Springingtiger's Blog

Here’s One I Prepared Earlier.


There are obstacles to my challenge of posting to my blog every day of this calendar year. The obvious one is finding something to write about everyday. The moment I decided to make that today’s subject I realised I was talking garbage. People who write a tightly specialist blog may sometimes be faced with a lack of subject matter, but I have no such restriction. Sometimes when writing fiction I find myself staring glumly at a blank screen, but in my blog I write about whatever I choose.

Sometimes I do find my writing time is limited. However my commitment is to post everyday, not necessarily to write a blog post everyday. I have found that some days when I have the time and inspiration I can write more than one post which means that I can save a few for emergencies. Generally I like to write one a day, but last time I did the one a day challenge I sometimes found myself in the car frantically trying to complete a blog on my phone as midnight approached. I learned that year to love the WordPress app.

One of my challenges for this year is to read the complete Bible. My sheer disgust at some parts, anger at others, and despair at some of the things I find in it are an unfortunate source of ideas. Although, I must admit, there are moments of positive inspiration. I try to read a non-fiction book every week which again stimulates ideas. The advantage of basing fiction on non-fiction is that you can’t be accused of stealing someone else’s plot…unless it’s a non-fiction book of questionable non-fictionality (the sort of thing that features Cathars, secret societies and plots about the crucifixion).

Writers who comment on the news have merely to turn on the television or radio for inspiration. Perhaps a visit to Google for additional material and their problems are solved. Without the internet there would be no blogging, in more ways than one. I know I am sitting here typing, surrounded by thousands of books, around two thousand in this room alone, but it is the immediate access to information on the internet that really facilitates blogging. I find I will first use Google to confirm my sources rather than spend time hunting for a book. The only problem with internet sources like Wikipedia is that occasionally they can be inaccurate, particularly if nobbled by an editor of ill-intent, so I still like my books. Even if focused on one field the internet allows a writer to trawl for inspiration, just type a single word like ‘controversial’ into Google and you will get ideas, you’d be amazed at how many entries there are under ‘controversial fancy dress’! Add another word to your and still more possibilities appear.

A traditional starting point for the traditionally stuck is the writing prompt. You can find them in books and writing magazines and again on the internet. Researching just now I found plenty including writingexercises.co.uk which has a random first line generator a good way to spark off an idea ‘The horse came back alone….’ For fun www.seventhsanctum.com produces some prompts which are utterly surreal, it is worth reading the comments beneath the prompts to enjoy people’s reactions to them. I think, personally, I’d stick with Writing Exercises who have a nice selection of random generators for anything from Titles (How about ‘The Ancient Stool’ or ‘The Crazy Diamonds’?) to Jobs, Chatacter Traits, Dialogue, First Lines etc. You might not use them, but that’s not necessarily the point, they may just shake you out of your rut and get you past your block. They also have several mobile phone apps on Google Play, but as I haven’t tried their apps I shall forbear from comment. Perhaps if I’m stuck for ideas later in the year, I shall in desperation down load them and write….a review.

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


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.


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