Monthly Archives: September 2010

Adopt a dog and change your life (for the better)… October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

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A year ago this month, I crossed off an item on my bucket list and adopted a 2 year old toy poodle. He had some health problems but his most serious problem was that he needed a home.

Little did I know then, by adopting him my life would change forever (in a good way).

I’d never had a dog or even taken care of a dog before. I had always adopted cats. I was completely clueless! I had no idea how often he might need to go out, or how to tell if he wasn’t feeling well.

When I adopted Jack, he looked much older than a 2-year old dog. During our initial visit to the vet, I learned he had juvenile cataracts (breed-related) and severe allergies. Thankfully, we have a great vet who monitors Jack closely and helps me ensure he’s doing well. I’m also thankful for friends with dogs who helped me learn what I needed to know to give him a good home.

What I didn’t realize when I adopted him, was how great an impact he’d have on my life.

  • I now know *all* of the neighbors who live within several blocks of my house. Going out for walks with Jack daily has cultivated my sense of community. I’ve made some wonderful friends, and it’s so gratifying to see Jack connect with other people and dogs. He’s a sweet dog and people seem drawn to him.
  • When I get home, it’s always an event! The cats might sneer, but Jack is always thrilled to see me come in the door…. even if I only left 5 minutes before.
  • Because I adopted him as an adult, I had no “raising a puppy” issues. He was already house trained and understood how to tell me he needed to go out.
  • He is very sweet and also very smart. What a great combination! He learns quickly and is very affectionate.
  • It feels great knowing I gave a sweet dog a safe and loving home.
  • I gained a loyal friend. I never really understood why dogs were called “man’s best friend” until I bonded with Jack. Now, I know I’ll always have a dog in my life.

Don’t take my word for it. Go to your local shelter, rescue group or visit petfinder.com, and meet a new friend. He/she will change your life as well!

HTC EVO, three months on…

I’ve had my HTC EVO for three months, having picked it up on  June 5th.That was the day after launch, and the store sold out their stock imgreswhile I was activating my account. Little did I realize how good my timing was, considering EVO remained out of stock at Sprint for months.

So, what’s the verdict? I still love my EVO. It’s easily the best smartphone I’ve ever used:

  • Big, easy to read screen
  • Despite size, comfortable to use
  • HTC’s Sense UI, which makes Android even more enjoyable to use
  • 8MP camera that’s good enough to leave my Point & Shoot at home
  • HD video recording
  • Wifi Hot Spot capability (requires Sprint $30 add-on fee)
  • The kickstand, which I mocked before getting the phone, is extremely handy for viewing/listening to media
  • Excellent call quality & data speeds, thanks to Sprint’s network and extremely affordable plans

Not to mention all the Android Froyo goodness… I love how Android is tightly coupled with Google’s other services, so it’s easy to set up email, calendar sync, upload video to YouTube.

Despite having fewer apps available than Apple’s iTunes, I don’t have any difficulty finding great apps in the Android Market. Here are my current favorites, in no specific order:

  • Dropbox beta (released 9/16/2010): Takes the original Dropbox app and adds Android UI elements such as long press. Not yet in the Android market — link points to Dropbox web page containing download link. (Free app)
  • Hurricane Hound Free: It’s hurricane season, so this app comes in very handy. Not only shows current location, but also path. (Free)
  • SlideIT Keyboard: I participated in the Swype beta and could use that swipe-to-type keyboard, but actually prefer SlideIT.  (Paid, €5.99)
  • EStrongs File Explorer: I used to use Astro but find EStrongs provides a more flexible, attractive UI. (Free)
  • SnapTell: There are lots of “snap to scan” shopping apps but I find SnapTell to be more accurate than most. It provides links to online sources, as well as local stores. I like it better than Google Shopper. (Free)
  • Angry Birds Lite Beta: I love this game on my iPad and I’m thrilled to see it come to Android. Thankfully, the 9/17/2010 release works well on EVO. If ever there were a game requiring  12-step program for addiction, this is it! (Free)
  • Multicon Widget: Multicon lets you display 4 apps &/or widgets in the space of one. It’s perfect for those apps that I need to have handy but don’t want cluttering up my home screen. (Free)
  • Barcode Scanner: Best scanner app I’ve found for QR codes. (Free)
  • FromWhere: Nothing fancy but works well… shows city for incoming calls. (Paid, $1.43)
  • TuneIn Radio: Surprisingly, I think this free version works even better than its “paid” sibling (RadioTime). Access to numerous local and online radio stations. (Free)
  • Toss It Pro: A great game and my favorite “kill time while standing in line” app. (Paid, £2.99; free version available)
  • Touiteur Premium: Easily my favorite Twitter app. Lots of features, easily customizable, stable and reliable. Note that you must also have the Touiteur free version installed, since the “Touiteur Premium” app in the Market just provides your license. (Paid, €1.99; free version available)
  • Finance: Google’s own Finance app, providing real-time quotes and ability to track your portfolio. Note: I believe this app only supports US markets. (Free)
  • Tapatalk Forum App (Pro): Provides an easy way to subscribe to and track your favorite online forums. Much easier than trying to view forums via the browser. (Paid, $2.99; free version available)
  • Movies: Great for finding local show times, browsing DVDs, reading Rotten Tomatoes reviews and managing your Netflix queue. (Free)
  • Pandora Radio: Everyone knows Pandora… a great way to personalize streaming radio. (Free)
  • StumbleUpon: Fun way to kill time and find new and interesting web sites. (Free)
  • Dilbert Mobile: For those of us who work for corporations, a refreshing dose of daily satire.  (Free)
  • Springpad: Similar to Evernote but increasingly more full-featured.  Syncs with Springpad web site. Note: Be sure to set your settings to private if you don’t want to share your content. (Free)
  • Kindle for Android: Easy way to read your Kindle library on your phone. (Free)
  • Zillow Real Estate: Was out dog-walking with a neighbor when we passed a house that had been for sale for months – we used Zillow to view the asking price and decided the house wasn’t moving because it was overpriced. (Free app)
  • Silent Boot: Love Sprint and their network but hate the loud startup sound? This app fixes that problem Smile (Free)
  • Google Chrome to Phone: A very handy app, especially when I find a cool app available online only and want to download/install it. (Free)
  • Audible for Android: If you’re an Audible subscriber, this is a must have app. Download your books or stream (handy for those WSJ / NYTimes morning podcasts). (Free)
  • Beautiful Widgets: Very customizable widget that displays time and weather on your home screen. Don’t have a Sense phone? No worries, you can use Beautiful Widgets to design a similar time and weather widget for your non-HTC Android phone. (Paid, €1.49; from LevelUp Studio, the maker of Touiteur)
  • IMDb Movies & TV: Love this app – perfect for the serious film buff. (Free)
  • DroidEssentials: Very handy – alerts you when your battery charge reaches 100% or when it drains to 10%. I find I get better battery mileage on my EVO if I unplug it from AC power just as soon as it reaches 100% charge. (Free)
  • Quick Settings: Easy way to revise your various settings, all on one screen. I notice that the changes are immediate, without the lag I’ve sometimes experienced when using settings widgets. (Free)
  • Google Voice: Love Google Voice and use it on my EVO  instead of Sprint voicemail. (Free)
  • Battery Status Bar (AD free): Want to easily view battery % remaining in the notification bar? This app is just the ticket. (Paid, $0.99; free version available)
  • CNET News: Excellent tech news source and great app. (Free)
  • Google Maps: Oh, Google Maps… how I love thee! When I started using your voice navigation feature, I kicked my Garmin GPS to the curb permanently. (Free)
  • Sprint TV: Sprint TV is available for free as part of the stock EVO ROM. I like it a lot, and actually subscribe to Sprint TV Extra for more channels. ($10 per month)

About the battery…
I find the whole “EVO battery is horrible” meme to be overstated. I’ve found my EVO battery life to be comparable to other smartphones I’ve used, including the iPhone 3GS. I believe the bad press is because Sprint sells the phone with every conceivable sync app/setting enabled. For savvy users, it’s a no-brainer to turn off sync for those apps one doesn’t use…. problem solved.

I’m a bit surprised myself that I like the EVO so much even three months in. Usually by now, I’d be checking out other phones to see what I wanted to upgrade to next. Not so with the EVO… great phone, great plan, great Sprint service. I’m a happy camper. Smile