Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Gadget Goodies 20 -- Taking Back Control 3

Image courtesy of Posterize /
How each of us use our devices matters.  Physical and mental conditions influence our preferences.  So do habits. And that's the real foundation of the Take Back Control series.  We learn to do things a certain way, based on the programming limitations of the systems we've used most. And our learning and our physical and mental attributes will make some ways of functioning easier and others seem harder.

Whatever it is, there's always going to be "discussion" about whose is bigger, or better, or badder.  Some of that is real, but a lot of that trash talk comes out of personal preference.  Which is why I always give reasons why I recommend what I do.  Even though those reasons may be important to me, they may not be to you.  And vice versa.  So, let's take a look at a few things. to tie up this subject.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sure, This Is Easy?!?

Proverbs 3:5 (KJV)  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
I thought it was time to have a little fun at my own expense.  Yesterday, I published a 14 day devotional as a Kindle ebook.  It’s called Days of Diamonds and it’s available, here:  That verse comes in very strongly toward the end of the process.  But it’s been an interesting journey.  Come on along.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gadget Goodies 19 – Taking Back Control 2

image courtesy of Wikipedia, Creative Commons license
Last time we hit some early device history to lay a foundation for the rest of our discussion on taking back control of our devices.  Not taking control back from the devices themselves, but from the limits put upon them by their creators and the whatever limits there are in the involved programming languages.

The picture to the left is a Kaypro II, my first computer.  With a 9" green screen and CP/M for the operating system, there wasn't any possibility of customization.  Since then, operating systems, computing hardware, and screen capabilities have grown far more sophisticated.  And a lot lighter and less expensive.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gadget Goodies 18 -- Taking Back Control 1

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Intel Free Press

There’s power in controlling the things that allow us a wide range of capabilities.  When we look at The screens and functioning of Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, it’s some company determining how we ought to do things.  It can be how we do things, some type of security, what we see when we look at a screen.  We’re not saying that a lot of what goes into those designs isn’t useful, doesn’t look good, isn’t a good way to do things.  And we’re not playing the radical, “down with the Man” card.  But the design ideas in most tech items are not perfect for everyone.  And those realizations set in motion several trains of thought, over a number of years.  And they cemented a way of thinking that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

To see what we mean, let's start with a bit of history.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gadget Goodies 17 -- The Maelstrom

If you watched the Google+ online presentation, last Wednesday, much of it was about the photographic tools that are now available.  Some are online, some are via app.  We'll discuss that and share our experiences.

While we're dealing with the Google+ photo experience, there's a related topic that will lead into it.  There have been some negative reviews of the camera on the latest Nexus 7.  We'll discuss that a bit.  But the picture to the left was taken with the Nexus 7.  More to come.

Last week, we announced a change to the blogs.  That announcement was in a post on the other blog. However, this is the place where we discuss our techie topics.  We wanted to go into more detail in our discussion.  We felt there was a need to explain the change and our experiences with it.  Since some of you are fellow bloggers, we thought that sharing our experiences might be instructive and helpful.  So, let's get rolling, beginning with our blog commenting system.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gadget Goodies 16 -- The Face of Your Device, Part 2

My first smartphone was a Cingular 8525, a 2006 Windows Mobile phone.  That was followed by a number of other devices, with varying OSes. Thanks to a device modding site, xda-developers, that I use to this day, there were a lot of not so stock devices in my hands.  When it recently came time to go with a no contract carrier, I got the Note 2 that I'd been craving.  Functional and attractive.  That got paired with a Nexus 7.

Every device has its own UI (launcher), based on the manufacturer's ideas on what users want.  The launcher is usually OK, but more limited than many of the third party launchers available.  We've looked at one of my favorite launchers, Aviate.  Today, we'll look at the other, Action Launcher Pro.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Gadget Goodies 15 -- The Face of Your Device, Part 1

The things I do are things that require a certain level of professionalism.  My phone and tablet are tools in my various endeavors.  Because of that, they not only have to cover a decent social life, but the various things I do as part of my church's volunteer staff, as a blogger, as a budding writer, etc.  We have screenshots from my Nexus tablet, clickable to display larger images.  And, yes, My Note 2 is laid out in much the same way so that both function very much the same.  There are two launchers that seem to work most like I do.  We'll look at both.  They're equally compelling.

This week, we're starting with a newcomer, Aviate.  It's not for everyone, but it's definitely a classy piece of software.  If you want something that lets you change your screen to a great work of art, based on your tweaks, you can stop reading now.  If you're looking for a launcher that, while not yet extremely customizable, still looks better than many screens I've seen, and both works with you and for you, keep reading.  Screenshots are from the original alpha version.  Cosmetically, changes are minimal in the beta that dropped yesterday.  [October 17, 2013, 10:32 --The review has now been revised several times, as I discover new features in Aviate.]

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Gadget Goodies 14 – The Search for Perfection

I’ve had several friends change devices because of finances.  Sell one, then buy a less expensive replacement.  At the same time, my finances have gotten tighter.  While I’m not ready to change what I’m using for other devices just yet,  there will definitely be replacements in the future.  Maybe sooner than expected, maybe later, depending on the need.  So, that started the hunt for the ideal set of devices, based on combining function with cost cutting.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Gadget Goodies 13 – Writing Geekery 2

Last week, we talked about some of the foundational underpinnings to writing technology.  We’ll talk some more about that.  Along with some additions.  The writer is, at the core a communicator.  That’s something that needs to be considered in the equation.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Gadget Goodies 12 – Writing Geekery 1

Today’s post came out of a series of explorations that came out of necessity.  The necessity was two sided.  I needed to earn some added income while not spending more to get to that point.  As a consistent blogger, it wasn’t too much of a leap to consider writing a book.  The choices to make it happen are becoming more and more interesting.  Take a look at what I mean.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gadget Goodies 11 -- Android Apps 3

This is the third post in a series about “must have”Android apps.  We’re using John Vincent’s list as our foundation.  I’ve added my thoughts to those.  You’ll note that, while he and I have some where we match, there are quite a few where we differ.  That’s not because my choices are better than his or his are better than mine.  We all have different ways of doing things and different preferences.  Our hope is that, by giving you both our preferences, we give you a solid foundation from which to explore if what we like is also best for you or to find something else that is.  So, let’s get back to our list.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Gadget Goodies 10 -- Android Apps 2

We only got to three of our Top 10 “go to” Android apps, last week.  There are a couple of instances where John’s list separated things I’d combine, as you’ll see.  So, let’s get going, again, with John’s #7.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gadget Goodies 9 -- Android Apps 1

A little business and then the fun.  The first item is about the feeds for RSS/Atom readers and email feeds.  There are several replacements for the Google Reader service, some even supplying their own reader app.  And there are other readers that have added the new sources.  That seems to be working well.  When the transition occurred, Feedburner seemed to handle the email portion without a hitch.  So, we’re not going to change that until it proves necessary.  In the meantime, we’ll explore other alternatives, to be ready, “just in case”.

As always, we’re learning.  As you probably already know, Amazon has It's own app store to supply the Kindle Fire line of tablets.  And, if you’re a Kindle Fire owner, it’s the only way to get apps, unless you learn how to root your tablet and sideload apps.  Amazon recently offered a bundle of productivity apps for free that made me wonder if their closed ecosystem extended to not being fully available on other Android devices.  As it turns out, it’s not closed that way.  And I added a couple of useful apps.  Which brings us to today’s tech subject – Android apps.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Gadget Goodies 8.5

We don't normally do Gadget Goodies posts twice in one week, but the impending disappearance of the Google Reader service, come Monday, makes any updates important .

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Gadget Goodies 8

As we’ve mentioned on our other blog, our church is having it’s annual international convention this week.  That, unofficially, kind of started last week with the early arrival of some of our missionaries and international pastors.  And some will stay a week or two after the conference.  So, I intend to be busy and have fun.

Despite that, the Google Reader service is going dark on July 1.  If you have email feeds from either of our blogs, we’re still trying to figure out how to deal with that.  The only reasonably priced service, so far, costs money.  Which is OK, except that, even with the clickable ads, we’re not making anything to pay for it.  We’ll see what happens.

For those who read our blog via RSS or Atom feed, I have several good possibilities.  Which you prefer depends on how you like your feeds.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gadget Goodies 7

It's been awhile since our last Gadget Goodies post.  We'll be doing them on a randomly rotating basis on Wednesdays, alternating with guest posts and videos.

Our first item isn't an app or a piece of hardware, but a website.  Some of you may already use it. It's  They define hack as any modification and their hacks range from modding a piece of Ikea furniture to repurpose it, to asking to travel on repositioning flights for a greater discount, to how to use Evernote to its fullest.  There are hardware and software hacks, too, to tweak them for maximum benefit.  Let me give you some more examples after the break.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Gadget Goodies 6

I thought it was time to revisit one of my “go to” apps.  Actually, I should probably call it a system.  Things have developed that far.  It’s about a month shy of two years since I originally wrote about Evernote.  I thought it was due for a revisit.  As you’ll see, I was right.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gadget Goodies 5

One of the advantages of not being a “professional” reviewer is that, if I miss something or find out something new, I can go back without being concerned about my reputation as a reviewer being tarnished.  We’ll be doing that, today, along with the new stuff.  Once again, it’ll be a fun ride, so strap on your seatbelts and let’s get going.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gadget Goodies 4

I’ve been getting back into using linux, after a number of years away. And the experience has been interesting.  It’s given me a few thoughts on some of the available distros and why some might be a nice alternative to Win8, etc.  And how it narrowed my Bible software choices.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gadget Goodies 3

Whether you’re in business, ministry, have a busy life, or just need a little help keeping it all together, “there’s an app for that”.  One of my favorites is a gem called Pocket Informant.  I discovered it when I was using a Windows Mobile smartphone.  I also used the Blackberry version on OS6 and OS7, and the Android version.  It presently is available for iOS (two versions) and Android.  I’m sure there are some things special to iOS, but I’ve never had an iPhone or iPad, so I can’t say anything about those.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gadget Goodies 2

Last time, we only got to two Bible apps, both multi-platform.  There are more worth considering.  There’s one that’s cross platform, then we’ll talk about some others that are available.  I should probably mention that I do not and have not owned any Apple products.  So, anything that has a version for those, as well, is being reviewed here using a Blackberry, Android, Windows, or Linux version.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Great Sequester

Sequester: Isolate or hide away (someone or something): "the artist sequestered himself in his studio for two years".  (


I repost some political things, from time to time, on social media.  And I usually try to share my thoughts and insights around election time.  Other than those, I usually avoid talking about politics.  But we’ve found ourselves in a government created disaster that needs some discussion.  So, here we go.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gadget Goodies

If you’ve been to our main site, you’re well aware that our focus is joyful Christianity and Leadership.  For awhile, we intermingled a few posts about tech things that assisted in those two areas.  That’s changed.  All the tech posts, along with anything else that doesn’t fit in Musings will be here.

It’s been awhile since we did much about resources to enhance our walk with God.  I was prodded in that direction by Ryan Bitters, who wrote a blog post about his top five Bible online resources.  I’m not going to duplicate his list.  You can read it at your convenience, here:  There are some excellent sites.  But I responded to Ryan that I did very little Bible reading or searching online.  Today, I’ll explain why and share a few of my resources.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I Am Who I Am, Who I Am

Who you are determines the way you see everything. You cannot separate your identity from your perspective. -- John Maxwell, The Maxwell Daily Reader, January 4th

That quote actually highlights two truths, not just one.  Regarding our identity, we really have two personalities and always will.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Time for a Change

You might notice some changes to the look and feel of the site.  We're experimenting, here with a new template.  The idea will be to update everything for a fresh look that will be more attractive.  Let us know what you think.