Smart Phone

My Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1So I’ve had my new Windows Phone for roughly six months now.  I can say without any doubt, that it was the best $50 I ever spent on a Smart Phone.  Unlike my previous “low cost” Android phones, this one is faster and smarter in every way.  In the past 5 years, I’ve spent roughly $500 on Android phones that were supposed to be entry level and money saving.  But they always needed to be rebooted or didn’t have enough memory to run anything.  This was complicated by the fact that services like Virgin ran over the already over saturated Sprint network.  In addition, all the low cost Androids were on 3G at the time.  If you wanted 4G, you had to buy a much more expensive Android.  Defeating the idea of low cost.

Granted, I tried recently to go with an actual contract version of my Windows Phone on the model the Nokia Lumia 1020.  You know the one with the nifty 41 Megapixel camera?  Yeah (drools)

My situations being what they are, they wanted a security deposit and then an insurance plan paid monthly.  I think I’ll stick with my Nokia Lumia 520 that I can replace for another $50 if I destroy it on accident.  Besides the low cost monthly $40 plan suites me just fine.  So all in all, I’m finally saving money on my smart phone.  I don’t think I’ve kept an Android more than 6 months.  I still can’t justify the cost of an iPhone when I can do the same for so much less and I find the interface of the new Windows Phone 8.1 to be incredibly sexy.

Oh yeah, I signed up for the “developer preview” and am currently running Windows Phone 8.1.  It’s not as crazy social networking integrated as Windows Phone 8.  I miss being able to use my SMS interface to message my Facebook friends and family.  (I did not just say that. /facepalm)  Or view photos from all my Facebook friends and family.  (Oh god, it’s sucking me in.  MAKE IT STOP!!!)

You know, I blame all of you for forcing me to use Facebook…  Just so you know.  It’s not my fault you can’t just be happy with email and text messaging and have forgotten what a real website looks like.  Bastages…

</end rant>

OK, what was I saying?  Oh yeah, I’m using Windows Phone 8.1 now.  The upgrade will be free when it’s released in final version.  Though I can say the preview version works very well.  I do like being able to change the background image such as my multicolored bubbles or swirls as pictured above.  The coolest things are the live tiles that keep me up to date and now that you can customize fully the sounds and alerts you get from each app you use.  Plus, Cortana is turning out the be very handy.  Yes, I’ve tried to mess with her some.  Turns out whoever programmed her responses has a great sense of humor.  Just ask her to sing you a song, tell you a joke or predict the World Cup sometime ;)

My favorite features are still how it seamlessly integrates all my contacts from Facebook, Skype, Twitter (if I had Twitter), Microsoft/Outlook and more and allows me to do just about everything right from my contacts list.  From sending messages to sharing photos and thoughts.

I also have to admit the voice recognition is far superior to that of Android.  Though I don’t have an iPhone to borrow to test that with.  So I’ve no idea how iPhone handles voice commands and typing for me.

But my favorite feature of all time.  Swipe typing!  Fastest way to text and send emails (or anything else that requires typing really).

It’s just the best phone for the money.  Period.  I get to do all sorts of nifty things and the selection of apps is growing daily. :)

Just some of my lock screens.  Just felt like sharing.  (forgive my OCD, their in Alphabetical order)

Lock Screens

Responsive Web Design by CastleRain

Even though I’ll be a die hard desktop computer user for many more years to come.  The world is moving toward mobile.  Having a website that displays on smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices has become absolutely crucial.  More and more customers are retiring their desktop computers in favor of their mobile devices.  They can take them everywhere and they are far more comfortable with using these devices than they ever were with complicated software found PC’s, Macs and even those who dabbled with Linux desktops.

Since this is not only the case, but the firm growth on the future of the internet.  Everyone who has a website should get on board with this way of thinking.  Websites that are not mobile friendly, lose customers within minutes because they cannot find what they need quickly and have a hard time reading and interacting with the content provided.

Did you know 6 out of 10 mobile users will leave a non-mobile friendly website?  How many potential customers have you lost because of this?  If so, ask yourself these five questions about your website:

  1. Would a mobile user find it easy to browse your website?
  2. If a mobile user is on your website, can they find the information they need quickly and easily without zooming in and out?
  3. Can your customer find your location quickly using their mobile device?
  4. Do your customers recommend other potential customers recommend your website because it is mobile friendly?
  5. Is your lack of a mobile friendly website forcing your potential customers to others who have a mobile friendly site?

Just as food for thought, Google is predicting that mobile searches will become more popular than desktop searches by 2014.  Which means it may already be the case.  Your website should be mobile friendly by now.  Even big name companies who have mobile apps have websites that are mobile friendly for those who choose not to install the apps.  Companies such as Facebook, Amazon, Google and thousands more can be used merely by the web browser on your mobile device.  They load quickly and have no need for zooming in or out.

Responsive Web Design by CastleRainClick for Larger Image

I can help make you a mobile friendly, responsive website.  I’m not a big time web designer, but I have tools excellent for small businesses, organizations and more!  I can make you elegant, responsive websites and WordPress themes.  I’m low cost and local as well.  Check me out at CastleRain Web Design.

Goodbye Virgin! Hello Verizon!

Samsung Galaxy ProclaimThat’s all I can stands, I can’t stands no more!  So said Popeye anyways.  I’ve been with Virgin Mobile for a number of years now.  I did like their customer service and low cost phones.  However, when I got my first Android about 2 years ago, I learned that their 3G service in my area just sucks eggs.  It rides on the Sprint network and around Hampton Roads, it’s so over sold that a person is lucky if they get 0.1MB download speeds on average currently.  It was around 0.5MB at first, but as time went on, it got much worse.  To the point it was completely unusable.  My Waze app would always have a hard time keeping up to date.

That and with my up coming move, Sprint’s network barely covers Gaylord.  Most of the county is not covered at all.  Upon doing some research, Verizon and AT&T have the best to offer in my home town.  There was only one thing left to do.  Switch.

Although I couldn’t go for the phone I wanted because I wanted to keep most of my money in the bank, I did get this nifty little number.  It’s not super powerful or flashy, but it’s pretty solid.  A Samsung Galaxy Proclaim (a.k.a. Illusion clone).

I do like this version of the unlock and notification screen :) Handy to be able to swipe directly to a text message (orange circles) or missed call (red circles).

According to the coverage map for Verizon, I shouldn’t have too much trouble in Northern Michigan for service.  As well as it certainly is nice to get some decent 3G speeds while I’m still stuck for the next month.  There is no point in going to a 4G or 4G LTE phone, since there isn’t any 4G yet in my small home town.  There is in Traverse City, but I’m not going to live there.  Just visit…  Frequently…

Got to readjust to small town life.  Now I just need find an affordable place to live up there that has high speed internet.  So I can telecommute to my job here in Virginia.

App Madness Continues!

App MadnessSeems that the need for apps on different platforms is just going out of control from where I sit.  I talked about this before.  Apps being on all different flavors of smartphones from Android, to iPhone, to Crackberry.  With tablet versions of each for the respective mobile OS.  Then the need to support old and new versions of each OS as they update every few months unlike a computer OS.  Although, that seems to be changing as well with Windows and OS X doing more frequent updates than they used too.

With all the different OS options a developer has to deal with, it’s amazing they have time to make improvements.  It seems they would end up spending all their time patching issues rather than developing new software.

If this type of thing hasn’t already proven itself a bad idea with the load of different Linux flavors out on the market today; with their different install methods and variations of how they present things to the end user… It’s a wonder they gain ground at all.  To the average Joe, that’s just confusing.

Granted, installing apps on a mobile device is just tap and done usually.  Thus the wide spread popularity.  It’s easy to use.  (knock, knock, knock Mr. Penguin)

And speaking of Linux, the boys and girls at Ubuntu have decided to throw their hat in the ring.  Making their own Mobile OS.  Also, the folks at the Mozilla camp are poising to release Firefox OS.  Both will of course have app stores.  So developers will have to learn the new OS’s if they want to grab a slice of that audience for their wares.

Oh and of course we can’t forget that great new Operating System all my customers hate… Windows 8…  Now you have desktop programs and Metro apps!!  Yippee!  You can have Internet Exploiter as an app, and Skype as an app.   I guess having the desktop programs wasn’t enough.  Now we have 2 of each installed on the same PC.  You know Ma and Pa kettle haven’t a clue they only need the one.  And it’s likely they won’t share info between two.  Did you know favorites in Internet Exploiter Desktop are not available in Internet Exploiter for Metro?  So I’m told anyways.  I don’t use it.  Still not a Metro fan.

Oh and let’s not forget your TV, Media device and Blu-Ray player has apps too!

Question that I see is…. When do app developers finally say enough of this nonsense!?!??  There are so many platforms they have to write the same software for over and over.  It’s freaking delusional that they have to put up with this so their fans can have their software.  How about a little cross platform love?  Or a few less damned platforms…  I’m glad I’m not an app developer.  As a Web Designer, it’s hard enough to make sure that my sites look good on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Exploiter, Opera and Safari web browsers.  Although I’ve considered developing for Android apps, but then my audience would only get the one platform.  I don’t have the time, patients or money to learn iPhone, Crackberry, Metro, Chrome, Ubuntu, Firefox OS and all the others…

It’s Nuckin’ Futs!!

My LG Optimus Elite

Circumstances of an unfortunate situation has led me to get a new smart phone.  My old LG Optimus V, while rooted and able to do my most needed functions, kept me at odds for lack of space every time my apps updated.  I don’t know why and have been unable to find information on how to keep my apps under control.  Each time my apps updated, I’d quickly lose space on my phone.  In a week too two weeks, my phone would go from 45MB space free to under 20MB.  I would reset my phone, reload all the apps by going through my handy list on the bottom of my freeware page.  Only to repeat it within a week or so.  As anyone can imagine, this is endlessly frustrating.

Thankfully, Best Buy happened to have one of the latest phones from my carrier Virgin Mobile on sale from $149 to $129.  Cheaper than when I bought my Optimus V.  (sadly it got lowered in price 2 days later)  Of course, I ended up losing my phone having root.  Though the only reason for me to root my Optimus V was so that I could get rid of the endless bloatware that came with that phone.  So it’s not a deal breaker by any means.  I also learned a hard lesson.  I am a user of Quick Settings as it was handy, and FoxFi to turn my little phone into a wireless hotspot.  I didn’t know that Quick Settings also had hotspot capabilities.  However (comma), little did I know that using apps with hotspot capabilities would essentially destroy my new phone and disable it’s 3G capabilities.  I imagine that this is not an intended issue, but more or less an incompatibility.  So within a day, I had an error 67 popping up every minute or so.  Making my new Optimus Elite unusable.  Again, not a necessary feature.   Knowing how dealing with mobile support techs is far more painful than the folks at Best Buy, I opted to return my faulty phone for an exchange.

Now that I have the replacement, this phone is much faster, and has enormous amounts of space to use.  I simply moved my SD card from my old phone to my new one and now I’ve got space to burn.  I’m sure that I can go a very long time now before having to reset anything.  Other nifty bonuses include Flash support so I can use it surfing the net instead of using specific apps.  I’ve only had the phone a few days, but so far I’m very pleased with it.  Sadly, I still live in Redneck land, so my service is lacking but since I plan to relocate as soon as possible, there is no need to change services.  Besides I love my no contract way of life :)

Plus I can finally play my Earth and Legend.  If I used it on my old phone, it would be pretty much the only app I could have on it.  Thankfully those days are now over.  So far so good :)

Now, if only I can find a replacement app for Quick Settings as using the default settings system for Android 2.3.7 is a real clunky option.  However, I don’t want it to have any kind of wifi hotspot capabilities for fear of dorking up my current phone.  Suggestions are welcome in the comments here, facebook, google plus or you can email me.

apps… Apps! APPS!!!

Holy Mackerel!  Everywhere I turn it’s apps… Apps!  APPS!!!  Talk about a run away train!  You’ve got apps for your Smart Phone, apps for your Tablet  or iPad, you’ve got apps for your PC and Mac, you’ve even got apps for your toolbars!  Now, I opened up Google Chrome for the first time in days and I get attacked with “Get apps for your browser!”!  Are you flipping kidding me?  I need apps in my browser?  It’s not good enough to have toolbars and addons, now I need apps?  So I want to start my OS, get logged onto the internet and then start apps in my browser?  It’s like having an OS inside my OS because for some reason I need to run programs inside of programs that are run from programs.

Then there’s this ever growing issue of you can use some of your favorite apps on your Smart Phone, but not your PC.  You can use some apps on your Tablet and your PC but not on your Phone.  You can use some apps on your Phone, iPod and Tablet but not your Mac.  Or your PC, Mac and Phone but not your iPad.  Or some other idiotic combination or other.

My head hurts.

Or this app can do this, but another does that for the previous.  Like I see there is apps for Netflix for example that one plays Netflix, another organizes it and others let you do other things with Netflix.  What the hell is that about?

Having so many different platforms and devices and this madness to have apps installed on all of them is mind wrenching.  Makes me wonder how the everyday Joe that calls me who can’t tell me what version of Windows or Mac they use, gets by…

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