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Archive for the 'My Android Tips' Category

Top 5 Reasons Waze Is The Killer App For GPS Navigation

wazeAfter being an early adopter of Waze and getting a bit bored with it long ago, I returned to the app a few months ago to give it a second chance. In the time, they added millions of users and became THE killer app for navigation.  Simply put,  not using Waze now is akin to still using your typewriter for communication.  When I left the first time, it was like leaving before the end a sports game. I should have given it more time.

Here are the Top 5 reasons why Waze rules the navigation world:

1) It is the most accurate traffic reporting system your money can’t by (because it’s FREE just in case you didn’t get it.) The real time input on traffic speeds from millions of drivers is up to the minute. That’s really two of the top 5 reasons.

2) Automatic routing to the fastest way to reach your destination. I was at a conference in Nashville. While driving from my hotel to the conference location, Waze took me around an accident that occurred a short time earlier and saved me a 20 minute delay in an unfamiliar area. The bus full of my fellow conference attendees arrived 10 minutes before I did, but left 30 minutes before me.

3) Real time input from Waze users for hazards which includes accidents, debris, police cars, weather and more.

4) Pulls destination options in from Waze, Yelp, Facebook, Google, Bing and Yellow Pages all within the app.

5) Remember, I said this earlier. It’s free!

Waze has been so successful that Google recently acquired it. It’s free, accurate, and feature-packed.

As you drive, Waze will notify you via pop-ups if there are incidents on the road ahead of you. Slow traffic, incidents and accidents, police presence, and speed cameras are triggers for notifications. Waze provides these notifications all the time regardless of whether you have plugged in a specific destination or not.  It’s valuable while driving in even the most familiar areas.

With my Samsung Galaxy Note II phone, I’ve completely eliminated 3 pieces from my travel bag. I no longer take my old Garmin unit with it’s often outdated maps and strange pathways to some locations, no extra charging cord and no odd shaped window cling to hold the nave in place in my rental car.  I just stick my phone on the dash, plug it into the charger, and come away with better navigation and a charged phone.

You can find Waze in the Google Play Store, and I’m pretty sure they have it for that other phone maker who is losing market share to Samsung. ;)

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Kingstone Comics and Hollywood Jesus Team Up for Discount on Christian Comics and Graphic Novels

Most folks know but just in case you don’t, I serve on the Board for the Christian Comic Arts Society. CCAS is an association of professionals and fans who are Christians and love comics: faith-based comics, faith friendly comics, and comics in general!

My friends at Kingstone Comics and HollywoodJesus.com put together a 25% off deal that I want to be sure all my friends have seen! Kingstone is one of the top Christian comics houses with great storylines and great artwork. Check out their stuff if you haven’t already.

Use the code HJ47 to get the discount.

You can also get a free comic by downloading the Kingstone app for your iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet.

KINGSTONE COMICS

The best in Christian comic book and Biblical worldview graphic novels.

Offering 25% discount on best selling titles.

Visit our Web Site
orders@kingstonemedia.com
or call (352) 728-1414

The Book of God tells the historical and reliable journey of how God gave us the Holy Bible.

Find this and other great titles at KingstoneMedia.com. Products can also be purchased via Kindle, Nook, iTunes.

Download the Kingstone Comics app on the iPad or Android and get a free comic.

 

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Android Tip: Dropbox Gives You 500MB Free

DropboxDropbox lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. The free version gives you 2GB of space to use, though you can add several more MB of space by clicking the GET FREE SPACE options linked via their desktop interface on the right site.

HOWEVER for the BIG BONUS, be sure to download the Dropbox App via the Google Play store to your Android smartphone.  If you opt to sync pictures, they will give you an extra 500 MB OF SPACE FOR FREE!

Using this photo bonus and most of the other free space options, I’ve already moved from the basic 2GB to 3.2GB – all FREE!

Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, your Android device, and even the Dropbox website! With the Dropbox app, you can take everything that matters to you on the go.

Read your docs or flip through your albums when you’re out and about. Save photos or videos to your Dropbox and share them with friends in just a couple taps. Even if you accidentally leave your Android in a taxi, your stuff is always safe on Dropbox.

Features:
• Always have your stuff with you, no matter where you are.
• Save photos and videos to your Dropbox.
• Share your photos and docs with family and friends.
• Save email attachments straight to your Dropbox.
• Easily edit docs in your Dropbox.

We’re using this for our FrontGate Media staff to have immediate access to key shared files even when they can’t reach our internal shared folders on our server.

For example, when a staffer is on a trip, using Dropbox they can access our core grid of Christian web sites and event promotional options, our IO template for writing up ad promotions or Christian event sponsorships, and our faith-based Audience Delivery Services template for our social media services, public relations and pay per click promotional options as we help faith-based for-profit and non-profit organizations to build their audience.

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When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly – Part 4 of 4

The Cloud is certainly hanging over us.  Most of the articles I read, talk about the Cloud’s amazing silver linings.  The marketplace is certainly doing its best to sing the praises of the tremendous benefits that rain from the Cloud.  There certainly are benefits.  I also see lots of reasons to bring along my umbrella. Sometimes the rain just leaves you soggy and smelly. Just ask your dog.

When is being in the Cloud not so heavenly? The last of a four part series…

How about a conclusion?
LifeLockSome of these stories are not recent. The problem is that they are still relevant.  I’m concerned equally about my confidential business data and personal identity theft.  Just ask CEO Todd Davis at LifeLock.

The situation is this:  I personally am not the target anymore, and neither are you. It’s not the waiter at the restaurant stealing the carbon from your credit card slip, if you even remember that ever happening. It’s the hacker in China, Eastern Europe or the Middle East conducting tech jihad against your Cloud provider.

My single laptop, or even my whole office of 11 computers is a far smaller and safer place for my sensitive data to reside.  Really, we don’t have anything worth stealing in comparison to what our Cloud service provider has on their servers.

Beyond safety concerns, the software companies are using the Cloud to reduce dependence on retailers.  Cutting out the retailers allows them to absorb and keep that additional percentage, not that there is anything wrong with that.

The problem for me is the double or quintuple dip at the consumer’s expense.  Not only are they taking the distribution piece of the pie, but some are absolutely gouging us as businesses or consumers, if we choose them.   They aren’t using their growth to benefit the consumer.  Reducing distribution fees should allow companies to lower the cost to consumers and small businesses while increasing their profits. It’s a free world. They can run their business any way they want. We can all choose what we buy and don’t buy.

In most cases, you simply don’t need to be in the Cloud.   At this point, most of what’s out there is hype.  After the last several years of fallout from our government and some of our biggest corporations, I’m just not interested in having the Cloud rammed down my throat.   I’m a business owner myself. I have no problem with creating a profit by serving my audience with beneficial products and services.  The problem here is that second part.  I like the Cloud, though you probably wouldn’t think so from these articles.  It can fun, and sometimes even useful, it’s just NOT the second coming of the Internet.

 

***

Did you miss one in the series? 

When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly…

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

I would love for you to leave a comment below.

9 comments

When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly – Part 3 of 4

The Cloud is certainly hanging over us.  Most of the articles I read, talk about the Cloud’s amazing silver linings.  The marketplace is certainly doing its best to sing the praises of the tremendous benefits that rain from the Cloud.  There certainly are benefits.  I also see lots of reasons to bring along my umbrella. Sometimes the rain just leaves you soggy and smelly. Just ask your dog.

When is being in the Cloud not so heavenly? The third in a four part series…

How about when your massive, multinational provider gets hacked?
Sony's Playstation NetworkI should only need to say one phrase: Sony’s Playstation Network. The Playstation Network security team wants to forget 2011. The online gaming system took the headlines what… two, three, four times as hackers continued to immediately break into their databases and steal information.

The fact is that these “in the Cloud” software providers are simply far larger targets for hackers than my little small business.  In 2011, servers with your most sensitive information were even physically stolen off of secure trucks while being transferred from one “secure” location to another.

The reason you see so much commentary on how secure and safe your data is in the Cloud is BECAUSE IT IS NOT SAFE.  Sure, the providers have huge teams working on the best security and encryption technology available.  They just don’t always win in the war against hackers who have so much to gain by stealing the vast amount of data on those servers.

Do we use the Playstation Network? Nope.  But we do use Xbox Live.  Our day is probably coming.

The Cloud parade is going forward, rain or shine.  Make no mistake, you are going to be using the Cloud.  There are some benefits, even for us as the end user.   Frankly, you aren’t going to have much choice.  Just be sure to grab your slicker as you head out the door from your laptop, tablet and phone.

I’ll share more on this in my column next week.  I’d love to hear your positive and negative experiences from the Cloud. Share your comment below.

***

Did you miss one in the series?

When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly…

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

I would love for you to leave a comment below.

No comments

When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly – Part 2 of 4

 

The Cloud is certainly hanging over us.  Most of the articles I read, talk about the Cloud’s amazing silver linings.  The marketplace is certainly doing its best to sing the praises of the tremendous benefits that rain from the Cloud.  There certainly are benefits.  I also see lots of reasons to bring along my umbrella. Sometimes the rain just leaves you soggy and smelly. Just ask your dog.

When is being in the Cloud not so heavenly? The second of a four part series…

How about when it costs you 5, 10, or 25 times as much? 

AT&T - you know you love it

Example #1:  AT&T sees your interest in the Cloud as a profit center or at the very least, something that they need to reduce their costs on.  AT&T recently announced that the company is slowing unlimited data customers to a crawl when they hit an unknown unspecified monthly data usage level. So now unlimited data plans can be limited?  So now that you’ve moved your whole iTunes playlist into the Cloud, if you actually want to listen to it daily, AT&T wants you to upgrade to a more expensive data plan.  Of course when you signed up, you signed up for an unlimited data plan, so the obvious solution is to slow your speed down and hope you’ll just pony up for the higher cost.  I feel some Charlie Sheen craziness coming on: Winning!!

Example #2: Let’s take my experience with one of the leading contact management software suites: Act.   Act offers computer resident and Cloud-based versions of their software. I did a price comparison last year looking at Act’s computer resident software vs. Salesforce.com and Act’s own Cloud-based system.  Based on a three year timeline, the software that I’ve bought for $99 to $129 per person in total cost, moved into the Cloud for roughly $25/month/person as a I recall.  In trying to get the most up to date information today as I write this, Act has gotten very cryptic about their pricing.  Their site says, you can “buy” the Sage ACT! Connect software for $69.95, but it is says the service is “a subscription-based service” which means there is an ongoing fee.  I could not locate a complete fee structure today, and maybe they changed strategy from the “per person, per month” pricing, but they do have lots of brief and white paper content there to sell you on the benefits of the Cloud.

Salesforce.comLet’s look at the other option I considered.  As of today, Salesforce.com’s second tier from the bottom level is $15/person/month.  Over 3 years, basically the same software solution would cost my small business $540 per person!  Woe to me if I want something custom. I can get an Act consultant to customize things for me for $ probably $75-125/hour these days.   Salesforce.com’s customized software tier is going to run $125/person/month or $4,500 PER PERSON over 3 years!!  For five people, the choice I’m presented with is Act at a total cost of $500 (maybe with additional, new customization) vs. Salesforce at a total cost of $2,700 at tier 2, or with customization, $22,500 at their “most popular” Enterprise tier.

Keep in mind that we ARE talking apples to apples here.  Act may be Granny Smith and Salesforce may be McIntosh (tech pun intended,) but they are both apples. This isn’t hard: Act on the computer please!

As you can see, moving to the Cloud does have tremendous benefits… for the software creator: more revenue and more control.  They get to cut out retail distribution AND charge incredibly higher margin pricing. This must be where some of the “great minds” of the mortgage industry went.

On a side note, one of my gripes as a small business owner is how little benefit software companies like Sage, Intuit, Microsoft and other major vendors actually include in their “upgrades.”  Intuit forces you into their new software every two to three years by cutting off download and/or email functionality with virtually no additional benefit to the end user.  There hasn’t been a new function in Quickbooks for the last 3-5 years that I can actually recall having used.  Most of the time, they’ve changed something to make it less Intuit-ive not better. Why after 10, 25, or however many years, can I still not send a Statement to a customer from that customer’s listing in the Customer window?

When the Cloud-based software providers start gushing about the benefit of having all the latest new features of their software because it’s in the Cloud, I start seeing red rain.  We all know that the majority of “upgrades” are just to fix broken functions, incompatibility and security issues in the software in the first place.  That’s just the nature of the industry. New, truly useful functionality inside of existing software solutions seems rare.  Act works just fine on the computer.

The Cloud parade is going forward, rain or shine.  Make no mistake, you are going to be using the Cloud.  There are some benefits, even for us as the end user.   Frankly, you aren’t going to have much choice.  Just be sure to grab your slicker as you head out the door from your laptop, tablet and phone.

I’ll share more on this in my column next week.  I’d love to hear your positive and negative experiences from the Cloud. Share your comment below.

***

Did you miss one in the series?

When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly…

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

I would love for you to leave a comment below.

1 comment

WeReward App Pays You To Do What You Do

WeRewardWeReward has one-up’d the check in world.  Here’s another GREAT APP for Android.

I’ve used this app for over a year now. In that time, I redeemed $100+ and transferred it to my PayPal account, all for doing things I normally do.

The app allows you to access a list of businesses in your area at which you can earn points. For example, you can earn 25 points from participating vendors, which equals 25 cents, for checking into a certain restaurant, department store where you’ve bought something.  You can earn 10 points for checking in at other non-participating vendors. You will take a picture and upload it via your mobile device. You can search for businesses by subject or by name. I can use the app to locate participating businesses or I can just look up the business I’m at and check in. There are other ways to earn points as well, including Tasks, Surveys, and more.

I am truly getting paid for the shopping and other things I’m doing every day. Nothing like getting 25 cents back from every Chai Latte  I get from Starbucks. Can’t be that!

Starbucks, Target, most of the restaurants I eat at… I’m getting 25 cents back on every purchase.  I look up just about every place I go.  I got 10 cents for checking in at the Aliso Viejo City Hall!

 Of course businesses can run promotions through WeReward.

BTW – this is a FREE APP. Just head to the Android Market.

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When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly – Part 1 of 4

The Cloud is certainly hanging over us.  Most of the articles I read, talk about the Cloud’s amazing silver linings.  The marketplace is certainly doing its best to sing the praises of the tremendous benefits that rain from the Cloud.  There certainly are benefits.  I also see lots of reasons to bring along my umbrella. Sometimes the rain just leaves you soggy and smelly. Just ask your dog.

When is being in the Cloud not so heavenly? The first of a four part series…

HootsuiteHow about when your Cloud-based service provider goes down?
Let’s take my experience with Hootsuite vs. Tweetdeck.  These two programs provide essentially the same functions.  They both enable you to manage your social media within one place.  I was a major proponent of Tweetdeck, until Twitter bought it. The current version somehow lost my favorite features. Now we use Hootsuite.   Truly, the only major difference now is that Tweetdeck resides on your computer while Hootsuite resides in the Cloud.

When we first moved to Hootsuite quite awhile back , I quickly discovered that Tweetdeck never “went down.” I had always been able to open my Tweetdeck software on my computer and do my work. It never failed.  Hootsuite being in the Cloud could go down and be unreachable at any time which prevented me from using the hour that I had scheduled on my calendar in order to enter and schedule my posts for the next few days.  One of the major benefits of these software solutions is being able to schedule posts for the future: not so easy when the website in the Cloud is down.

Being in the Cloud adds an opportunity for instability into the mix.  Admittedly, Hootsuite and any other Cloud provider is aware of the fact that they need 110% “up” time, but as we all know, even companies who ONLY live in the Cloud don’t achieve 100% up time, just ask Twitter.   I like and use Hootsuite. It is the best solution at this point, even though I would love to see a few improvements.

The Cloud parade is going forward, rain or shine.  Make no mistake, you are going to be using the Cloud.  There are some benefits, even for us as the end user.   Frankly, you aren’t going to have much choice.  Just be sure to grab your slicker as you head out the door from your laptop, tablet and phone.

I’ll share more on this in my column next week.  I’d love to hear your positive and negative experiences from the Cloud.

***

Did you miss one in the series?

When Being in the Cloud Isn’t Heavenly…

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four

I would love for you to leave a comment below.

5 comments

ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is THE Killer App in Tablets

For those of us who are already comfortable and used to the PC world, and can’t live within the closed iPad/Apple world, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer is THE iPad alternative.

I had an iPad 1.0, and after a few weeks eBay’d it. I’m sure the 2.0 iPads fixed some of what made me want to throw it out the window, but the two things they aren’t likely to fix anytime soon are their overall Apple-approved-only philosophy and their lack of support for competitive product Flash.  So essentially, Apple frustrated me enough for Google to waltz in and make me love them with Android.

The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer runs on Google’s Android OS, which is especially helpful if you are using an Android phone like I am.  The tablet itself is arguably the #1 in its class, but that’s not what makes this the killer app.

What makes the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer the killer app?  The detachable keyboard dock.

To my knowledge, no other vendor has created a keyboard with an extended battery in it.  I have run my tablet for 20+ hours without running out of juice.  So while most Bluetooth keyboards run on batteries or drain power from your tablet battery, the Asus Transformer keyboard actually recharges your tablet as you use it.

Not only does this power capability rule the tablet world, but the keyboard dock also includes two standard USB ports. These are extra handy in attaching other devices.  The keyboard dock also adds an SD card slot for additional memory, above the mini card slot in the tablet itself.  I saw a memory configuration online that utilized the two USB ports and the two card slots resulting in more than 400GB for the device.  Not that most of us would need that, but it does show the versatility of the keyboard.

TIP:
This didn’t affect me, but if you have the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer and keyboard dock, there’s a chance that you’ve noticed the dock’s built-in battery draining quicker than it should.  If you’re unsure whether or not you have an affected unit, it’s quite easy to find out. Make sure that MobileDock Battery Savings Mode is enabled in the Settings menu under the Screen category. Once enabled, put the tablet into standby mode and press any button on the keyboard. If the tablet turns on as a result of the keypress, then you have a defective unit.  Read more about this tip from Android Police.

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DC Comics – Now on Android

As I hope you know by now, I serve on the Board for the Christian Comic Arts Society.  I’m also a big fan of what Google is doing with Android.  My smartphone is the Samsung Galaxy S and my tablet is the “best on the market,” Asus Eee Pad Transformer.

A few weeks ago, we were at the massive, annual Comic-Con International in San Diego.  The following week, DC Comics released their APP for Android.

DC is the biggest North American comics publisher. Renowned for what are considered the World’s Greatest Super Heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and more, DC publishes more than 80 comic format titles monthly and over 1,000 comic books and graphic novels annually, DC also presents different flavors of graphic storytelling through its diverse imprints.

With the official DC COMICS app, you can now download and enjoy DC’s comic books from their weekly offerings and from the vast classics library.

Powered by ComiXology, the app enables you to take advantage of their unique Guided View reading experience or enjoy the classic full page view. You can also manage and read your entire collection anytime from any digital location: you’re desk computer, laptop or mobile phone and tablet.

Read the full explanation about the app and some of it’s functionality over at ComiXology, which built it for DC.

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