Tag Archive for: Android

Cutting the Cable: Part 1– Rough Start

19 Jun 2014
June 19, 2014

After reviewing our recent cable TV bills, the wife and I decided perhaps we don’t watch enough TV each month to rationalize that expense. Sure, we have a couple shows we like to watch at any given moment but we never actually watch them when aired. We always get caught up later. We’re young, we’re hip. We’re going to cut the cable.

I did a bit of research (not enough, as it turns out!) and decided we would start on the cheap and see how things go. Off to Amazon I went and purchased a Chromecast, a mid-range HD antenna and then I signed up for the 30 day Amazon Prime trial to get access to their TV shows and movies. I figured I’d compare that to the Netflix streaming account that we already have.

The antenna and Chromecast showed up yesterday. Let the grand experiment begin!

First, I plugged in the antenna to our main HD TV, went into the TV’s menus and set the source to “antenna” and told it to scan. It gets about halfway through the scan (around 28 channels found) and the TV reboots, saving nothing. Hmmph. Tried again (and again) with same results. Factory reset the TV, tried again. Same results.

Out of curiosity, I disconnected the antenna and ran a scan which made it through to the end – no channels found, of course, but no TV reboot. Tried the antenna on a couple other HD TVs in the house. No problem on those. But our main TV (admittedly, a pretty inexpensive Dynex unit) just hates something it gets from that antenna.

Finally worked around that by setting the TV source to “cable” and running another scan. That finished without disaster, but only turned up 6 channels, as opposed to the 58 channels I found on the other TVs. Oh well, one of those is the main news / weather channel that we watch so we’re good enough for now. Perhaps I’ll pick up another antenna this weekend just to see if anything changes.

Next I setup the Chromecast and installed the associated app on my Android tablet. Fired up Netflix and was ‘casting a show in no time at all. Slick!  Worked great for YouTube and Google Music as well. At this point I’m pleasantly blown away by how well this works.

OK, now to try out an Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Product DetailsFirst I belatedly realized there’s no native Android or IOS app for that. None. Then I realized most work-arounds or hacks are pretty kludgy or useless. And then I finally realized that the only way that Prime Instant Video thing was going to be useful is if I get a Amazon Fire TV (which is a contender for future purchase) or a Kindle Fire tablet.

For now I reckon we’ll use Hulu+ or purchase episodes or seasons from the Google Video store. We’ll run this way for a few weeks and see how it goes. Main concern being around the convenience factor (or lack thereof) of staring all TV shows from our tablets. That Amazon Fire TV or rumored new Android TV might be contenders yet this summer… Stay tuned.


LastPass on Android Now Logs Into Mobile Apps

28 Mar 2014
March 28, 2014

Best new feature ever. This makes LastPass so much easier to use on the tablet.

(This is a link post — click the title of this article to get to the article it references).

Need More Power

20 Feb 2012
February 20, 2012

dead_batteryThis weekend we had a bit of a family emergency and found ourselves driving  90 minutes north to find a hospital as quickly as possible. While en route we were using our smart phones for typical smart phone stuff: texting, calling, researching on the web and GPS. The phones did all that just fine.

Once we got to the hospital our phones got more use. More phone calls, more texting and some light web research.

We left the hospital (everyone was discharged and OK, thankfully!) and headed south to find the lot where a wrecked car was deposited. More phone calls, more GPS and…

Out of battery.

5 hours of steady use (not non-stop though) and both of our phones were dead. Crap!

I know there are folks out there who use their phones WAY more than I do. How are they solving battery issues? I often carry an extra charger with me to get a charge in the car but forgot it in all of the excitement when we left… What other options should I explore to be better prepared next time?

External battery-based charge packs? I remember some fun projects back in the day with AA’s and an altoid case. Solar? Good intentions?

Seriously, in this era of short battery life, what’s an effective approach?

OneNote for Android!

07 Feb 2012
February 7, 2012

onenotelogoHere’s my favorite headline of the day:

OneNote Mobile for Android is now available worldwide

Heck yeah! Or should I say, “About time?” Regardless, I’m pretty excited. This is something I’d been waiting on for a long time.

We migrated to Office 365 at work last fall and shortly after that I moved all my OneNote notebooks to our hosted SharePoint server. Sadly, this Android app (same for iPhone version as well) only syncs to SkyDrive… So tonight I spent some time moving all my notebooks back to SkyDrive.

Side note: I wasn’t in love with keeping my OneNote notebooks on hosted SharePoint. In fact, it was rather annoying with the daily password prompts… but we try to eat our own dog food, so to speak, so it was worth doing. And I’m glad to have my OneNotes back to SkyDrive.

Now, not only do I have my OneNote notebooks synchronized to all of my PCs – and web access – but now I also have direct access from my Android smart phone. Holy grail! It runs great on the phone too. Very responsive.

The feature summary is interesting — and I’ll confess I haven’t figured out how to do all this stuff yet:

  • Text formatting, images, and bulleted lists
  • To-do lists with clickable checkboxes
  • Quick photo capture with your phone’s camera
  • Quick access to recent notes
  • Store and access multiple OneNote notebooks
  • Sync to your free SkyDrive account for access anywhere
  • Offline access to your notes
  • Option to sync notebooks only over a Wi-Fi connection
  • Built-in spelling checker
  • Support for external hyperlinks
  • Table editing

Free to play, but once you go past 500 notes there’s a one-time fee of $4.99. Or don’t pay the fee and have read-only access to all your stuff from your phone.

I’ve only had it installed and synchronized to my phone for 3 hours, so the jury is still out on how this will fit in “productivity world” long term, but I’m very bull’ish on it. Anyone else using it and want to share thoughts?