Friday, October 28, 2011

Review of My Android Tablet: Eee Pad from Asus

The Android attack !I've been using my tablet for a little while now and I thought it was about time that  I share my opinion of it.  If you're looking for a technical review with specs and stuff, this is not it.  This is just me sharing my opinion of my tablet.

The first thing I want to say is that it is not the machine I thought it was.  This is not the Eee Pad's fault.  The tablet was bought for me by someone else on another person's recommendation.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm very grateful to have a computer to work on.  However, had the choice been left to me, I would have gone with something different because I don't need a tablet--I need a computer with internet and a word processing program.  That's it.

I like the tablet.  It's a lot of fun.  As a tablet, it's a great little machine.  The touch screen is great, and I love that I can detach the keyboard when I want to.  Taking the keyboard off is great for reading on the Kindle App or playing Tetris.  It's much easier to read on the tablet screen than it is on my iPhone.  I haven't made much use of the camera feature.  The tablet is too big to carry around to catch candid photos.  That's what my iPhone is for (and to a lesser extent, my camera).

eee Pad Transformer
The apps for the Android tablet are great.  There is a lot of selection in free apps.  I haven't paid for a single app on my tablet.  The free versions of some games are the full versions--Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio are all free.  (Yes, I'm a bit of an Angry Birds fan).  I haven't been able to find Plants vs Zombies yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it crosses platforms.  If you're looking for a tablet strictly for games, this is a good machine for you.

Most of the apps I like on my iPhone I was able to find for the Android.  If you can't find the exact app, chances are there is a similar one around.  I have fun changing up the backgrounds on my tablet.  The last one I used had balloons floating on the screen that you could pop.  How cool is that?

The battery life on this tablet is great.  I give it a full charge and I can run it pretty much all day, even if I'm using a lot of apps.  It doesn't take a long time to charge either and I love that it doesn't run "hot" like my old laptop did.

I'm a writer, so like I've said, this isn't the best machine for me.  What I find particularly frustrating is the keyboard.  Since it is so compact, some buttons are too close together.  Touch typing is nearly impossible.  I often find my cursor jumping up to the address bar because I hit an arrow key when I thought I was hitting the space bar.  Things that should be simple, like replying to a tweet using Hootsuite have become arduous tasks.  My presence on Twitter has decreased because it is too darn frustrating to try to tweet using the apps for this tablet.

I like my tablet a lot as a tablet.  As a writing tool, not so much.  I'm not going to go crazy and throw it out a window or anything, but I do wish that there was more information out there that was easily accessible to help me with simple things like "copy and paste".  Seriously, why is it such a hard thing to do on this thing?  I've taken to borrowing my nerd's computer or using the dreaded desktop in the basement to do my writing.

By the way, the instruction booklet that came with the machine was particularly useless.  It had a few screen shots and that was it.

I would really love to hear other opinions on the Android tablet, particularly for the Eee Pad.  If you are using one successfully, please give me some hope!  It can't be this frustrating to use, right?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Telecommuting: As Close as I Get to Nerding Out

Last year, a co-worker asked me why I didn't take advantage of our company's work at home program.  I told them that I wasn't interested.  I needed to be around people and I just couldn't see myself working at home.  Today was my very first day of telecommuting and I loved it!

I guess it really is funny how much difference a year makes.  With my husband being self employed and only one car, I started to think seriously about working at home this summer.  I applied for the position in July, and my first day was today, October 21, so that tells you a lot about how things went, especially since I was the first person in my group to be set up.

I work for a very progressive company, and one of the big initiatives they've had is giving their employees the opportunity to work from home.  It's great for work-life balance.  I was able to take the girls to school this morning and then be there to pick them up as well.  I came home, put my jammies back on (what is the point of working from home if you can't wear your jammies?) and relaxed for a bit before going downstairs to get my computer started.  I had planned on getting some housework done, but that plan was made to be broken.  I had a few technical glitches, but ultimately, I was able to do my job pretty much the same as I do at the office.

It was so great not to have to rush home and rush out to the office this morning.  I didn't have to find something "decent" to wear, pack a lunch, or dig through my purse to find my ID badge.  No fighting traffic, no filling up with gas.  No juggling the car with my husband.  Yeah, I'd say there are lots of plusses for working from home.

Was I lonely?  Not really.  I spent the entire summer working pretty much by myself at the office because no one else was sitting in my area.  If I need help, or want to chat, we have an instant messaging program that we use, or e-mail, so it wasn't too lonely at all.  Besides I was too busy working to notice!

The tecnical aspect was a little daunting because even though it's the same set up I have at the office, there are some differences.  I had to talk to tech support a couple of times, and do some troubleshooting of my own, but it wasn't too bad.

I'm pretty sure my nerd was impressed with my new home office.  He definitely likes not having to drive me to work so he can have the car, and it's nice to know he doesn't have to rush home to get the kids in the afternoon, so he can spend more time with his clients.

After one day of telecommuting, I'm loving it.  I'm so glad I got to be at home before it started snowing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Experimental Television: Untitled Jersey City Project

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Untitled Jersey City Project for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
UNT_091311_Title_bmb_v01.ai (1 page)
When I first received the opportunity to write about Untitled Jersey City Project, I was intrigued.  What on earth was a work-in-progress television drama and how would it work?  How can you experiment with television? Well, I watched the Sneak Peek video, and I was hooked.  I watched all 8 episodes and visited the Web site for more information.
Untitled Jersey City Project is a fast paced drama centered in a "new" Jersey City that hopes to rival Manhattan in the near future.  Sleek office towers are being built across the river from New York City in a rundown section of Jersey City.  New foundations are being poured, but Jersey City's game is unchanged. as each of the characters is bound to discover.  It's got everything a good story needs, a good guy architect, his business partner with questionable ethics who may have committed suicide or been murdered, a sexy reporter trying to uncover the truth, a business mogul client with possible mob ties, his driver who acts as a hired gun but is actually working for the feds, a mysterious couple who are funding the project--are they brother and sister or husband and wife?-- and a union boss.  Corners are being cut, money is being made and lives are at stake.
There's intrigue, corruption, death and sex.  The time lines jump around a lot, so you're kept on your toes.  You think you know what is happening, but then you realize that you were completely wrong.  I really liked it.  Too much television now follows a predictable pattern.  This show is not like that.  In fact, it's not like anything I've seen before.  Don't believe me?  Check out the Sneak Peek video here:


You can find all 8 short-form videos on YouTube.  Be sure to visit the site to learn more about the backgrounds of each character.
I am looking forward to seeing how Untitled Jersey City Project develops and I will definitely be keeping an eye on the site to see how I can be involved in shaping the future of television.  After you watch the video, let me know what you think!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, October 17, 2011

Use Social Networking to Take Part in the Aviva Community Fund Contest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aviva Community Fund for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
We all know that social networking is where "they" say "it" is at, but how often do you get a chance to use social networking for the greater good?  The Aviva Community Fund Contest lets you enter your ideas for positive community change on their Facebook page, then you spread the word and get people to vote for your idea.
When you like Aviva Community Fund on Facebook, $1 is donated to Free the Children to support programs for at-risk youth in Canada.  By spreading the word about the contest, not only is your idea getting out there, you're also helping kids in your community and other communities right across Canada, and that's pretty powerful.  For updates on the Contest, you can also Follow @avivacf on Twitter.
Now for the details.  Your idea for creating positive change in your community can be entered until November 30, 2011.  This is also the last day for voting and the winners are announced on January 25, 2012.  Winners are chosen based on the number of votes, so be sure to spread the word.  Use your social networks to help your idea gain momentum!  For an increased chance of winning, get an insurance broker to support your idea.
The winning ideas get to share $1,000,000 to make those ideas reality and to create positive change in their communities.  Past winners include a hockey team for youth with intellectual and physical disabilities in Ottawa, an animal shelter in Yellowknife, and playgrounds for schools right across Canada.  So what are you waiting for?  Submit your idea and start spreading the word!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nerd Fun: Geocaching

About a month ago, I mentioned that I'd talk about geocaching soon.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get to it!    I started geocaching a couple of years ago with my family.  We all love to do it.  It's basically a kind of treasure hunt that you do using a GPS.  You go online to a geocaching Web site, find a cache that you want to look for, download the co-ordinates into your GPS and off you go!

We use Geocaching.com.  We just have a regular membership, but I'm thinking of asking for an upgraded membership for Christmas this year (Honey, are you reading this??).  We use two different GPS units to find caches.  Our main GPS for geocaching is my iPhone (more about that in a minute).  We also use our Garmin.  To use the Garmin, go into your options and change from driving to walking.  You can search by co-ordinates.

For the iPhone, you can download the geocaching.com app.  The trial version is free and lets you find 3 caches.  After that, you need to buy the app.  It was $9.99 when I bought it and well worth the investment to be able to use my phone.  It lets you access hints, user comments, photos, a compass and you can even upload your logs straight from your phone.

Each geocache is a container that usually includes a log book and writing utensil and sometimes swag.  The rule of geocaching is that if you take something out of the cache, you will put something at least as good back in it.  My kids love to make trades, so I keep little things like keychains and small toys on hand when we cache.  You can log on the site whether you found the cache or not and any other notes you want.

We usually stick to difficulty one or two when we cache with the kids because there is nothing quite like having frustrated kids searching for something.  I also check the terrain difficulty so that I know if the kids can handle the walk or if there is a cliff or something we need to be worried about.

We've done caching on vacation and at home.  It's a great way to find new places in your hometown.  We've found a few parks this way.  We've found a micorcache (a tiny cache), a cache hidden in an ammunition container, caches hidden in trees, under rocks, in all sorts of places.  We've cached in all seasons and weather.  We've seen some rabbits and lots of gophers.

Geocaching is a lot of fun!  It's a great way to get outside as a family and get some fresh air and exercise.  Give it a try!


Head in Tree
Remember I mentioned that we found a cache in a tree? This is my nerd in the tree. He had to go in pretty far to reach it! I'm sure he'll have a comment or two when he finds out I've shared this picture!

Friday, October 7, 2011

My New Toy: Android Tablet

OK, so the other day, we covered how my poor hard-working Dell gave up the ghost.  A writer without a computer, is not a happy camper, especially when she mostly writes Web content.  What's a girl to do?  Actually, nothing.  That's right.  Nothing.  My nerd took care it for me.  I wasn't planning on getting a new computer right away.  I thought I'd wait and use the nerd's laptop when he wasn't using it.  Yeah, that idea didn't go over so well.  I could also have used the desktop computer in the basement, but it's a pain to use and he's got it all tricked out and set up in special ways, so I usually avoid it at all costs.

Here is what he got me:


ASUS Eee Pad It is an ASUS Eee Pad. I've got mixed feelings about it. It's a great gadget, and has a lot of very cool features, but it's very different from my Dell. I know it's a new machine and it's not supposed to be the same, but I'm finding that it has a long learning curve. The keyboard is small, but I love that it is detachable, so that it can be used as a tablet and a computer. I have to be careful when I try to hit the backspace key, because I've been getting the lock key instead, the one that turns the computer screen blank and requires you to log back in.  It gets just a tad frustrating.

I also like that I can use it as a tablet.  It's pretty neat to be able to detach the keyboard and use the tablet part for Kindle reading or playing a game.  I also go from typing on the keyboard to using the touch screen.

What I haven't done yet is word processing.  Considering this is the whole reason I have the Eee Pad, this is not a good thing.  I'm finding it difficult to figure out things like copy and paste and other basic stuff like that.  What I really need is a beginner's course or something like that.  So I'm asking my nerdy readers:  do you use an Android?  How did you learn how to use it?  Are there any Web sites or how-to guides you can recommend?  Let me know because I need help!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laptop Death: Mourning of a Different Kind

Yes, it's tue.  My trusty Dell laptop died last week.  Kicked the bucket.  Went to the giant motherboard in the sky.  I can admit that I'm being just a tad dramatic, but losing my laptop is a huge thing for me, especially since I'm a writer and I need my computer to function.

Not my laptop, but you get the idea.
It's taken time to get my laptop tweaked exactly how I wanted it.  I knew that computer inside and out.  If something wasn't working right, I'd usually troubleshoot on my own before bringing in my nerd for help.  Lots of times, I was able to fix it myself.  That's because when you've had your laptop for awhile, you know it's rhythms.  You know what problems are likely to occur.  If they've happened often enough, you know how to fix the problem.

I had my Word program set up to do spell check in Canadian Engish for my writing and Amerian English for clients' writing.  I had my desktop pictures set up as pictures of cute dogs so that I could look at them every day and remind my nerd that we need to get a dog (still working on him).  My laptop was worn and comfortable, kind of like that old pair of jeans that is worn in all the right places and fits perfectly.   The "N" was even worn off the key--though I'm not sure why.  I thought the most used letter in the alphabet was "E".  Maybe I use a lot of words with the letter N in them?

I used my nerd's computer a few times, but it was so frustrating to use.  Despite the fact that both laptops are Dells, keys were in different places and I found myself having to use the backspace key a lot.  Plus, I didn't have my LastPass profile on his computer, so I had to log him out of LastPass and hope that I remembered my passwords.

Losing a laptop is something that happens from time to time.  This laptop lasted longer than I might have expected it to (its predecessor met its end when my youngest spilled a glass of water on it).  For a refurbished computer, it sure had a lot of life to it even if the battery no longer held a charge and they no longer make parts for it.  It lived a noble life, and kept at it until it ha nothing left to give.  I'll miss my laptop but the good news is that this means that I'll be getting a new toy!