Thought I would throw this out there for you Android users. It is called “FastKey” and it is a launcher for your phone or tablet. I installed this and was super impressed on how fast it was; however, I wish it had an option where I could solely use it as an app (and not so much as a default launcher). Anyhow, this launcher keeps a keyboard on your screen and when you need to find something, such as an app, contact, etc…, this launcher is right on top of it.
Google Play Newsstand, typically known as a mobile app (on Android and iOS platforms), is now available on the web (click here). Google Play Newsstand is a personalized news reader that provides a single destination for browsing the topics, news sources, and magazines you care about.
Two years ago Android Auto was launched and was available only in certain model cars. Soon, through the Google Play Store, you will be able to get Android Auto for your Smartphone (Android 5.0 and later) as an app. Android Auto provides a “driver friendly interface to access the key stuff you need on the road ― directions, music, communications ― without the distraction of things that aren’t essential while driving”. You can read more about this HERE and when it will become available.
How-To Geek caught my attention with the Android App called, SMS Backup +, that will automatically backup SMS, MMS and call log entries using a separate label in Gmail / Google Calendar. It is also possible to restore SMS and call log entries back to the phone with this app.
To learn more about how to (step-by-step) configure this app to work with your Gmail, be sure to visit How-To Geek…
You will see numerous articles out there on how to go about using an old smartphone as a home security monitoring device. Two Android Apps to take a look at for this purpose is SalientEye Home Security Alarm and Alfred. Both are FREE…
SalientEye Home Security Alarm – Salient Eye turns any android device into a full home camera security system. The Salient Eye application uses your phone’s camera to sense motion and makes alarm sounds when a break-in occurs. Salient Eye home security app catches intruders red-handed and immediately sends you pictures via email and SMS.
Alfred – Alfred is a video monitor that allows you to check on your home from your smartphone or tablet, wherever you are, thanks to a Wi-Fi or 3G/4G connection. It’s very simple to use Alfred, you just need to install the app on your devices and select one of them to be the Camera and another to be the Viewer.
Here is a pretty cool Android App, called DeskDock, that allows you to share your computer’s mouse (and keyboard) with your Android device via a USB cable.
• Use your computer’s mouse with your Android devices
• Share clipboard between computer and Android devices
• Supports Windows, Linux and macOS
• Works on all Android versions starting from 4.1
• NO rooted device required
• Shortcut for simulating multitouch
• Connect multiple Android devices to one computer
• Flexible arrangement of devices
• Customizable mouse button actions
• Customizable mouse pointer speed
• Ready for Android Nougat
With the changes taking place with Evernote, you may want to take a more minimalistic approach and try Simplenote. I was familiar with Simplenote and decided to give it a try to see if it would be sufficient for my note keeping. What I have found is a very fast and simple (text based) note keeping application, available on many platforms, that (so far) is getting the job done for me. I currently have (and use) Evernote and Microsoft’s OneNote, but what I am finding is that these applications are geared more for the student, the business person, or someone who has a need to collect and maintain a massive amount of information. Simplenote is completely text based with nothing fancy; thus, it is fast. I can search for a note, via a keyword, and have the note up before me at the blink of any eye. If you are looking for something to keep your notes, give Simplenote a try…
Another BIG factor with Simplenote, is that it now Open Source Software where (if you are a coder), you can gain access to the source code and essentially work your magic to make Simplenote even better.
Voice Notify is a excellent Android App, that is useful when driving, that will announce (via Text To Speech) your status bar notification messages. This allows you to keep your eyes on the road and not the screen. You can easily turn the service on and off via an included widget.
- Optionally read toast notifications (Android 3.0+)
- Widget to suspend VN
- Customizable TTS message
- Ignore specific apps or notifications containing defined text
- Choice of TTS audio stream
- Choice of speaking when screen or headset is on or off, or while in silent/vibrate mode
- Quiet Time
- Custom delay of TTS after notification
- Repeat notifications at custom interval while screen off
- Notification log
- Post a test notification
Small Android Utility To Reduce Harmful Effects of Blue Light (that is emitted from Smartphones and Tablets)July 5, 2016
I have been playing around with the various Android utilities that are designed to reduce the harmful effects of blue light (that is emitted from Smartphones and Tablets) and settled with the utility called Bluelight Filter.
If you use your smartphone or tablet at night, this utility will help you protect your eyes; and, help you with getting a good nights sleep. Bluelight Filter is very small in size (84kb) FREE app that has no ads and requires no special permissions (to install).
Have not had a chance to play with this yet; but Opera has released a NEW Android App in the Google Play Store called “News and Search“. I am big into the news aggregator (feed) apps and will be definitely checking this out.
ADDENDUM (6/9/16) – Ok, had some time to install and play around with Opera’s News and Search. At this point, is going to be a keeper on my phone (and tablet). In summary, it is a news aggregator (that you can customize channels to meet your interests) that is built on top of a flavor of the Opera browser designed for the dual purpose of setting up channels (of your interests) and for surfing the internet (as you would with any browser). It took me a bit of time to navigate around; but, once I learned, I really like where all of the controls are located. Very impressive at this point…
Browse hot topics, trending & breaking news per category and even connect your Twitter account to get an overview of all the news stories shared by your friends’ networks. Stories you want to keep or share can easily be added to the built-in reading list.
I am not going to get into all of the in’s and out’s of EAS (Easy App Switcher); but, if you want to increase your productivity on your Android devices, I highly recommend this app. It is a little tricky to set up, but once you do, you will not regret it. This app, of any that I have tested, gives you true multi-tasking capabilities; allowing to switch back and forth between apps, launching apps, and visiting most recent apps.
An Easy To Use Backup Program – Nearly every home based computer user that I have encountered do not backup their personal files. Most of what files people have stored on their computers they feel are files that are unimportant; until the moment comes that they lose those files. An example being, many people store family pictures on their computers. At the moment they may seem unimportant; however, when the computer fails (and it will), all of the sudden you realize that you lost precious memories. If you fall into this category, which most likely you do, please take the time to purchase an external hard drive (click here) and establish a backup plan. Finding an external hard drive and connecting it is the easy part. Finding a software solution is another matter. To help you along, a software solution that I use is called
To help you along, a software solution that I use is called Bvckup 2. If you visit the site you will see that it is software that you have to buy; however, to get around that option, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page where the download button is located, you will see “Looking for the last beta?”. If you click on that link you can download the last beta version of Bvckup, which is FREE. By trying out the beta, you may be encouraged to purchase the software; however, I have found the beta’s of BVCkup 2 to work perfectly fine for our purposes. Bvckup 2 is easy to use (and learn) and it does not compress, encrypt or FTP files. It’s not a two-way sync nor is it a full system backup software. It simply makes a copy of your personal files from your computer to a designated location on the external hard drive; AND, the best part (by default), Bvckup will automatically perform these backups for you in real-time.
Turn Your Android Smartphone Into A Digital Bubble Level – Our smartphones have many other purposes other than making calls and texting. For example, did you know you can turn your smartphone into a bubble level that comes in handy when you need to make sure a picture is hung straight on the wall, or a length of lumber is level, etc… If you search the Google Play store you will many bubble level apps available. The one that I settled for is an app developed by a company who actually makes levels, called Rigid. The app that they have developed is called Rigid Digital Bubble Level. This app features a calibration mode that will allow you to use this app in three views: Bubble View (the standard bubble level you’re used to); Horizon View (a horizon line that twists as you rotate. Enable the camera feature in this view to level things from afar.); and, Flat View (placing the phone on a surface activates this view where an optional beep can indicate how level the surface is without needing to look at the screen.)…
A Gizmodo Field Guide To 9 Google Now Voice Commands to Take Control of Your Smartphone – I am sure, if you own a Google based Android phone, you have used the “ok Google” feature where you speak to your phone by saying “ok google” and then tell (speak to) the Google Now Assistant to perform searches, etc… I am still trying to get used to this, but when I do use it I am really amazed of the accuracy and the results. Along with performing searches there are other commands you can give. Gizmodo has put together a nice field guide to “9 Google Now Voice Commands To Take Control Of Your Smartphone” that you need to learn. Commands such as turning your wi-fi on/off; the flashlight on/off; read text messages; etc…
verykool Sleek, Contemporary Unlocked GSM Phones – I was focused on smartphones when I visited Amazon and what I came across is a smartphone brand that I have never heard of (called verykool). What caught my eye and made me look more than twice was the unbelievable super low pricing. Based on the low number of customer reviews (which, by the way are high ratings), verykool must be a newcomer at Amazon. I will definitely be keeping an eye on this smartphone brand that just may change the whole landscape of things when it comes to smartphones.
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Geek Squeaks (#2015-41) FEATURING — Three WordPress.com Blogging Editors To Consider — and MORE GREAT STUFFDecember 21, 2015
Three WordPress.com Blogging Editors To Consider – About a year ago I was at wits end in trying to find an editor that I could use at the desktop level to draft my blog articles. Today, if you are an avid blogger or want to give blogging a try, you need to know that there are several options available. Some of these editors support other blogging platforms, but what I am outlining here in this geek squeak article is editors that I know work with the WordPress.com platform (which is the online cloud based version of WordPress).
To keep this simple and allow you to do a quick read; three options to consider are:
ScribeFire – This editor is actually a browser extension (for Firefox and Chrome) that I use (and love). I think what sells me on this is that it is a basic editor, is fast, and dependable. The cons with ScribeFire is that, due to its’ simplicity, you have to do the final touches online (with the formatting) using the online WordPress editor. Otherwise, ScribeFire has worked for me. ScribeFire is a full-featured blog editor that integrates with your browser and lets you easily post to all of your blogs.
Open Live Writer – Remember the Windows version of Live Writer. I actually used that prior to ScribeFire; however, due to changes at Microsoft and the operating system upgrades the Microsoft version of Live Writer is basically a dead duck in the water. Due to numerous people using Live Writer, a group of talented contributors have turned what it used to be into an open source program called Open Live Writer. Open Live Writer is like Word for your blog. Open Live Writer is a powerful, lightweight blog editor that allows you to create blog posts, add photos and videos then publish to your website.
New WordPress.com Desktop App – WordPress.com must have heard our cries and know that in order to continue as one of the premiere blogging platforms there has to be options made available in order for people to remain within their blogging empire. I can tell you from being a blogger since 2008, WordPress is the way to go. With the new Windows and Mac based apps you can manage your sites, write and publish, and even customize your site and view stats from a dedicated app in your Windows Start Menu.
Happy Holidays To My Reader And To My Favorite Blogging Friends – I want to wish my readers’ a safe and happy holiday season; AND, hope that you will continue to visit my blog. I love blogging about information technology, and have been doing so since 2008. During this journey there is a group of bloggers that have kept together in the virtual sense (even though none of us have physically met each other). Those bloggers, whom I have great respect for are Steve, Bill, Paul, and Michael (and Jason). I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season…
Bluetooth Speaker Makes Great Gift – If you are looking to gift someone, consider a portable bluetooth speaker. Currently Anker has a new release at Amazon (that has become a best seller) called the Anker SoundCore. Right now the customer reviews on this little beast is very good. Points that standout with this speaker is battery life (24-hour / 500-song playtime powered by a built-in high capacity Li-ion battery) and Bluetooth 4.0 Technology (compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled devices. Instantly connect to your smartphone or tablet from up to 66 feet away. SoundCore reconnects automatically to the last device used. Built-in mic for hands-free calls.). What you get is the Anker SoundCore Bluetooth speaker, Micro USB charging cable, welcome guide, and 18-month warranty).
Turn Your Android Device Into An At Home Video Monitoring Device – Have a tablet or an old smartphone around? If so, put it to work using the AtHome Camera – Home Security App. This app, using a three step process, will turn the device into a home video monitoring device that can be accessed when you are away.
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards – If you love animals, then you will love these hilarious and funny pictures (with a funny caption). For example the picture you see below was captioned “Rush Hour”. To see the original “Rush Hour” and others visit The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. The cool thing about this is that no digital manipulation was allowed in order to enter the contest.
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Geek Squeaks (#2015-30) FEATURING — Use This App To Create Your Own Android Car Dashboard — and MORE GREAT STUFFOctober 5, 2015
Use This App To Create Your Own Android Car Dashboard – Many auto manufacturers as well as aftermarket units are bringing Android to the dashboard of your car. One such example is Android Auto that projects or casts what is on your phone onto a compatible dashboard touchscreen; but, most of us do not have the luxury of this technology. To fill in this gap, did you know that there is an android app called Car Dashdroid.
Car Dashdroid does not project to a screen in your car’s dashboard; however, it will turn your phone into a distraction free device that has been specifically developed for use in your car. I have been testing this app and can attest that it is very good. In summary, Car Dashdroid is a car home dock replacement that makes driving easy (and safer)! It can switch on and off with your car (using Bluetooth), and return from any app to the specially-designed Car Dashdroid homescreen with a press of the Home button while connected (see settings). The interface features large buttons to launch apps (such as your GPS mapping app) and can be set to read incoming text messages to you (and you can respond back without taking your hands off the wheel). This app is fully customizable; for example, you can set up to 16 shortcuts for your favorite apps, contacts, and even shortcuts to custom actions like directions to a particular place, opening a specific playlist, or sending a pre-written message (like “On my way!” or “Stuck in traffic!”). You can use it FREE (with ads) and with some of the features disabled; however, if I were to buy an android app, this is one that I would buy. (UPDATE – I did buy this app!)…
How To Update Windows In An Isolated Environment – Another tool for the tech toolbox is Portable Update. This tool is used to perform Windows updates on a computer where there is limited or no internet connection. Portable Update uses an external cache to store updates. The cache can reside on any usb external drive or, via private lan network, on a shared path. Once an update is copied to the cache (the only time that an internet connection is required), the same update will be used for all computer that need that particular update. I have added Portable Update to the What’s On My PC downloads page (under the Portable Apps Swarm).
Daimler Driverless Truck Tested – I’ve been saying that one of the first areas of transportation that will host autonomous driving is the truck industry. Take a look at the this article, “Daimler driverless lorry tested in motorway traffic” …
Compact Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank – I don’t know about you, but my smartphone has become an extension of my body. I feel lost when I don’t have it in my possession and frustrated when it needs charged. To remedy the charging issue, I am exploring (looking at) the compact portable chargers. One that has caught my eye, that is inexpensive and has great customer reviews is the Anker Astro E1 5200mAh Ultra Compact Portable Charger External Battery Power Bank … One in three chargers sold on Amazon are from Anker!
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