_amendment

Monday, July 1, 2013

Update on Windows 8.1 Preview Install

I am still all in favor of the Windows 8.1 Preview that I wrote about this morning. There has been one additional issue and that is the printer drivers for my HP Photosmart C4780 All-In-One printer. I had to  uninstall the driver’s and re-install the whole package.

Interestingly the HP uninstaller crashed when it was almost complete on both desktop as well as laptop. At that point I restarted the computer and used the downloaded file, from HP, to re-install all the drivers. The re-install was faster than any install I had done previously and I was back up and running very fast.

Let me point out that the printer aspect of my HP Photosmart printer was functioning as it should have been after the Windows 8.1 Preview install. What was missing was the ability to scan.

I had identical experiences with both desktop and laptop and after re-install all worked well. I really have not noticed any down experiences with the Windows 8.1 Preview. For the most part I have found it fun to discover the changes.

I was reminded tonight that, over the past weekend, I had said I was finished with Beta testing. In the past I had jumped at every chance to be the first on the block to try anything but now I am tired of all the ‘Clean’ installs and all the issues so I am out of the Beta testing.

Welllll…… that didn’t take long. How about that Windows 8.1 Preview – works great!

I am hoping that the final release will be as easy. I know ‘Clean’ installs are good for the system, gets rid of the junk, but they are hard on the time these days. Way too much software installed. 

Happy Tuesday – well it will be in a few hours….

Windows 8.1 Preview–Looks GOOD Plus One Suggestion

Saturday I installed the Windows 8.1 Preview on my desktop computer. I really liked it and although I likedwindows-8.1 -B Windows 8 (the original) I thought the update was quite good. I use my desktop for all initial experiments, if it works and holds up then I will install on my laptop.

First let me say that I liked the previous Start fly-out tile (if you will) on the desktop that would switch you back to the Start screen. The new Start button, again to me, is somewhat of a laughable concession to the whiners. Whatever it takes to please. It works, and like the previous fly-out tile, if you right click on the Start button you will find more options, one of which will allow you to shutdown. All prior keyboard shortcuts still appear to work and that is good.

I like the idea that I can resize the tiles, that is very nice. The new colors are fun however it would be neat if we could add our own photograph (different from the desktop) to the Start screen but I am not complaining. The bright colors on the tiles I like very much, nice enhancement.

The new down arrow to get to all the apps is another concession that works, the right mouse click was good also. It is a bit more obvious. I guess this was a big deal to ‘old’ users, new people figured it out right away. Oh wait a minute, I’m an old user.  Hmmm…..

I love the idea that I can put a really nice slide show on the Lock screen. I experimented with that and over the dual monitors on the desktop and it was a really nice show.

The only issue I had was a sound card driver I had previously installed. My Creative card would not run on Windows 8 so I purchased a less expensive one and installed it. After the installation of Windows 8 all I had to do was re-install the drivers and it worked. I’m in.

This Windows 8.1 Preview looked so good I installed it on my laptop yesterday with the same results, very good.

Now I have a suggestion that has been brought about by the new Windows 8.1 Preview and the ability to resize the tiles.

First a little background: I use my laptop as an instructional device. I teach as well as consult Microsoft Office application software, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, and other. I teach software beyond Office however these are the prime products. These software products are all part of Office 2013, Office 2010, and Office 2007. All are installed on my laptop. I use two profiles, one personal, and one as Instructor.

Orig tile layoutSince I can resize the tiles on the start screen it would be a great idea to be able to use a specific column for more than one titled layout. On the left is a picture of a partial layout of the Office 2013 and Office 2010 tiles side by side.

tufte-wallpaper modBecause I resized the tiles I would like to move the Office 2010 tiles below the Office 2013 and still be able to have the title line as in the example shown on the lower left. If this were to work I could actually add Office 2007 below the Office 2010 buttons and there be able to better utilize the screen.

I am sure there are others who could re-organized their Start screen in much the same fashion. I have columns for Utilities, Shopping apps, Design, and Development, as well as the Office products.

When working on the large 23” HD monitors connected to the desktop this is not much of a problem but would be nice to do. On my laptop this would be fantastic.

I really do like this update and I feel, since this is a Preview, perhaps there will be more to the final release.  I am looking forward to the final release this fall – sometime.

ENJOY your week…