Springingtiger's Blog


Upgrade Downer
December 21, 2013, 22:48
Filed under: social media, success, Technology | Tags: , , , , , ,

The problem with mobile phone contracts is that the cutting edge smartphone with which one started the contract, is a frustrating antique by the end. However once eighteen months or two years have passed, comes the blissful day when, at last one may upgrade. I have at last reached that blissful day and have, in my hand, a beautiful new Samsung Galaxy S4.

When I moved from Nokia to the Galaxy S2, I had to spend some considerable time setting up the phone to suit me. However moving5 from one Android phone to another was almost effortless; logging in with my Google account allowed me to move my photos, contacts and most of my apps straight to my new phone. I say, “most of my apps” because there were some notable exceptions like Facebook, Snapseed and Drive. On the whole the process was easy.

What really annoys me about Samsung is that they take much of the joy out of getting a new phone by trying to dictate to their customers. Samsung insist on cluttering their good phones with useless apps. One does not have to choose to use the apps provided, but one cannot choose to replace them. Because Samsung makes no provision for the uninstallation of its garbage, one finds one’s phone’s storage, for which one has paid dearly, in effect stolen. One of my reasons for using Linux, rather than Microsoft, on my laptop is that I prefer to use only the applications I need and choose; I resent having other people imposing inappropriate choices on me. I would not mind Samsung putting apps on their handsets if I could remove those I dont want, as it is, I am inclined to make this my last Samsung. I had considered as a possible choice this time a Google Nexus 5, but my network EE don’t carry it, so in two years I shall probably be looking both for a different handset manufacturer and network. It is a shame because Samsung makes great phones, then spoils them with bloatware; I have been happy with EE, but if I cannot find the phone I want I may be compelled to change. Ideally by the end of this contract Samsung will have bucked up their ideas and I will be able to continue to use their handsets on a network I like.



The Best Gadget Ever

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I have owned many gadgets over the years, they litter my kitchen cupboard and my attic. Several of them have been useful; the Swivel Sweeper, Tobi Steamer and Magic Bullet are all television purchases I don’t regret. My favourite gadget at the moment is probably my Google Nexus 7, but what, I wonder is my favourite gadget,  the one in my life of which I think most fondly and why?

On reflection my favourite gadget is neither the most sophisticated,  versatile, nor most expensive watchamathingy I’ve ever possessed, but it hold happy memories. Many years ago, when I was at school my grandmother bought me a pocket sized Hitachi transistor radio. Back in the mid sixties it was cutting edge although it was only mono. She always sailed back from India via the Suez Canal and used to stop off in Aden to buy presents, and it was a good place to buy things from the east. I loved that little radio; it had great reception and I could carry it with me everywhere. Back then radios were not generally small. Our radio at home plugged into the mains, took time to warm up and illuminated the room. I remember the dial allowed me to tune into radio stations like the Home Service and the Light Programme or more exotic  stations such as Athlone, Hilversum and Luxembourg. Ah, Radio Luxembourg! It was just what my little transistor radio needed, I spent many happy hours after “lights out” in the dormitory listening to Jimmy Saville’s “Under The Bedclothes Club” and later Kid Jensen. It was on that little transistor I first listened to Radio Caroline, later it heard the dawn of Radio One, I think it eventually died not long after the birth of Radio Clyde. It did its job well for years and I loved it.

I think that my little radio captures what I look for in a gadget. It was easy to use, just two dials. It did its job well, I have been disappointed by many gadgets that promised much, but delivered little. I loved that I could have music everywhere, I later loved the Walkman and have been using a Classic iPod (5G) since before they gave it the name “Classic” and now I have my Nexus 7. However nothing will displace that little Hitachi in my affections, While nothing can beat simplicity and functionality, I do enjoy miniaturisation snd multi-functionality as well. I have several multi tools, including one with a pair of secateurs in it.The Swiss Army Knife is a classic and I  like their Card. One of my favourite gadgets, and one I always carry with me is a credit card sized piece of steel that has within its design a can opener, bottle opener, screwdriver, ruler, wrench,  knife and saw blades, so small, so simple and so very useful. 

I have learned over the years that the best gadgets aren’t necessarily the expensive ones, or even the most technically advanced. The best gadgets are the ones I use and are ready to use when I need them.



Happy Hudl (a non-geek point of view)
October 19, 2013, 23:26
Filed under: social media, success | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Neelam has a Hudl. For a few years she has been using an iPad for Ambulance Service business and has been thinking about buying her own tablet. I recently got a Nexus 7 for my birthday, no sooner had I got my hands on it than Tesco released the Hudl. The Hudl has been very well reviewed by computer magazines. The specs look good and the price of only £119.00 is very good.

The Hudl may be half the price of the Nexus 7,  but it is not half the tablet. I am very impressed by the Hudl.  It does take a little longer to start than my Nexus,  but it is not appreciably slower in use. The screen does not have as high a definition as the Nexus,  but I find it perfectly sharp enough. My Nexus may have a larger memory,  but the Hudl has a micro SDHC slot. Hudl’s operating system is Android Jelly Bean so anyone familiar with Android can just pick it up and use it; those unfamiliar with Android may take a few minutes longer. The Hudl is a pleasure to use.

I love my Google Nexus 7,  however had I had the choice I may well have bought the Hudl instead.  The Nexus may be the better tablet,  but the Hudl is as good a tablet as anyone could need. In terms of value I cannot see how the Hudl can be bettered, particularly when Club Card users can buy it using their Club Card coupons on a two for one offer that effectively makes the price £60.00. I do not regret buying the Nexus,  but it makes me realise just how good the Hudl is. I like the Hudl,  I like the Hudl a lot.



I Love My Nexus 7!
October 1, 2013, 21:57
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

For my sixtieth birthday Neelam’s mother and sisters gave me money for a new Google Nexus 7. I had to wait for a couple of weeks until the tablet was released,  even then I did not rush out to buy one. I wondered whether to buy the 34Gb with LTE or without.  I knew that as I am going to use it for watching films,  and as it has no SD card slot I needed the maximum storage. I checked on the Android forums (that really should be fora) and decided that I would be able to tether the Nexus 7 to my Samsung Galaxy S2 so would not need LTE. On Sunday I went out and bought my Nexus 7.

I was pleased to discover that tethering the tablet to my phone was easier than the forum answers had led me to expect and did not require me to download any apps to do so. The tablet is very nippy and the screen is very clear. I have had no difficulty transferring DVDS from my PC via USB, I think a USB port is essential particularly where the Internet is unreliable. Yesterday I downloaded an episode of New Tricks on BBC IPlayer and watched it this morning, very smooth. I had no difficulty installing my essential apps like Google Drive and Facebook.

Although I have been using an Android phone for some time,  I have never, hitherto, used Google Play Books. While I was installing my apps Google Play kindly,  although without invitation (not sure I totally approve of that!),  loaded three of my favourite books to my Nexus 7.  I have started reading,  yet again,  The Three Musketeers.  The text is pin sharp, and it is easy to enlarge it. The pages flip over more easily than a paper volume and a wee touch in the top right corner marks the page.  I realised as I marked my page that I had done everything without any instructions,  it occurs to me that I haven’t even looked for any because using the Nexus 7 is so intuitive. When I was in the shop I played with the Surface tablets,  and I didn’t like them, I think I’d need a lot of practice before I could feel comfortable with them.  I am no geek, but I have found the Nexus 7 both easy and a pleasure to use,  I thoroughly recommend it to my fellow “silver surfers”.



Oh Come On Facebook!
May 14, 2013, 21:55
Filed under: Justice, Politics, Writing | Tags: ,

I used Facebook to campaign,
Now they are kicking up a fuss,
But I’m not going to complain
I can  always use Google Plus.
I contacted a lot of folk
In order to spread the word,
Seriously it is not a joke,
Facebook is often times absurd.
Should I be blamed for the amount
Of messages I choose to send?
It is, after all, my account
And I only sent them to my friends.
So I will do what I will do,
What if, of friends, I have oodles?
Facebook, that is enough from you,
Please don’t make me go to Google.



Keep Evernote
March 25, 2013, 23:10
Filed under: social media | Tags: , , , , ,

I have used and enjoyed Evernote for some time, but having heard about Google Keep I thought I would take a peek. What attracted me most to Keep is that it is integrated with my Google Drive, it is simple and convenient. My first niggle is that as far as I can see it only works on my phone, I can find no way of opening a more on my PC, if there is one I can’t find it! One of the reasons I use Evernote is that I can access it from my phone, my Windows PC at work and my Linux powered laptop.

I can’t find any way to organise my Keep notes into groups, Evernote lets me organise them into notebooks which makes life easier.

I am pleased that can share a photograph from my gallery into Keep and caption it. However i can import a photo into Skitch, put notes on the photo, with arrows and upload it to Everyone. I can make notes on a map in Switch and upload them to Evernote, as far as I can tell, I can’t do that in Google Keep.

I am a long standing fan of Google, I cannot conceive of life without Gmail, iGoogle, Google Reader, Picasa and Blogger, all of which are essential to my daily life…I could go off Google! I really did want to like Keep, it is a good program as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough. I am going to have to stick with Evernote just because it is so much more useful.

The point of apps is to make my life easier so ,for me, the bottom line is functionality and reliability, an App I have had to abandon recently is Hoot Suite which I loved because, again, it was so easy to use and very functional, but it kept refusing to post, posts went missing and it kept crashing. I have moved on to Tweetcaster which, like Hoot Suite, allows me to post to several accounts, but is even more functional. It has the usual search facilities, trends, and an ability to see who is nearby. It the ability to bring up a whole conversation, to re-tweet – with or without comment – to share on other social media platforms, to go direct to a link, see who has re-tweeted a tweet, go straight to a link. I love it, not so keen on the appearance, but love the app!

People complain that Google Play has fewer apps than Apple, for me it’s no problem, I’m actually uninstalling apps because there are actually very few that I really use.



Family Games

Every Christmas morning when we opened the pillowcases filled with our presents from Santa Claus among them would be a board game. We built up quite a collection of games, Scrabble, Monopoly, Cluedo, Buccaneer and the like. I also loved word based card games, and owned both Lexicon and Kan U Go. I have to admit that games caused one or two (dozen) arguments in our house, but we enjoyed them. Board games provide a structured interaction with other people as well as opportunities to practice a wide variety of skills, for example in Monopoly where one employs planning, investment, and negotiation skills. Back then board games provided hours of entertainment and an opportunity for the whole family to spend time together. We perhaps didn’t play as often as we should, but I loved it when we did and our games remain among my happiest memories.

We frequently sat down as a family to play board games, particularly at weekends. While we played many games, the family favourite was Ludo. Never was a game played with as much seriousness as was ludo in the Patton family, Calcutta Cup matches are trivial in comparison. My Father and Brother would be one team playing in red and in blue, while my Mother and I were the other in Yellow (I had to play in yellow) and green. My Father and Brother discussed strategy, or more accurately shouted at each other whenever one felt the other had moved the wrong counter, whereas my mother and I quietly just moved our pieces as we chose and generally won.

I loved Ludo as it was a game I could play with my Father. My brother who is very much more like my father than I, could play the card game Cribbage with my Father, but I did not have the arithmetic skills to play at my Father’s level. Only two people could play “Crib” whereas we could all play a board game. I dare say some people could point to dysfunctionalities in our family, but I suspect back in the days when board games were the norm and not even Pong had been invented we were more of a functional family than most are today.

Special acknowledgement to Wikipedia, Ellott Avedon
Virtual Museum of Games, wordgame-programmers@egroups.com and Google for links and information, Waddingtons, Parker Bros, Spear’s Games and Atari for many happy hours of entertainment.



Some thoughts on new Google and Twitter stuff

Google Instant.
I am now using Google Instant on my searches. Google Instant makes guesses at what I am typing in the Search Box as I type. I have to admit that ‒ whatever my opinions on predictive text ‒ I like Google Instant. It does save time and does not get in the way of typing. All I have to do is continue typing until the suggestion matches my target and then select it, simples!

Priority Inbox
I have now started using Google’s Priority Inbox. As yet I don’t think I am deriving maximum benefit from it because I am not diligent enough in training it. If you are assiduous in making sure every email that should be a priority is marked s such before you deal with it, the application learns which emails to filter as priority. This can reduce time spent on the inbox but as yet the app is still not fully trained and so I have to check the whole inbox. I suspect I probably always shall so while I will continue to use the app to help me focus I shall not depend upon it.

Twitter
I am now using the new version of Twitter. To be honest I don’t like change and I am not yet comfortable with the new layout. Having said that I must admit it is easy to use. I am not clear of the logic of having the Direct Messages ‒ now called just “Messages” ‒ in a different place from the tabs for @mentions, retweets etc. but it does mean that there is no danger of sending what should be a direct message as an @mention for all the world to see. The Retweet tab is useful for assessing the impact of RTs. It is a pity that Twitter still haven’t added the facility to edit a tweet before posting it to the Retweet Button so I am still primarily using Yoono. I love that clicking on a poster’s name brings up their tweets in a column beside the timeline, very useful! I think that the new Twitter is a big step forward in functionality, now I just have to get used to it!

Yoono
I upgrade my Yoono whenever they update it and it is now very definitely my Social Media client of choice. I lke that I can view most of my Social Media in one column at the side of my browser. The Icons across the top show me which of my accounts have been updated and I have the option of viewing a single account or all of them. Each single account gives me several options to check my timeline, direct messages, mention, friends etc. the options vary according to the account. The Share button makes it really easy to share web pages on my social networks.

Google
The core of my social networking remains Google. My Google mail is organised to bring me updates of activity on my blogs and on Facebook, it links with my Social Oomph to keep me apprised of mentions on Twitter and with Chirpstats to monitor the number of friends on my account. I use Google Docs for all my word-processing particularly as it makes it so easy to share documents. I prepare all my blogs in Google Docs. I follow other people’s blogs to which I subscribe in Google Reader and I use Picasa to sort, store and share photos.

Picasa Web Albums
Google have been making changes to Picasa Web Albums. You can upload photos straight to Twitter and Buzz. Editing is accessible at the click of a button. There’re just so many good things in Picasa you need to check it out for yourself. I like its ability to recognise people’s faces and its sharing options. I also like being able to relate photos to locations in Google Maps.



My Social Media Suite

Recently my wife Neelam Bakshi and I were invited to the Unitarian Church in Glasgow where much of Neelam’s address was about Social Networking which I feel sat well beside the hymns of Universalists like K. Patton and JA. Storey. To follow up on Neelam’s address I have produced this guide to the applications I use to make social networking an easy and enjoyable experience.

I think most people are aware of Social Media or Social Networking and are aware of micro blogging services like Twitter, Networking sites like Facebook and Blogging services like WordPress and Blogger. Not every one knows how to make the best of them. I am not a computer buff but I have found that using a combination of free tools makes my social networking easier and more efficient. I am not using the internet for profit and so that is not the focus of this piece but if that is your interest you will find yourself using these tools.

Any Social Media suite will be based on the primary services and then on the additional tools one uses to enhance their functionality. The core of my social networking suite is Twitter (http://twitter.com/) – which I use to automatically feed into my Facebook – and Google which contains a number of applications that enhance social networking.

Using Twitter
My first recommendation is read “The Twitter Book” by Tim O’Reilly
@timoreilly & Sarah Milstein @SarahM – both of whom maintain a friendly and helpful presence on Twitter. A useful source of tools to use with Twitter is the article: 99 Essential Twitter Tools And Applications (http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/17/99-essential-twitter-tools-and-applications/). None of the applications listed below will be of much use if you do not first create a Twitter (http://twitter.com/ ) account

Twitter Clients: TweetDeck & Yoono
These are programs that allow you more control over Twitter. On my Windows machine I use TweetDeck (
http://tweetdeck.com) and on Linux I am using Yoono (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1833). TweetDeck installs to to your desktop and so uses system resources if you don’t close and restart it every day. Yoono is a Firefox (my favourite web browser although brief acquaintance with Chrome is encouraging) add on and sits next to the main window as a hide-able sidebar. These clients allow you to manage several accounts and to link your Twitter accounts to certain social network sites like Facebook. Both of these allow you to easily shorten a URL (web address) to keep within the 140 character limit.

TwitterBar
TwitterBar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4664)is a Firefox add-on that allows you to post to Twitter from the browser address bar. This is very useful if you want to share a link to a web-page with a comment about it. Twitterbar will automatically shorten URLs.

SocialOomph
SocialOomph (http://www.socialoomph.com/)is an application that allows you to schedule your twitter updates for whatever time best suites you even if you will be fast asleep when they are published. this allows you to spread out your tweets or take advantage of time zones. It also allows you to vet your followers. I am about to go onto the paid for version because of the range of additional features.

Your Twitter Karma
Your Twitter Karma (http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/) is a useful tool for comparing your followers with those whom you are following.

Search Engines
The key to producing a blog that people want to read lies in interesting content and the quickest way to research content is to use a search engine and look on the internet. Google is most people’s first choice of search engine but there are some useful social media specific search tools. Twitter itself has a search facility and a people search. One Riot (http://www.oneriot.com/) is a social media search tool that comes packaged with Yoono and TwitterBar. Tip Top (http://feeltiptop.com/) is a useful tool for searching Twitter by subject. I personally like Kosmix (http://www.kosmix.com/)which searches for a topic across a number of social media .

Social Networking Sites
There are too many social networking sites to go into here but they tend to be separated into two main categories 1.Specialist interest including business networking sites like Ecadamy (http://www.ecadamy.com/) and LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com) and 2.Socialising of which the best known are Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/) and MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/). These sites are subscription based – many with free subscriptions – and several as well as networking facilities also host blogs.

You Tube
At this point I should mention You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/) which combines networking with hosting filmclips which provides many people with content for their social networking pages.

Blogging
Blogging is the practice of regularly sharing one’s thoughts and opinions via the internet. Most blogs are on individual websites but there are also agreat number of blogging services which will host blogs and websites constructed around blogs. Among the dedicated blog hosts are WordPress (http://wordpress.com/) my blog is at http://springingtiger.wordpress.com Google (http://www.google.com) and Xanga (http://www.xanga.com/) which hosts a number of specialist blog sites that also include social networking facilities. I am a member of one Xanga site Autisable.com (http://www.autisable.com)which allows me to share information and network with people who share an interest in autism.

GOOGLE
A major cornerstone of my social networking suite is Google. I don’t use Blogger but the social media sites I have joined post updates to my Googlemail which I can monitor from any internet connecion even my mobile phone. Much of the content of my posts is delivered to me by RSS feed to my Google Reader. The content of my Blogs is typed up initially – like this – in Google docs. Because I have an iGoogle home page I can see my most recent emails, RSS feeds and Facebook updates on the same page along with up to date weather, my calendar and various other things.

I have just installed linux on this laptop and set up my whole social media suite from the links in this article – which I had largely completed on Google docs – in about 30 minutes.

I have missed out services provided by Microsoft and Yahoo merely because I don’t personally use them but that is no reason not to investigate them as you put together a social media suite that works for you.




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