proof )

[Image: Garnet from Steven Universe wagging her finger, from SO1E52, "Jail Break"]

how to with free Windows software )
I've just reset SteelyKid's old Nook HD+ tablet. You may have heard me bitch about it, so I can't say it's been a good device, but it does run apps from the Google Play store; does anyone want it? I'll ship it wherever.

(If I get multiple requests by, oh, Tuesday night, I'll ask the RNG.)
I have two Moto G phones, one bought in the UK (locked to Vodafone UK, but you can get unlock codes on eBay for trivial amounts of money) and one bought in the US on Verizon (which is apparently unlockable for free?). I want to give them away for free!

. . . of course, they're both broken. But they're broken in easily-fixable ways!

Specifically, they both need new screen/digitizers. I broke the glass on the US not once but twice, leading to this. And I tried transplanting the screen/digitizer on the UK one but I broke the cable running from the digitizer to the motherboard because I'm clumsy.

The US one still works even though the glass is a disaster, and the UK one was fine until I went messing with it. Both have been factory reset.

You can get the screen/digitizer unit for about forty bucks. Of course, the whole phone was $80 on Verizon here in the US, which is why I didn't bother to replace the US one, but if you're on a tight budget or you want parts for a science experiment or whatever, one or both of them are yours; I'll ship anywhere.
No, not Readercon; my ancient extremely-dumb phone (picture).

I'd been doing pay-as-you for voice and texts, since most of my life is in spaces with WiFi and I didn't feel the need for a monthly payment. But then I refilled my account and realized that I was spending about $20/month as our text messaging use increased, so it would only be another $25/month for Verizon's no-contract plan with a hundred-buck phone. And the prospect of never having to do a text message by cycling through all the button presses, let alone the security of Internet access more places, well.

So: the low-end 3G Moto G, because it's for backup stuff, checking email in emergencies and getting directions, and not streaming media. It fits nicely in my hand [*], though the grippy sides of this cheap case plus belt holster are welcome, and it runs stock Android and basically does what I need it to without fuss.

Here are some apps I've found useful specifically for the phone:

Widgetsoid (with donate add-on). This does two things: (1) it lets me toggle certain things directly from the lock screen (I use it for WiFi, mobile data, Bluetooth, and ringer status) and (2) on a home screen, it lets me fit more stuff in the same space—I have seven app shortcuts or toggles in a 4x1 widget on my main screen, for instance. (The donate version lets you save widgets to edit them, among other things.)

DashClock with DashClock Gmail+ Extension and DashClock SMS viewer [**]. This lets me see multiple things on the same lock screen: the number of new GMail messages (plus the subject and sender name if there's only one new message; I thought it was supposed to show that if there was more than one, but apparently that's a potential feature not an actual one); new text messages with their text; plus time, weather, and my next calender appointment within a certain time. There are default lock screen widgets for GMail and messaging, but they're on separate screens, and if I'm stopped at a red light, it's nice to get everything in one place.

(There are a million extensions for DashClock, but skip the toggle ones: all of them require unlocking the phone, not just the app-launch ones like in Widgetsoid.)

Moon Reader. Syncs reading position across devices with Dropbox, very customizable. The Pro version has more fonts and things, and I bought it to support the developer, but I don't actually depend on any of the pro features, I think.

[*] But though I loathe the idea, I can definitely see that when my Nexus 7 dies, I'm probably replacing it and this phone with a bigger-screened phone. I like the size of this, being able to fit it into pockets and hold it very comfortably, but the convenience of a single device is hard to beat. I already gave away my beloved Sony eInk reader, because I was hardly using it with the tablet always to hand, and I can definitely see the same fate coming for the phone+tablet combo.

[**] Before you download it, you'll probably need to go into Settings/Security and check "Unknown sources."

What about you? What handy little apps or tricks have you found for your Android smartphone?

Edit: I forgot, Verizon gave me a free Bluetooth car speakerphone, which works fine, though I don't use my phone in the car enough to bother with buying one for myself.

I've been meaning to write up my new tablet, the Nexus 7, since shortly after I got it for Christmas. I'm bumping it up the queue now because at Lunacon I said that I think it ought to be the default for someone who wants an electronic device to read books on. There are sound reasons you might want E Ink, but absent those I think people should go for the general-purpose tablet rather than a Nook or Kindle device.

This is, as far as I'm aware, the 7" tablet with the best hardware out there. The screen is gorgeous, it's fast and responsive, and it runs the latest version of Android (which automatically updates). I love the built-in swipe typing, which is practically magic, and the N7 in portrait orientation is just the right width to make that really comfortable. The only minor flaw is that its camera is front-facing, meant for Skype etc. (which I haven't had occasion to try yet), and so it's very difficult to use for anything else. I've taken it on a couple of trips now as a netbook substitute (with a Bluetooth keyboard), and it's been great; the only ordinary things it hasn't been able to do are a few things in WordPress.

As for reading, here's why I think it actually should be the default choice for that purpose: the available apps mean that you can get books from anywhere and extensively customize your reading experience; together with the screen, that means the N7 can be very versatile, simple, and comfortable to read with.

more detail )

Great Big List o' Apps )

Final notes:

I like this cover (don't get this one, it started coming apart after a month), this Bluetooth keyboard (picked because it was in Staples when I needed one and had comfortable keys, unlike the Microsoft keyboard also there), and this travel charger (though it does not play nice with my Sony ereader, unlike the included N7 charger).

The manual fails to tell you the critical piece of information that you can paste text into an empty text field by a long press on that field.

If you're moving files onto the N7 by plugging the USB cable into your computer, the N7 has to be awake and not in the lock screen to start.

I was going to do a screenshot of my home page, but I would have had to fuzz out so much it wasn't worth it. I have: a Weather Channel widget with the forecast; GMail and Google Calendar widgets showing my inbox and schedule for the next few days; three Remember the Milk widgets (one showing current/upcoming stuff, one showing (sigh) overdue stuff, one linking straight to my shopping list); and a whole lot of folders for apps.

What else would you like to know?

Digression regarding Calibre Companion )

So I'm buying a new desktop PC because the one I'm using now is sad and slow. What's the general configuration of a lower-middle-end machine these days? I would like it to be able to convert video files from one format to another or run casual games like the Mystery Case Files series without having to close down every other program, but I don't need to do complex video editing or high-end gaming or anything like that.

In Windows XP, I could arrange my start menu so that if I named a frequently-used program something with a unique starting letter, I could hit the Windows key to bring up the start menu, and then hit that unique starting letter to open the program.

Can I do this in Windows 7 with a setting change or separate program? The default is that typing while the start menu is open creates a search, which is annoying and reduces the number of things I can do with keyboard only.


Dec. 3rd, 2009 09:51 pm

Last time I looked, it seemed like Samsung was making the best all-around machines, in terms of keyboard size, battery life, and weight. That still the case? And is Windows 7 an actual advance for netbooks, or should I stick with XP for operating system consistency?

It appears that the reason I had such a hard time finding an S-video to component converter is that the resulting picture is absolute crap.

(I was hooking my old laptop up to the TV and wanted an arrangement of cables that allowed me to have the laptop and the DVD player connected simultaneously. Now I'll just have to swap out the audio cables when we watch DVDs, which is rare these days between the DVR and SteelyKid. And yes, I am quite sure what connections I have usefully available, thank you very much. (None of the equipment in question is new or even new-ish.))

And since I have spent more time doing that than I should considering SteelyKid's cold (she's getting better, but the past few nights have been very short on sleep), g'night, everybody.

I have just used the dead-simple remote access program TeamViewer and the anti-malware program from Malwarebytes to, I hope, eradicate the nasty Personal Antivirus from my mother's computer, and TeamViewer in particular is going to be the Best Thing Ever now that I am my mother's tech support. I highly recommend it.

(I say "I hope" because the computer needed a reboot and I told her that she should go on with her grocery shopping as planned, so I can't see the results until she gets back home.)

But speaking of tech support, does anyone have any idea why her Windows XP machine won't automatically reconnect to a network drive? Dad set up her backups to an Iomega networked external hard drive, and the thing refuses to reconnect when she restarts her computer even though it's been told to save the username & password and automatically reconnect or whatever, which leads to the failure of backups and much aggravation. Frankly I'm thinking that I will just move the external hdd to be directly connected to her computer, since there's no need for it to be networked any more—it has a USB port, I assume I can do that—but in the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions, I'd appreciate it.

When I came home tonight I dropped my iPod on the floor. After refusing to play, it displays a red "X" when I try to reset it or get it into disk mode per the online support instructions. So I suspect I have wrecked the hard drive, again.

(I think this is the third one. Maybe the fourth.)

I should really get a Flash-based player, because, obviously, carrying around a small hard drive is just always going to end badly for a klutz like me. But Chad has way more music than would fit on any currently-available one (even if they weren't so much more expensive), and every so often I go through the songs of his that I haven't rated yet and find stuff I know and/or like, and I never listen to music except when away from my computer, and I like the ability to watch video too, and and and . . . Like I said, packrat tendencies.

I console myself with the truth that this is a very First World problem to have.

Anyway. Have any of you successfully overcome a tendency to break portable hard drives? Any cases you'd recommend? I use a Contour Showcase, but if anything is actually going to help when I drop the thing while the drive is spinning, obviously it'd be worth it.

Remember our DSL problem of a couple of weeks ago?

Chad fixed the polarity this morning—line tester all nice and green—and unfortunately the modem's still all blinky and not connecting.

I think at this point the answer is, "call Verizon," but if anyone has other suggestions, go ahead.

ETA: it appears that the wires of the new jack were reversed. We'll see if fixing that helps . . . Thanks, all.

Read more... )

Chad's new desk for the family room/office/library was delivered today, and we're contemplating how to best arrange all his equipment cables in a way that will be as aesthetically pleasing and safe as possible. The end goal is something like this or this, but as you can see from the pictures behind the cut, the underside of the desk is visible through the window, so I'm not quite sure the best way to attack this problem . . .

pictures )

I am not particularly crazy about the idea of drilling into the nice new wood desk, or of having a cord basket/power strip visible from outside, but there may be no alternatives. Also, I'd prefer stuff I can pick up locally, i.e., from Staples/Office Max/Best Buy, not Ikea.

Anyone out there tackle similar problems or have suggestions?

Music notes

Apr. 1st, 2008 08:35 pm

Only one of my very short lyrics hasn't been guessed, and it was in retrospect not a good one, so I've updated the post with a full line.

Chad's posted a two-word lyrics quiz.

And today's candidate for Best Thing Ever: the iTunes Lyrics Importer automatically imports lyrics into iTunes from Lyricwiki (Windows). It's like magic.

(Oooh, and then I can use the script here to see what songs didn't get lyrics automatically imported, and do them by hand if I want! The Internet is awesome.)

  • 25% off accessories at the Palm store.
  • New hardcover omnibus of Barry Hughart's Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox forthcoming from Subterraenean Press.

    (If you just want to read the first draft of Bridge of Birds (narrated by a nineteen-year-old Master Li!), it's available from this fan site.)

  1. I moved a bunch of LJs from my "friends" list to an RSS reader yesterday, because I was having trouble keeping up with my reading page.
  2. What an amazing pain it is getting two XP and one Vista computer to see each other's shared folders. This should not be difficult! (But it's done and I feel all accomplished now.)

This weekend I installed a Belkin N Wireless Router (F5D8233-4). (Our old router required rebooting every eight hours of running BitTorrent, which was tedious.) It's working fine for Chad, who's directly plugged into it through an Ethernet cable, but I'm experiencing annoying wireless connection disruptions.

Specifically, connecting to the Internet starts timing out; I click on Windows XP's little Wireless Network Connection Status icon, and in the resulting dialog box I see the name for the network flickering off and on (the name itself), and the speed jumping between 54.0 Mbps to 1.0 Mbps. Clicking "repair" fixes this, for a while, or sometimes it comes back on its own; in two hours this has happened at least six times, while I did nothing other than surf the web.

I pretty much installed this with the defaults, except for enabling encryption (128bit WEP) and setting up a forwarded port for torrenting. We have DSL, so PPPoE, but since Chad's having no problems I doubt the problem's on that end. My laptop has b/g wireless; the router also supports the draft n standard, because Chad's new tablet does. The user manual is not helpful. Does anyone have any suggestions of what settings to futz with or other troubleshooting to do?


Nov. 20th, 2007 10:35 pm

Because I just know you were all waiting breathlessly for my verdict on Amazon's Kindle e-book reader:

If I had stupid money, I'd get a Cybook instead. [*]

Since I don't have stupid money, I'll stick with my Palm TX, which functions just fine as an e-book reader except in bright sunlight, which is not that often an issue (though if a Cybook showed up my doorstep for free, I wouldn't send it back). Speaking of which, from now until Monday Palm is selling the TX for $200 with a wireless keyboard thrown in, which is so cheap that I'm tempted to buy a spare against the likely day that Palm stops making standalone PDAs.

I love my TX and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who's looking for an organizer, e-book reader, game player, etc., but who doesn't need a smartphone. On the other hand, when this TX eventually dies, I may have other options: Nokia is releasing a Palm OS emulator, and the Nokia N810 looks very cool: bigger screen! Built-in keyboard! GPS! Anyone got one of these, or played with one?

(Because, you know, what I really need is to be gathering information on a tech toy that I neither need nor should have . . . )

[*] References )

I had a bit of excitement, last week, when I turned my computer on . . . and found it caught in an endless reboot cycle because it couldn't load the OS. Fortunately, I had 1) the bootable CD that came with the computer, 2) the sure and certain knowledge that all of my data was backed up, and 3) relaxation techniques to keep me from wrecking my shoulders, jaw, and stomach while I determined that it was a software, not hardware, problem (some file in the boot sector had gotten corrupted).

Back up your data!

We bought an exercise bike a week ago. It uses magnets for resistance and so is remarkably quiet. So far, so good; I'm going to have to be very diligent about my stretches (hip bursitis), but otherwise no complaints. Oh, and very diligent about keeping the foolish dog away from it: I clonked her good right on the flat of her nose with the pedal, the first time I was pedaling away.


  • My Neighbor Totoro is a charming, odd, low-key, family movie that deserves the label. I recommend it. Also, have some icons.
  • We saw Amos Lee, Elvis Costello, and Bob Dylan in concert last night.

    Unfortunately we missed all but the last couple of Lee's songs, but he was quite good and got a satisfyingly warm reception from the crowd. He closed with his best-known song, "Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight," and I think he may have played "Shout Out Loud" too, which you can hear at his website.

    Costello was doing the very solo thing, him and a guitar. He came out and banged right into "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes," and did several songs before doing any stage patter at all. Good stuff, very energetic and entertaining, also notably smooth at getting the audience to sing without explicitly asking for it.

    Dylan was touring with a band. I am not terribly familiar with his music, especially his recent stuff, so I can sum up my reaction in eight words: I like my pop music to have words.

    Seriously, except for the occasional line, he might as well have been singing in Swedish. And I know he's capable of enunciating, because he did do it once in a while, and because he was great when we saw him in 1999. I ended up zoning out for much of the set, trying to relax in the uncomfortable seats. Fortunately, I was fully awakened by the last song, "All Along the Watchtower" Hendrix-style.

    For the perspective of a Dylan fan, see Chad's report.

  • Episode 51 of Bleach has an amazing number of characters and not much forward movement. (It was on Adult Swim while I was doing stretches after the concert.)


  • Donate $30 to DonorsChoose and buy Chad's blog.
  • Someone came to my booklog and put "i am searching for a spell to reverse timeto july29,2007" (sic) into the "search" box.
  • Neighborhood fauna spotted recently: a fox, fireflies, bats, and frantically-active squirrels.
  • Useful LJ bookmarklets, including one that will change pages to your style—even ones in "format=light".
  • del.icio.us is my new obsession. I'm planning to use it for con report roundups, and to that end, added this year's Boskone links as a trial run. Any comments on the tagging or anything else? (Chad suggested tagging by panelist as well, but I'm uncertain about that; people often don't show or are added at the last minute, and not all panel reports will reflect that. However, if people would really like it, it can be done.)

    (Also, for the auto-posting, I need to hide the tag lists with CSS or otherwise format them so they don't overwhelm the links (see what I mean?).)

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