Absent Minded

So the last picture post here was supposed to go to my photo blog. Apparently, my dumb-ass forgot I changed some passwords a while back so it stopped updating. To make matters worse, when I updated it, I forgot how I had setup the transfer and ended up creating a new IFTTT1 applet.

When I originally setup the photo blog there wasn’t a direct way to import my photos from IG to WordPress. I had to create a work-around that sent the pic from IG to Tumblr then to WordPress. It was a bit messy but it worked pretty well. Best of all, it was automated. Well, all of the API’s have been updated since then apparently. There are multiple applets in IFTTT that allow you to import directly. My IFTTT account has my blog settings not my photo blog so when I “reconnected”, I connected it to the wrong site. hehehe Not the end of the world mind you. I just thought it was funny.

It’s all fixed now. I still need to go back and manually import all the pics that got skipped but it’s all automated again. Yay!

In other tech fails, I installed Chromium on an old laptop and for some reason, the CD drive will not re-install windows. Granted it’s an old copy but it should work. The BIOS settings are all good and the drive is functioning so I’m leaning toward blaming the install disc.  It crashes after loading the software and drivers to install and I get the blue screen of death.  I’m not too upset as I hate Windows 10. It’s clunky, ugly, and just not user friendly. It tries and fails to be a universal OS between desktop and mobile. I’m thinking of just installing Linux. I don’t use the laptop that often, but Chromium is still just a wee bit too simple for my needs. If I could just port Android it would be fine.2  Since it wasn’t ‘designed’ to run Android or Chromium both versions are modified ports, courtesy of 3rd-party vendors. Said vendors aren’t really in a position to provide support. Anyway, first world problems.

 




  1. If This Then That []
  2. I used to run Android thru Bluestacks when I had windows installed and I loved it. []

Settings

I’m gonna geek out a bit today. If you’re an Android user like me and have upgraded to Marshmallow, you really should take some time to tweak your app permissions. With the 6.0 release, you now have the ability to turn on/off individual permissions by app. This has been one of my biggest frustrations with Android. Many apps are great and do wonderful things, but frankly they often do not need all the permissions they ask for at installation. Like, at all! And the down side of some apps having too many permissions is they eat away at your battery life. I’m definitely in the heavy user category and while I get good battery life on my Moto X, eliminating apps that waste the battery make it that much better. Of course, the developer might feel different but as an end user, I should have some say in that. Thanks to Google+, now I do.

In the past, it was all or nothing. If you really wanted an app, your only choice was to install it with all the permissions intact. If you were on a rooted device, you had options, but most people never root their phones for a variety of good reasons. Your left with deploying a task manager which basically acts on your behalf routinely killing annoyingly persistent apps in the background. An effective, albeit cumbersome fix. If you’re a power user like me and often need to really wring every ounce of juice out of single charge, being able to throttle juice hungry apps is a welcome change.

And if you’re already lost, any app you install needs permissions to access parts of the OS or hardware on your device. When you download the app, you get a list of the permissions it wants prior to installation. This is necessary in an open OS like Android. Obviously, a selfie app like Snapchat would need access to your camera to function properly. You would grant it permission at installation to access your camera. However, it also has access to my phone dialer, which it absolutely does not need. The unfortunate problem is many developers abuse this function or get over-zealous. You also have apps from 3rd party sites that use this to gain access to your device to perform nefarious things, like take pictures, send text messages, or make phone calls, etc w/o your permission.

With Marshmallow, you can now tweak the permissions once you’ve installed an app. For example, the Facebook app is notorious for being a battery hog. It constantly does pings, location checks, etc. Now you can change some of the settings to prevent it from being a hog. FB Messenger is another particularly annoying system abuser. It is by far my most hated app. I personally will never give FB my contacts or let it run my phone/texts so I disabled these. I also disabled access to location so it isn’t constantly pinging my location. All of this uses my cell connection eating up battery life. I’ve noticed a 15% jump just from tweaking this two very annoying apps.

To be clear, the apps are still requesting the data or access; however, the OS sends it null (generic or empty)) data to keep the app running properly. This negates any drain on the hardware and is a brilliant work around to a growing problem w/app developers. It effectively puts them on notice to keep it simple or face being checked by Google+.

You don’t need to be an expert but you do need a basic understanding of what you’re doing. Like I said, if you kill an app’s access to a function it needs, it won’t work or perform properly. The good news here is if you break it, you can fix it by re-enabling the permission in the app! Not every app will need tweaked. If your goal is better battery life, check out your usage stats to see which apps are the most egregious. Go into your apps manager in the settings, scroll to the offensive app, tap it, then tap permissions and disable the ones you don’t want it abusing. Done!

Ad

I have a dirty confession to make. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there but seeing so much of it these days, I just felt the need to fess up.

I’m not an ad-clicker. There I said it. I never click on in-app advertisements. I find them a waste of time, rarely if ever, related to my tastes. We hear constantly how ad placement is driven by user meta data and seems to be the ‘golden chalice’ of all the big players out there. I’ve never once clicked on an online ad to buy a product. 

Don’t get me wrong, I see the point but until it gets to a level where the ads are truly relevant to me then I’ll most likely never be an ad-clicker. Using my search results is rarely helpful. Google+ often gets the closest out of them all. I wouldn’t click on a Facebook ad if you paid me. The problem, for me anyway, is the few items I actually search out on the Web are lost in random queries I do all the time. While this might help target ads to me a tiny bit better, it’s like pouring a barrel of food on my plate and then me finding one item out of all of it that I will eat.

IMO companies are too greedy in trying to put ads in front of my eyes. The email lists, the hard sells, the device cookies, are all an attempt to get ads in front of your face. It is pointless to me because it’s just a brute force attack. The moment you click on an ad or go to a referral link, then the real bombardment begins. If you aren’t using a disposable email, you’re in for a real treat. hehehe

Some developers make their living off the ads they push into apps to keep them free. I get it. And for some apps, it’s the only way to go. But for more popular or heavily integrated apps, not having a paid, ad-free version is a deterrent, at least for me.

I don’t mind having sites or companies track my habits, likes, dislikes, etc. Tracking my habits w/o trying to tie it specifically to me as a person is the way to go if you want me to click. IMO this is why Google+ will continue to dominate the ad market. They are pushing heavy into this and less on specifically targeting you vs your online presence. If companies really want to find the ‘sweet spot’, they need to continue tweaking their ability to be very specific without constantly trying to bombard me with any and every ad possible. Then, and only then, will I ever consider clicking on ads.

Vs

I’ve mentioned a few times I am a multi-OS household. My laptop is PC, my smartphone is Android, and my tablet is Apple.

My rant today is about the respective app stores. They are certainly NOT created equal and I am not overly happy with the iOS market. If like me, you use both OS’s you’ll understand what I mean about the ecosystems being very different. On the Apple side, you see less free apps and more paid apps. On the Android side, you have a variety of both but often have a choice of a free (ad-supported) version vs a paid (ad-free) version. Both have their pros and cons.

For me, I prefer the Android ecosystem hands down. Primarily because there are many more demo versions of software I like/use. If I like it, I can pay for the full version. Or at the very least, if I purchase a paid only app, at least I can get a no hassle refund.

On the Apple side, there are far fewer demo or free apps. That wouldn’t bother me so much if they offered a convenient refund option like Android. While Apple does have a refund option, it is overly cumbersome and not always guaranteed. I’ve been thru 5 refund requests now and only 2 were refunded. On Android, I have 15 mins to test a paid app, if I don’t like it or it doesn’t function properly I can uninstall for a full refund. It’s all automatic, no grief, no hassle.

I can also dispel the myth that paid apps on Apple are better quality than many of the same “free” apps on Android. While it may sometimes be true, it is certainly not a guarantee. Four of the five apps mentioned above were because of functionality problems. While Apple has the advantage on the consistency of hardware specifications being the same, all apps are not created equal. I’ve found plenty that don’t work as advertised or are just poorly designed. Add that into the refund policy above, and you begin to see some mounting frustration. At least on the Android side, I have an easier time trying apps until I find one that works and/or that I like.

It is no secret I am a bigger fan of Android as an OS but Apple is still the leader in hardware and design when it comes to tablets. The iPad is beautifully designed, fully functional, versatile, and has an exceptional battery life. I love mine and am very happy with it overall.1 That said, Android hardware developers are fast catching up and I’d bet money within a year, you’ll see Android based tablets that are on par with the iPad. Either way, I wish Apple would climb down off their high-horse just a bit and take some cues from Android on how to make their user experience more enjoyable.




  1. Considering it was free, I ain’t bitching that hard! lol []

Current

I’ve been using Google+ Currents a lot lately for my news addiction. I quite like it. It works much like a desktop application in that the formatting is much smoother. It is very easy on the eyes as it has a very simple clean interface. It works on Android or Apple1 and on phones or tablets.

The one down side is there is currently not way to sort or file your feeds into folders or groups. Everything gets it’s own little tab on the splash screen. While that is nice for a few sites, when you have well over 100 news/blog feeds like I do, that gets cluttered pretty quickly. It also makes getting from feed to feed cumbersome. You can add sites from their predefined list, any rss feed of choice, or you can sync with your existing Google+ RSS feed.

If you’re looking for a mobile RSS reader, I highly recommend it albeit the caveat above. Best of all, it’s free with no ads!




  1. being a mutli-OS househould has it’s challenges at times. []