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And on the 7th Day, the new phone arrived…

… And It Was Good! πŸ˜€

Wasn’t planning on adding a blog post here, I’m getting ready to move my site to a different hosting provider, and backed up all my content last weekend preparing for the move, but figured why not, I’ll just do another backup and be ready to go later.

My Motorola Triumph came in yesterday, a day later than the estimated arrival date I got from Amazon. No big deal, I know it’s an approximate date, but usually Amazon beats their approximate arrival date by a couple of days, can’t remember when something arrived late. (Had to laugh though, I was following the tracking info, and it started out about 9 hours from here, in Kentucky. By the end of the first day, it had gone further NORTH and was now 12 hours away. Go figure. Next day? It ended up in Charlotte, about 3 hours SOUTH of here. Finally got to Raleigh on the estimated delivery date, but too late to be delivered. So it got here the next day. Would have been faster for me to just drive up there and pick it up as far out of the way it went getting here, LOL.) But again, no big deal, didn’t have time to do anything with it yesterday anyway.

Opened up the package this AM, figuring I’d activate it before work, then tinker with it at lunch time. HA! Per the manual: “Step One: Install battery and charge.” Whoops. The Optimus V instructions actually said that THAT phone had enough charge to do the activation, THEN we were supposed to plug it in and charge it the rest of the way. Sort of figured the Motorola would be the same way. Guess not, huh.

So I left it charging for the day today, and after we got done with our TV watching binge for the night, sat down, got it activated via the website without a hitch. Then figured out the IP address of the phone so I could add it to my “approved” IP list on my home WiFi network, and got that working.

Then came the fun of all the updates and app downloading: First up, Silent Boot, to shut up that annoying Virgin Mobile boot up sound. Then did all the updates from the Android market of all the preinstalled apps. Added Remote Web Desktop (one of the few programs I’ve liked well enough to pay for, makes it easy to access my phone content on my PC.) Then went to install the Netflix app, only to remember that I’ve put my Netflix account on hold temporarily, so no streaming at home or on my pc or *sob* on my phone either. Wah. Reinstalled Thickbuttons, Barcode Scanner, was able to install Google Earth, Firefox, and Adobe Flash (none of which were Optimus V friendly)

Then downloaded the Amazon App Store (love it, an app to get more apps! LOL) and Amazon MP3. Tried to download Jenga, which crashed the Optimus every time I tried to install it on THAT phone, and it works on the Motorola. Sweet! πŸ˜€ Then started going through my list of Amazon Freebies of the Day that I’ve ordered each day they were free, and started downloading a select few of them (I’ve got 200+ that I’ve “ordered” but not all I want to put on the phone at any one time)

In no particular order (although I started from the back of the list to get Tweetcaster, so they’re kind of in reverse alphabetical order):

  • Tweetcaster Pro* (* apps are the paid versions that Amazon gave away on one of their giveaway days)
  • IMDB
  • Tune In Radio Pro*
  • Solitaire Megapack*
  • Random Mahjong Pro*
  • Pocketbooth (this worked on my old phone, but didn’t have a front camera on that one)
  • Plants vs Zombies (Maybe I’ll have room to keep this now!)*
  • Peggle (another WiFi only download, so gotta do it from home) (currently downloading)*
  • Gem Spinner 1 and 2*
  • Fruit Ninja
  • Fancy Widget Pro*
  • Convertr
  • Collapse!
  • Bonsai Blast
  • App 2 SD Pro*
  • Angry Birds Rio
  • Angry Birds Seasons (another one I had to delete due to space issues)
  • Abduction 2*
  • 180Ultra*

Not seeing Fireball Deluxe in my Amazon list, nor Apps Organizer (which I love to death, keeps all my zillion apps, well, organized, into categories), and must have gotten Apps Backup, Cool Reader and E-Reader, Get Glue, Zinio, QuickPic, ComicStrips, GhostTown elsewhere. And a MUST have before Friday night, the Fringe Glyph Translator, to convert all those funky images before the commercial breaks on Fringe into their respective 5 letter words. πŸ˜€

Man, but Peggle is taking forever to download, even on WiFi. As soon as I get that, I’m going to bed, and will download the rest of what I’m missing at lunch tomorrow.

Just ordered a new phone!

Yeah, I love my Optimus V, but there have been several things about it that I’ve not been too fond of. Namely that it’s not all that fast, the minimal onboard storage capacity (it’s sitting there with a “low storage” warning in my status bar as we speak), the fact that it won’t play flash, so I can’t even play back the videos on my own website, and the screen is pretty damn small, even when I wear my readers. Even using ThickButtons, typing on that thing is really tricky, my fingers hit the wrong keys on a fairly regular basis. Plus there have been a few apps that I’ve run into out there that I’ve REALLY wanted to put on the phone, but while they’re compatible with my version of the android OS, they’re just not compatible with just that phone.Β 

(And yes, I noticed that out of everything I’ve mentioned about the phone, in this and previous posts, about how it operates, one thing that never comes up is how it handles phone calls. LOL. But I almost never use it for that, which is why that Virgin Mobile $25/month unlimited text/data plan with just the 300 minutes is so perfect for me. Essentially, I treat it as a PDA, that just happens to be able to make calls when I need to, which is rarely – don’t think I’ve ever gone over 30 minutes in any given month since I’ve had it. So as long as it can make them when I need them to, it doesn’t need to do much else so far as its phone abilities go.)

So as a rule, it’s been acceptable phone. Gets the job done. And it was the best one that Virgin Mobile offered when I bought it earlier this year.Β 

Motorola Triumph Phone from Virgin Mobile

But THEN, I made the mistake of going to my Virgin Mobile account to update my credit card info last week, then peeking into their “phones and plans” area. Whoops! The Optimus V is not their best offering any more. Now they’ve got a Motorola Triumph. With a faster processor. And a much bigger storage capacity. And a bigger screen. AND it will play flash video. PLUS it’s got two cameras compared to just the one on the OV. AND a flash for the still camera, which OV doesn’t have. AND HD video that you can play back via an HDMI cable directly into your TV set. In short, it’s like the OV, on steroids.*insert Tim Allen Tool Time grunt here: ARGH ARGH ARGH!*

Reviews on it have been mixed, but it seems like if you get a good phone right out of the box (which seems to be a problem on occasion, some folks have gotten real lemons right from the manufacturer), people have been happy with it.

So after hemming and hawing for a week (and missing Best Buy’s sale on that very phone in the process), and doing my usual comparison shopping, helped by the handy dandy plug in for FireFox called Invisible Hand which pops up when you’re shopping for something to let you know if there’s a cheaper price online anywhere, I found myself at Amazon. Invisible Hand told me it was cheaper on eBay, but I tend to like the return policies better from a known company vs someone on ebay where you’re not sure who you’re buying from. Plus if I put it on my Amazon store card, I’ve got something like 4 months same as cash to pay it off. THOUGHT I could use the nearly $50 in reward points from my Visa card towards it, but since I wasn’t using the Visa to pay for it, apparently that’s not an option. So did the next best thing. Used the $30 gift card that my sister got me for my birthday in July, put THAT towards the phone instead, saving my rewards points for my birthday purchase when I make it. Amazon seemed happy with that. So I got $30 off, free shipping, and 4 months same as cash. Nice deal. Ordered it this afternoon.

And one other thing I like about Virgin Mobile… If you’ve got a phone plan with them, and they change their rates, as long as you keep your same phone plan, you get to keep it at the same rates. So apparently even though VM raised their $25/mo plan to $35/mo recently, even if I swap out my OV for the Triumph, I still get to keep my $25/month plan. Sweet. :)

Can’t wait for it to come in so I can play. Fortunately it’s still an Android phone, so the learning curve on it won’t be to steep. AND all the apps that I already have via Amazon’s app store and the Android App Market should work with it as well (including, hopefully, the ones that were supposed to work but just didn’t like the Optimus V. So we’ll see.

Fave Apps for the LG Optimus V Part Deux

Sometime back I did a post detailing some of my favorite apps for my new Android phone. Just realized I never went back as planned to do another post for my favorite games and other fun stuff.

So at long last, here is said post. :)

Games Icons

A Few Favorite Games:

Just recently had my SD storage card crash, so had to reformat and reinstall a lot of my apps. Which was okay, had a lot on there that really didn’t need to be there anymore, so it gave the card a good cleaning. The only game that I’ve not reinstalled that really SHOULD be on my list of favorite games is Plants vs Zombies. LOVE that game, have it on my PC, my NintendoDS, and when Amazon’s App Store gave it away as a freebie, downloaded it for the phone as well. Unfortunately though, while the game was able to be put on the SD card, apparently the saved game file was not, so when I reached the end of the game for the first time, the saved game file was huge, and ate up too much space on my phone, so I uninstalled the whole game.Β 

But these games are the ones I tent to go back to over and over again. They’re all fun, but I tend to play Angry Birds Rio, Fire Ball Deluxe, Gem Spinner, Peggle, and Fruit Ninja the most. All of which are either free games, or were given away by Amazon as freebies at one point or another.Β 

 

Newly Found “Useful Tools”:

Got quite a few of those. Apps Organizer is what set up my massive assortment of phone apps into the useful categories you see here. You decide what categories you want, and which apps go in them, and voila, a nice organized phone desktop. :) Still using the Amazon App Store for their freebies of the day. Droid of the Day is pretty good, it pops up and suggests a free app every day. App2SD Pro is one of those apps I tried as a freebie, liked, then Amazon gave away the paid version. Makes it easy to move apps from the phone to the SD card, something very handy with the Optimus’s limited storage space. App Backup saved my bacon when my SD card crashed. I’d backed up all the apps with that program, then when I moved the contents of my SD card to my PC to Useful Toolsreformat, I was able to reinstall most programs that I wanted from the backup I’d done. Converter is kind of handy, any kind of measurement you can think of that you might want to convert to some other format, it can probably handle. I order from AmazonUK a lot, and it does a fast conversion from dollars to pounds, among other things. Useful and free (I think it might have been a Droid of the Day app, actually). Also on the phone is Cool Reader and eReader. Handles various and sundry types of ebooks and documents. Fringe Glyph Translator is a purely fun app. If you watch Fringe on Friday nights, and you see all those funky symbols with the dots next to them at each commercial break, those actually DO spell something different each episode. Makes me want to go back and watch Seasons 1-3 to see what I missed in those codes.Β 

GetGlue is probably, especially with the new TV season starting, one of my most used apps. Make it easy to tweet about what I’m watching, listening to, and reading, and earn stickers in the process. Kind of addicting. The two apps in the bottom row on each end – Remote Web and WiFi File Explorer – are both essentially the same thing, they allow you to wireless connect the contents of your phone to your PC to transfer files, use your phone cam as a webcam, all sorts of stuff. It’s how I got the screen caps of my apps from my phone to my PC. I actually paid for Remote Web and had been using it for a while, until Amazon gave away WiFi File Explorer. Now I use them both until I decide which one I like better. :) The app in the bottom row second column is Shoot Me, which is supposed to only work on rooted phones, but works just fine on my unrooted Optimus. Run it in the background, if you want to screencap your screen, just shake the phone, and instant screencap. Yes, it’s what I used to screencap my apps. And last but not least on that screen is Tweetcaster. I’d mentioned before that the free version was my favorite Twitter app, well you guessed it, Amazon gave away the paid version as a freebie so now I’m running the full version and have never looked back.

MultimediaOther favorite apps are QuckPic, a replacement for the default Gallery. Comic Strips, a new one I just added that lets you collect and share some of your favorite comic strips from the paper, like Scary Gary and Argyle Sweater. GhostTown is essentially a music player that lets you search YouTube for videos, and plays them back as music. Kinda nifty. Roku Remote and WDTV Media Player are substitute remotes for, yes, my Roku box (currently used for streaming movies at Netflix and Amazon on Demand) and my Western Digital media player box, which lets you plug in a hard drive and play back almost any video type you can think of on your TV set. Great for all those series episodes that would take up too many DVDs to burn. Tune In Radio Pro is another paid app that Amazon gave away as a freebie. I’d been using the freebie version to pick up Internet radio stations, like the various BBC stations or formerly local CA stations like KFOG. The paid version is essentially the same, only it also includes a recorder if you want to save any of the radio station broadcasts. I use it a lot. And Zinio works in conjuction with the PC app to download either free or paid digital versions of magazines to either your phone or your PC hard drive. Once you’ve downloaded them, you can view them on either. Have only used it a few times so far, but it seems pretty well made.

Well, that be pretty much the majority of what apps I use fairly regularly. Given that Amazon gives away a freebie every day, I’ve got quite a list of apps still available to me that I’ve not actually installed yet, but they’re there if I need them.

 

Fave Apps for the LG Optimus V Part 1

Well, had my new phone, the LG Optimus V from Virgin Mobile, for about a month now, and I’m loving it. After having some issues with downloading new apps a few weeks back, I bit the bullet and went back to factory settings again to see if that would fix the problem. Nope. Turns out apparently something was clashing with some file on my SD card (I’d already swapped out the included 2GB card with the 4GB card that I had in my old phone but never really used, to give me some additional elbow room for the apps). Once I reformatted the SD card, everthing worked fine.

But then I had to go back and reinstall everything from scratch. I’d backed them up to the SD card, and then backed the SD card to my PC, but since I didn’t know which program/file on the card was causing the download issue, couldn’t just copy everything back over willy-nilly.

What’s good is that allowed me to make a list of all the “must have” apps that I put back on my phone.

So MY recommendations for what to get for one’s Android phone are:

Barcode Scanner: Haven’t used it much for comparison shopping, but the QR code reader is a must have in my book. Installed that first, to allow me to reacquire via the QR code on the Amazon site the

Amazon App Store. They have most of the same things that the Android Market does, but I’m really liking their Free App of the Day offering, so getting a lot of use out of that. Don’t always INSTALL everything they offer, but do order just about everything and if it’s something I don’t need right now, I just don’t install it yet. That way I still get it gratis, vs having to pay for it later on.

And along with the App Store, I also installed Amazon’s Cloud MP3 Player app. I LOVE that. Upload all my music to Amazon’s 5GB free cloud drive, then can access the same tunes on my phone without actually having to download them and take up precious phone space. Pretty slick.

Thick Buttons is another reinstall PDQ app. I’m having a HECK of time with typing tweets, or texts, or emails, with the preinstalled Android keyboard. Then discovered the ThickButtons keyboard, which depending on the word you’re typing, enlarges the size of the buttons that you’re using, so that the expected upcoming letters are easier to hit. Still type like I’m drunk while using it, but not nearly as badly as with the default keyboard. So yeah, loving that one.

After trying several different programs, Tweetcaster Free by Handmark has become my Twitter app of choice. I like the notification in the status bar when new tweets come in, I like that it can handle multiple Twitter accounts, AND much like Brizzly on my PC, has a “mute” type of feature, to hide tweets by anyone who happens to be temporarily overly chatty without UNfollowing them. Tweetcaster calls is “zipping”, and actually hides their tweets in the timeline behind an actual zipper graphic. Pretty handy. I’d almost be inclined to actually pay for the ad-free version, except that in their FAQ’s they mention a change between the free version vs the paid version that I don’t care for, the fact that it apparently just indicates that you have new tweets, but doesn’t tell you how many, which the free version does. Still looking into that.

Silent Boot is another must-have app to re-install ASAP. All it does, and it does it well, is turn off the irritating “Virgin Mobile!” audio announcement when you first turn on your phone. My old non-smart phone did that with a menu option, but apparently they’ve done away with that choice on the Optimus V. And for people who don’t tend to turn off their phones much, maybe the VM announcement isn’t any big deal, but I switch mine off pretty frequently so end up turning it back ON just as frequently, so hear it WAY too often. With Silent Boot, it’s gone. Yay! (word of warning, one reviewer said that it bricked their Samsung VM phone, so this may needΒ  to come with a warning, use at your own risk. Hasn’t hurt my phone at all though and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet when I turn my phone back on. :)

Stay tuned for my list of less imperative, but still must have apps in my book. IE the ones that are more fun than necessary, or ones that just make phone life a little easier with them installed. :)

Testing one…Two…Three

Will the WordPress app actually work this time?

REALLY lovin' my new phone!

Finally broke down, when Best Buy made me an offer I couldn’t refuse a few weekends back, and traded in my fairly basic Virgin Mobile phone for my first smart phone. Had really WANTED to get an iPhone, but the original plan was to wait until I was able to get one through Verizon instead of AT&T. Then when Verizon finally got it, I found that after paying $5/month for phone service, I just couldn’t justify paying $70 per month for the smart phone plan through them. Then just happened to go back to Virgin Mobile, and THEY were selling smart phones with $25/month phone plans with unlimited data/text/email, and 300 minutes a month. Now a lot of people can’t get by with 300 minutes a month, but since I primarily use my phone for “emergencies” (like “I’m at PetSmart, do we need more cat food?” or “I’m at CostCo, should I get more peanuts for the squirrels?”), I don’t see myself ever going over my allotted 300 minutes a month. More important was the unlimited internet, which I figured I’d definitely use more. And some of the features/apps that came with it, that I was used to carrying around separately – camera/camcorder, GPS, and all the apps that would take the place of my PDA – all tucked away inside one small unit. Figured it was all worth paying an extra $20/month, easily.

So ended up deciding to, at some point, get Virgin Mobile’s Optimus V phone, which – other than a battery that people said drained too quickly – was getting great reviews everywhere. Wasn’t planning on doing it right away, I’d just coughed up about $8000 for surgery in January, and figured I’d just wait until eventually someone had the phone on sale. Enter Best Buy, two weeks ago, with their “save $50” package deal: $20 off the phone, and $30 off the accessory pack (car charger, screen protector, and $25 top up card for the service). Couldn’t pass it buy, and stuck it on my Best Buy card so I could get the 90 days same as cash deal. They ended up shipping me the phone (which despite being backordered for “1-2 weeks” – the deal was selling so fast, the closest in-store phone I could find for pickup was 2 and a half hours away, in Kannapolis! – I got in about 3 days) and I picked up the accessories at the local BB store. Got it activated and swapped it for my old phone so I could keep all my old account info.

After 2 weeks, still haven’t quite tried all the apps that came preinstalled, and after googling for “Best Android Apps”, have also already raided the Android Market for a very nice selection of freebie apps and games to add to it.

Favorite app so far? Up until today, anyway, probably c:geo, the freebie geocaching app. I like to geocache, but didn’t do it much, mostly because of all the planning ahead I always seemed to need to do, from loading the coordinates onto my Garmin GPS, either loading the cache pages onto my PDA or printing them out, then having to lug the GPS, the PDA, my camera (for shots of the find), and any paperwork with me to the cache location. NOW? It’s literally ALL in my phone. The GPS finds where I am, the app gives me a list of the 20 closest caches to my location, the GPS gets me within about a meter or two of where the cache is, I either find it or don’t find it, use the camera to snap a pic if I do, then can use my phone to connect to the website and log in said success or failure. All done on the spot. Sweet! If I find myself geocaching a LOT with the phone, I’ll invest in the $10 official geocache app. But for now, still testing things out.

Have several apps that I’m testing out for things like Twitter, and texting, and my internet browser, jury is still out on all those, but definitely have LOTS of options for each!

Favorite Freebie games so far? I’d originally been all about Angry Birds, since I’d heard nothing but great things about it, but after trying it, and finding it to be very similar to an online Monty Python game which I’d found to be marginal, haven’t really played it much. Haven’t played a LOT of other games yet, but so far, the vote for best graphics and playability go to AI Factory Limited’s Reversi and Backgammon. I’m a sucker for computerized board games. :)

But the thing that really made me *squeee* over the new phone today? I found myself in somewhat unfamiliar terrain after driving to meet my boss to give him some cables that he was missing from his kit for a video shoot this afternoon, and thought “okay, what’s the best way to get home from here? Hey, let’s try the Navigation app!” So pulled over (SO not familiar with my phone buttons enough to find it while in motion), pulled up the app, was all set to type in my address, when I saw the option to SPEAK my address into the app instead. KEWL! Hadn’t tried that before. So hit the record button, spoke in my address, which it captured perfectly and immediately started squawking at me, telling me which way to go. I over-rode a few of the GPS decisions once I got closer to home and knew where I was, but on the whole, it got me home pretty well. But what was truly *squee*rific about the whole thing? As I’m pulling onto my street and it’s telling me that “your destination is on the left” I happen to glance down at it again as I’m pulling into the driveway, and the map was gone off the screen, replaced with a Google street view photo of my HOUSE! I just thought that was REALLY kewl! Talk about giving it the personal touch! πŸ˜€

But now I understand a recent article I read about people talking back to the voices in their GPSes. Doesn’t take much to get me talking to myself anyway, but put something in my car that actually talks to me, even if it’s just to give me directions, and I’ve got NO problem talking back to it, whether to tell it “No, we’re NOT going that way!” or just “hey, you got THAT one right!” πŸ˜€ Pretty funny.

Yeah, I’m definitely loving my new smart phone. An iPhone it isn’t, but I think it’ll keep me busy for a VERY long time anyway. Best upgrade I’ve treated myself to since buying my new PC last summer. :)

Look! Very scary! I’ve actually put Hello Kitty wallpaper on my phone already. Be afraid, be very afraid. πŸ˜€ And yes, there’s voicemail on my phone. But I don’t know how to access them yet, I used the voice mail so seldom on my old phone, I can’t remember my passcode to check it. Guess I’ll have to call VM sometime and get access to it again. LOL. No rush though. Nobody has my cell number, so it’s probably just junk or a wrong number or something…