Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Day in the Life with Android (Part 1)

[Updated: December 29, 2012; see below under "Apps/Swype keyboard."]

If you read my September 21 blog post, then you know that a few months ago I purchased a Google Nexus 7 tablet (built by ASUS).

I haven't been very active on this blog since that purchase, and when I'm not working on book projects1 to pay the bills, I'm probably attached in some fashion (my wife would probably say "umbilically") to the Nexus 7.

My goal is to be able to perform all work-related activities on the N7. A lot of that ability is dependent on the quality and performance of the apps that I use. I'll install an app that will work perfectly, and then after the next update (and some apps are updated often, even daily at times), possibly the app won't even open on the N7. It's the nature of Android: developers attempting to make their apps compatible with dozens (hundreds?) of devices, running various levels of the Android operating system (OS), and from a multitude of manufacturers.

My N7 has the latest (and not always greatest) "Jelly Bean" (JB) OS, version 4.2.1. That point-1 update occurred just last month, and since then the device's Bluetooth functionality has been erratic. This is a known issue. Unfortunately for me, Bluetooth capability is critical to my end goal.


1. When I need to do some serious input, I use the Logitech 920-003390 Tablet Keyboard for Android 3.0 Plus and the Targus Bluetooth Comfort Laser Mouse AMB09US. The keyboard is full-size with an excellent "feel," and the case flips open to serve as a stand for the tablet.

But when the N7's Bluetooth keeps dropping the keyboard (re: see above known issue), well, not a lot of serious work gets done. The tab's onscreen "Swype" keyboard (more on this in a bit) is fairly fast, but still error prone, and I also have a tendency to fat-finger the screen -- so a keyboard is a necessity.

2. To avoid the onscreen fat-finger effect, I often use the amPen New Hybrid Stylus. I would be lost without this stylus at times (especially playing the CrossMe Color game!) and it is compatible with all capacitive touch screens. The stylus has a plastic anchor that fits in the audio headphone jack on the N7 so you never have to worry about setting the stylus down and then forgetting where you set it.

3. And lastly (for now): When I end up in an AC outlet-deprived environment and the N7's battery is running low, I have the IOGEAR GMP10K GearPower Ultra Capacity Mobile Power Station -- great for powering a phone and tab simultaneously.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A "True Review" of Alien Contact

Alien ContactWhispers in the night... quiet words spoken amidst the rampaging hordes of vampires, werewolves, zombies... and superheroes.

Only a few of us, now, speak -- albeit resolutely -- of our Alien Contact experience. Of the stories therein, and their impact on our collective psyches, our thoughts, our visions of what is, what could be....

Recently, another spark of light has emerged from the darkness to wield its mighty words in approbation of this tome of some of the best stories from the past 30 or so years: 'zine True Review, edited by Andrew Andrews, reviews Alien Contact in its current issue (No. 82, Vol.25, Oct. 2012).

The review is brief, considering that the anthology contains 26 stories, but recognition in any size or shape is always welcome. The review highlights 10 of the stories; here's what Andrew had to say about Neil Gaiman's "How to Talk to Girls at Parties":
Two London blokes find out about a party coming to town like no other, with beautiful women who seem, well, kind of odd. But the guys want one thing only: to get to know the girls with perhaps some extended "benefits." Everything goes as planned until the dudes realize THESE women aren't of this world.

And Ursula K. Le Guin's "The First Contact with the Gorgonids":
Jerry and Annie Laurie Debree, tourists from a plastics conference in Australia, make it to Grong Crossing, one of the most unlikely places for humans to make first contact with aliens. But for these arrogant and ignorant tourists, fame will come, whether they like it or not.

For more of the review, please check out True Review.