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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. 

(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. 

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. 

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. 

 

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. 

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.

 

Of Bluebirds, Tivo, & John Barrowman

Noticed that I wasn’t getting a whole lot of hits on the blog recently, and it occurred to me that maybe it was because I hadn’t posted anything new since April 28th or so. 😀 So a few updates to some prior posts to remedy that. You can do a search on some of the main terms to see the original posts on each one.

THE BLUEBIRD EGGS:

Bluebird Eggs And then there WEREN’T five. Apparently those five bluebird eggs were defective. Last weekend we checked the nest, which was supposed to have hatched by then, and there were only four eggs left in the nest, and none had hatched yet. We were told to wait another week or so, and then if they hadn’t hatched by then, to get rid of them and the nest, clean out the box, and let the bluebirds start over. Took a peek today. ALL the eggs were gone, and Ma and Pa bluebird had already started building a NEW nest over the top of the old one. So apparently they figured out that the eggs weren’t going to hatch, cleaned house all by themselves, and are starting over again. So we may still have baby birdies to watch yet. Yay.

THE WHOLE TIVO SITUATION:

Aaaaand, it’s OUT OF HERE! The wireless N adapter that I bought at Amazon arrived Friday afternoon, so I figured I’d take a couple of hours on Sunday to get the Tivo up and running. HAH! After banging my head against a wall with the thing for FIVE hours on Sunday, 3 of which involved another online chat on the laptop with their tech support folks (you know you’re in a bad spot when even the guy at Tivo technical support is at a loss as to why the adapter – which connected to the network just fine, but refused to connect to the Tivo box – refused to connect), I said enough of this crappydoodle stuff, and we decided to ditch the Tivo and just call Time Warner to have them set us up with digital cable and one of their cable box/DVR combos.

As much as I hate getting beaten by anything electronic, which almost never happens, I’m not all that heartbroken about getting beaten by a dinky little Tivo adapter. Didn’t want Tivo in the first place, and between coughing up $300 for the box, another $100 for the adapter, and $100+ for a years worth of service, I’m more than happy to send everything back, get my $500 back, and let Time Warner, who we’ve been happy with 99% of the time handle our DVR needs for a while.

So packaged up the wireless adapter and printed out the postage paid return label from Amazon, that will go back out in the mail tomorrow. Boxed up all the Tivo cables and connectors and will be bringing THAT back to Best Buy tomorrow. And called Tivo proper last night, and got the $120+ credited back and the account canceled (Had to laugh, when he pulled up my account to see my tech support info, he’s all “You’ve got 12 PAGES of chat here from yesterday!” And I’m all “Tell me about it!”). DID find out something of interest though, assuming the customer support guy wasn’t just feeding me a line. Apparently Best Buy was selling first generation Tivo boxes, and with most first generation things, there are bugs. And the wireless N adapters are pretty new (the only two local sellers selling Tivo wireless adapters were Best Buy and CompUSA, and both were still only selling G, not N). And apparently, one of the bugs in the first gen boxes is that they don’t tend to like those newfangled wireless N adapters. So had I bought a Tivo box from someone else, I probably wouldn’t have had a problem. And for my trouble, since I was taking the Tivo box back to Best Buy anyway, Tivo would sell me a box direct, for $100 off the price. I told them thank you but no thanks, I already had the appointment for Tuesday with the cable company.

Which I did. When I called THEM Monday at lunch, they were actually able to schedule an installation for between 5-7pm tonight. The guy came before 5:30, and was done in less than an hour. And now we’ve got a DVR that will record two different channels at once, and more channels than we know what to do with (I’ve FINALLY got BBC America! Yay! And while I’m not ready to jump into watching the new Doctor Who quite yet – never seen a Dr. Who ep in my LIFE – they actually had a Doctor Who Primer episode on at 10am tonight, which will hopefully give me an idea of whether I want to waste time trying to get up to speed on the show or not.) Alas, we’ve already had a scheduling conflict with having the new channels now. Already had both DVR tuners and my RAM disc recorder programmed for the main three networks tonight at 10pm, what’s a girl to DO? Why, pull up Doctor Who in the onscreen programming guide and see if the episode is going to be airing again at a later time. Why yes, yes it is! 1am tonight. Selected it from the list, hit record, and whambam, it’s programmed. Just that easy. Tivo WHO? 😀

I will say though, in comparison to the customer “support” that I received from Philips when I contacted THEM for help, despite the fact that the whole Tivo thing didn’t work out, the Tivo customer support was actually pretty impressive, IMHO. So they get some points for that.

JOHN BARROWMAN:

Just a webpage update, if you Barrowfans haven’t found it yet without a blogpost to point the way. 😉 After not being included in the Desperate Housewives episode LAST week (which was a good thing, since locally, the whole first half of the show was pre-empted due to tornado activity in our viewing area), JB’s 3rd episode aired Sunday night, so I finally added his 2nd and 3rd DH episode clips to the site.

The clips can be found here, as usual. Enjoy, all you Johnettes and Barrowboys! 😉

Danny: “Heeey, double cappuccino, extra hot. Need anything else?”
Patrick: “Inspiration.”
Danny: “Sorry, we just have muffins…” 😀

Patrick: “…I’ve had an exhausting couple of days, what with searching your house looking for firearms, and running over Dudley Douche-bag…”

A smidge perturbed at the TV networks…

What IS it with some of these networks? Well, I know what they’re trying to do, stop the piracy of their TV shows so they don’t lose syndication and/or DVD revenues later, I’m sure.

But we were trying to get caught up on some earlier programming that we recorded this week on the DVR (Castle, Justified, & Parenthood), and figured we’d go ahead and record tonight’s shows (Flash Forward and Supernatural) on the RAM disc on our other recorder, a VCR/DVD burner combo.

So set the RAM disc to record ABC on digital 11.1, hit record, nothing happened. Tried again. Nothing. Got right up to the unit, and hit the record button on the front of the machine. STILL nada. So switched the TV over to the recorder channel so I could see any onscreen messages, and hit it again. Onscreen message? “Cannot Record”. ABC is apparently playing their “anti-piracy” game again, when they somehow flag the signal that they send out that while it can be recorded once on a DVR, you can’t burn that resulting recording to DVD. Nor, apparently, can you record it to a RAM disc – which is what we use instead of the VHS tapes on the other recorder, since we get a much better picture with the digital channels vs the analog channels on VHS tape. We just record, delete, and reuse, just like a tape, only better quality. Unless the networks flag it, then the disc just will not record. >:( *grrr* So to get Flash Forward recorded, I had to switch over to analog channel 9 and record it that way. Not my first choice, but since analog ABC isn’t too bad to watch, I ran with it.

Would you believe I ran into the same thing with the CW at 9, when I tried to record Supernatural on digital 22.1? Ugh! So I switched over to analog channel 2, prepared to record from that channel instead, but the picture on analog CW has been just borked since the digital transition, awful reception. So rather than record it at that quality, we ditched Justified, which we were about 10 minutes into, and switched over to 22.1 on the DVR and watched Supernatural live (relatively speaking, the show was all about zombies and the not quite live tonight. LOL).

But that whole thing about the networks setting up signals to just plain NOT record like that really irks me. Usually it’s a non-issue, we record to DVR usually anyway which works fine, and just watch then delete the show. But to be forced to record and watch a show in crappy analog, when we’ve got equipment perfectly capable of recording it in digital (which looks even worse played back on our hd set), just because the network is afraid that we’ll put it on disc and sell it or something just bugs the hell out of me. And it’s not just ABC and the CW either, CBS does it too – the night the local CBS affiliate aired all of its Thursday and Friday night programming back to back in the wee hours of Saturday morning due to local basketball games they aired during prime time *ptthhtt*, every single one of those was set to “record once” as well. Worked on the DVR, but had I tried to record them to RAM disc, we would have lost the whole lot of them. And forget about duping any to DVD-R disc, not that I’d planned to anyway.

Grrr. Hate trying to second guess what the networks are going to do to make sure it’s something we’re able to record to the RAM disc. And if it IS something I’m thinking I’m going to want transfer over to DVD and hang onto, I’ll usually record it analog to backup VHS tape, JUST in case they switch that “no duping” flag onto their broadcast, I can at least burn it from VHS to DVD and save it that way. The picture isn’t as good, but it gets the job done.

Grumble. Stupid networks.

Philips Electronics Customer Support STINKETHS!

Now I think I know why Philips doesn’t bother to include any sort of remote adjustment so that people who own multiple Philips units won’t have problems with one remote trying to control the wrong unit… I’m guessing that people who buy one Philips unit never actually BUY a second one. Grrr. The Philips DVDR that I have was my first ever Philips purchase, and you guessed it, it WILL be my last.

Ask them for technical assistance due to the DVR picking up stray remote control signals from another house in the neighborhood, and first they send me to the PDF owner’s guide on their website (the one that I told them in my first email that I’d already READ before I emailed them), and then since the unit was out of warranty, to look in the Yellow Pages for a service center. For a unit that isn’t actually BROKEN, just needs to be set to some sort of other IR frequency. (Something that Panasonic units have done for years; fixed it when we had two Panasonic units at home, and we have three Panasonic DVD burners at the office, all sitting on the same shelf, all with their own remotes, and given that they’re programmed with three different remote control numbers, NEVER have a problem with any cross-remote control issues. Cannot believe that a company like Philips couldn’t pull off a simple fix like that. Doh!)

But I’d have been less irked at them had they first NOT just passed the buck when it came to support. If they know their units cannot have the remotes tweaked like that, they should have just said so. And then when I emailed them back to get at least a simple yes or no answer, my 2 follow up emails were completely ignored.

Then when I tried to send a fresh email to them last night, their entire email support area was broken. >:(

Yep, that’s some SWELL customer “support” they’ve got going there. *pththththt*

I DID manage to find a website, AllExperts.com, who have knowledgeable volunteers answering questions on every imaginable subject, and I found someone to ask in their Audio/Video/Stereo section. Gave him all the info, and within two days they got back to me. Wasn’t all that happy with the answer, they didn’t know of any way to tweak the remote settings like I was able to do with the Panasonics. But they DID suggest once we had something programmed that we didn’t want to lose due to the stray IR signals coming in, to slap on some thick black tape over the IR port on the front of unit and see if that didn’t block the unwanted IR changes from coming in and screwing up the recording.

So giving that a go this weekend. One advantage of working for a video company, there are always multiple roles of thick black gaffer tape lying around so I borrowed one from the office today. And tonight, reset the clock on the unit again (I’d reset it again last night, but during the day the interlopers from outside changed it again), then after we got done watching one of the shows on the HDD, used the gaffer tape to tape a square of cardboard over the IR port. Figured that rather than putting the tape right on the unit, this way if we need to move it, all we have to do is loosen the bottom tape, and flip the whole thing up and out of the way like a door, then tape it back down when we’re done.

At last check the time was still correct. Will see what channel it’s on when we get up in the morning. If it’s Disney or Golf or MTV we’ll know that gaffer tape and cardboard combination didn’t work.

What a pain. We may end up switching to digital cable sooner than we planned (if we were going to switch, it would have been in September, when our two year price lock deal expired), if for no other reason than to get one of Time Warner’s DVRs and then we can get rid of our now completely unreliable, completely unsupported Philips DVR.

EDIT – the next day – Found the DVR with the wrong time and sitting on the golf channel again. :( Before I give up and admit that the unit might actually be broken, I slapped another few layers of gaffer tape on it, and ran it across the whole display area instead of just in front of the IR port, in case stray signals are sneaking in from the side. We’ll see if THAT works. Think we may be in the market for a new DVR though.