Tuesday, December 13, 2016

So you can save PDF's to Pocket!

I have been using Pocket (formerly "Read it Later" as my go to collecting app. If you are unfamiliar with Pocket, it acts as a vacuum cleaner, collecting all your web pages, documents and such that you want to read later is a wonderfully designed app. It is great for stripping away clutter from longer web pages you would like to read at a later date.

One of the challenges I have had is with PDF's. You can send PDF's to Pocket, however it is a little convoluted.

The caveats include:

  1. The PDF has to be hosted online.
  2. It may mangle images in the PDF.
  3. You need to go to this url and post the url of the PDF.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Google Keep versus Evernote

I'm in the process of ending my relationship with Evernote. I find it very difficult to view the changes to Evernote's model as anything other than a cynical money grab.

I used Evernote for years, most of those as a paid premium subscriber.

My main frustration with Evernote was the limit in the file structure. You had a stack then notebooks were placed in stacks. This two teired file structure was always an issue for me as there are some projects that simply require a greater degree of granuality for my use. I dealt with it and tried to make the system work for me.

The deal breaker became the decrease in Evernote's search function within the Android app. Starting about two years ago when I tried to search for notes within the Evernote Android app, regardless of what I was searching, the search would yeild zero results.

However when I conducted the same search on the Evernote website, I could find what it was that I was looking for.

During that time, I started relying on Google Keep for simple notes (like work related wifi passwords etc) and Google Drive for more complicated documents as the search function in Drive (and Keep for that matter) is far superior to my experience of Evernote on Android.

So for a few months I was in a holding pattern between the twe services. I have a couple of documents explaining how to convert my Evernote notes to several services including Google Drive and Google Keep. The precipitating incident was Evernote's price hike and series of limitations on current products.

So it is off to Drive and Keep land for me (as soon as I get a chance to work through those conversion instructions).

Interested in your experience of notes and file storage?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Android Pay live at Bendigo Bank!

I mentioned that I would notify you the moment Android Pay bevame live at Bendigo Bank in Australia as soon as it was available. How remiss of me as it has been available for about 6 weeks now. *Blush*

Um, er, so here it is! I have added all of my Bendigo Bank cards, my work based card from a smaller credit union bank, and a slew of loyalty program cards. This loyalty card program feature is quite nice (or intrusive  depending on your perspective) in that the app will notify me when I am in range of an establishment that I have a registered loyalty program card for. Handy feature, especially if one of them is for building and harware store (Mitre 10, I'm looking at you!).

So, whilst I have been leaving my wallet at home and Android Paying my way through my life (Banks, Apple fight to entrench their dominance in their customers lives) I'll just leave this here then.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Facebook Messenger eating your Android battery?

I use Facebook mainly for work. Not a huge fan of the social media platform, being an avid Twitter user myself. One of the things I dislike about Facebook on Android (apart from the crass way it dominates many aspects of your device) is the terrible wear on your battery. I find battery longevity is around 20% greater when I have Facebook Messenger installed on my Nexus 5X or Pixel. What to do?

I use Slim Social as the primary way in which I interact with Facebook on my Android devices (more on that next week) however for messaging, I discovered Disa. It is a reasonably simple app that surprise surprise, does messaging! You can use it for texting, WhatsApp and Facebook however I simply use it for Facebook at this stage.

It has a slightly clunky feel to it, however in terms of functionality, it does everything that Facebook Messenger does sans the drain on your battery. You do get the option to have it poll regularly but this comes with a battery drain warning which I appreciate.

It does the trick, doesn't impact upon my battery as much as regular Messenger and sits quietly in the background. Simple. Done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Tiny Scanner, a simple gem.

Simplicity itself. All I needed was an app that would a) allow me to take a photo of a document or use a preexisting image and b) create a pdf of the image and then c) allow me to append new photo's/images to the document. Icing on the cake would be the ability to alter the order of the pages in the pdf.

App after app all failing in one of the three aforementioned categories and then BOOM, Tiny Scanner.

The app has a small memory footprint, is (as far as I can tell) add/bug free and simplicity itself to use. If you need a way to quickly make your own pdf's out of your own images, with an append and/or page rearrange function, this is your baby.

I may even pay for it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pixel C Spilt Screen has arrived!

Guess what you are looking at? That's right! It is my SPLIT SCREEN Pixel C. I was on the train this morning and I was notified that my Pixel C's official Android 7.0 update was available. I accidentally hit ok and the download chewed through the last of my mobile data allowance for the month (roll on September 4!) and within 10 minutes, the Pixel had downloaded and installed the update, rebooted and then ran through the app udate process. I worked for the last 10 minutes of my morning train commute with Android 7.

I may be too much of a fanboy or 7.0 is smoother than 6.1. It seemed to transition between things more smoothly and the OS animations also seem smoother and snapier.

In the last 30 minutes, I have only played around with split screen, notifications (great improvement there) and editing the pull down settings bar (finally!). All in all, 7.0 had been a positive experience on my primary device. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Android Pay is here!

Android Pay has hit Australia's shores. You need to head into the Google Play store and "Enable" it (as oppossed to the usual "Install" button. My personal frustration is that it works with my buniness related bank, but not the bank I use personally, which is the Bendigo Bank.

A frustrating conversation with the Bendigo Bank helpdesk resulted in my finding out that it is "coming" but they could not give me any kind of source I could keep my eye on when it went live.

As soon as that happens, goodbye wallet!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

BubbleUPnP, my multimedia glue app.

These days I have all of my media needs sorted by two apps. Netflix and Google Play Movies & TV. However, occasionally there is a media need that falls between those two cracks.

I have a bunch of media that sits on a Synology drive at home and to access that media, I use BubbleUPnP. I have used this app since its very beginnings. It wasn't pretty early on, however over the years, it has matured to be an incredibly stable and "automagic" app that picks up the available drives on your network, and seamlessly presents them to you with the simplicity and efficiency of a Netflix and/or Google Movies & TV app.

Just want to make sure that you are aware that you need a media player in addition to the app, as its role is to locate and serve media, which it does brilliantly.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Google Now

When I think about what I will blog about here, I grab my phone or tablet and spend a few seconds thinking about the apps that I use on a regular basis that help me be productive.

Today, not only did I think about Google Now, but I also thought about how it is such a seemless part of my daily prooductivity routine that I almost did not realise that this was the case.

There is something about using an app like that, one that becomes so seamless, so much a part of the way in which you work and play that you don't realise that it has become part of your subconcious routines.

Weather, package tracking and delivery, travel, timetabling, right down to suggesting stories it grabs from the web based upon my search and reading habits, Google Now is very much a part of the way I work.

I was most delighted with a recent update to the app. I recently had an organisation book travel for me as part of my work, and Google Now took the flight information from the confirmation emails, added it to my Google calendar, and gave me timely reminders without my having to lift a digital finger.

If you are not using Google Now, give it a shot. It can feel a little intrusive, and sometimes I still get a pang along those lines, however dip into it and turn it on (you need to opt in to Google Now) and give it a whirl for a few months. See what you reckon.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Google Photo's is amazing!

I am not sure when it happened, but suddenly Google Photo's became amazing. If you are not aware, you can choose between two modes of file storage. You can choose to store your photo's at the same quality that you took them, OR if you choose the standard photo storage size, you get unlimited (yep you read that right) storage of your photo's in Google Drive. Forever. That's it. No catch. That is the hook that first got me started.

However, the app on Android and then the web site just seemed to make a rapid number of incremental changes until it is now one of the apps that I use frequently, and it is a joy.

I think that unless you are in the media industry and have a need for particularly large files sizes for your photo's, the standard setting (which is called "high quality") is really all the average photographer needs.

What is great about Google Photo's is, like most of Google's apps these days, it is available on iOS. I have helped two of my Apple totting friends with stuttering iPhone's take advantage of the feature that removes photo's from your iPhone once they have safely been backed up to Google Drive. The free space, improved performance, ease of use and the way that we can now collaborate on projects together seamlessley across the ecosystem divide have made them rubberneck by Nexus 5 at least one time a peice.

Get on it. Google Photo's is great.

Monday, January 18, 2016


I used to be a prolific journaller. Then I became a haphazard journaller. I vacillated between spurts of doing well and then feeling guilty about not being able to sustain the habit.

I then thought about what would happen if I journalled like I tweeted? I would tweet several times a day and seemed to be able to sustain that habit over a number of years. What if I "tweeted" some personal stuff to a journal? One line (or a couple) a day were better than nothing I thought? And suddenly I am a regular journaller again.

There are days where it will just be one line, and others where I make a substantial entry. It is an approach that works for me.

So I tried a number of apps and mechanisms. I was using Google Doc's for a while but I have eventually settled on is Journey. Despite the fact that I am not a big fan of the word "journey" to describe the experience of life (read: it is such an abused word it has almost become meaningless) it is still a handy little app that you might want to check out for your journalling purposes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Time for an upgrade!

So it was time to upgrade. I traded in my old Nexus 10 and 9 and then scrounged another couple of hundred bucks and here I am writing this blog post from my new Pixel C, complete with keyboard.

This is what Google should have done years ago, taken control of the design and construction of their own hardware.

It is solid, beautiful to look at and of course having total control over the hardware and software means that this thing actually sings.

I can see me leaving the laptop at home more often now.

Google News Redux