Sunday, November 25, 2012

Streaming Music on iPhones

I love my music !It's been awhile since I've talked about any apps, so I thought we'd talk about some music streaming apps.  My job allows me to work from home, and when I don't have to talk on the phone, I can listen to music (this is true in the office as well, but I need earphones to do it there--and not allowed to use my phone!). Sometimes I get tired of my playlist, and that's where streaming music comes in.

I've been using Jango for some time. I was using online before I even had my iPhone. I like Jango because you can create stations based on music you like. You add a few artists you like and it will find others like them. With your personal stations, you can give songs a thumb up for more play, or a thumb down to remove a song from your rotation. You can also choose one of Jango's many stations broken down by categories, decades, styles, you name it. You have the opportunity to listen to new artists with similar styles and vote on whether you want to hear more from them or not.

 This week, I was scrolling through the app store and found a new (to me) app called Songza. It sounded really cool, so I downloaded it and found out it is really cool! You start at the concierge with the day and time listed and you have 6 musical choices. Tonight I have "Bedtime", "Brand New Music", "Looking at Pictures of your Ex", "Love and Romance", "The Holidays", and "Unwinding". I went with Unwinding. You then have 6 more choices to help to choose the mood of the music you'll be listening to, then you can choose between 3 stations. If you scroll down, you can find similar soundtracks too. Tonight, I chose 80s Memories, and 80s Slow Dance. It's a great mix of 80s love songs and it's really mellow. Yes, I love 80s music, and I know that makes me a completely different kind of nerd than the one I married.

80s Radio cassette playerWhat I like about Songza is that you have a lot of choice. Every day or time of day has different choices listed to let you choose new stations. Stations that you've listened to before are stored, so if you want to listen to them again, no problem! I use the free versions of both of these apps. Jango has ads sometimes, but I usually only hear them when I skip a song. I could connect with my Facebook account to get rid of the ads, but they don't bother me enough to make me take that step.

Something important to know about streaming music: it uses a lot of data! You're streaming music over the internet, so unless you have unlimited data, you'll only want to use it where you have access to wi-fi. This is why I only stream music when I'm at home. If I used it anywhere else, my phone bill would be through the roof! And let's face it, we pay way too much for data packages in Canada as it is, I'm not giving my carrier any more money than I have to!

So, let me know, which apps do you like for streaming music? I'm always up to try a new one!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When Technology Goes Wrong--Fun with Handsfree


As you've probably noticed, I love to give my Nerd a hard time about his phone.  He's a Windows Phone guy and people have asked if he works for Microsoft because he talks about his phone that much.  Of course, when something on his phone doesn't work quite right, I am quick to remind him that I don't have that problem with my iPhone!

A couple of weeks ago, he was using the hands free voice recognition software on his phone to text his sister.  The kids were in room too (you'll see why that is an important piece of information in a moment).  Usually, he'll say, "Text so and so" and his phone will say, "Texting so and so, say your message."  This time, when he said, "Text my sister", for some reason, maybe some ambient noise in the room, the phone didn't recognize what he said.  Instead, it decided to do a search for what it 'heard', so it said, "Searching for three-way sex, my sister".  No really, that is what it said--out loud, with the kids in the room.  I nearly fell over laughing.  It was so funny to see the look on his face and watch him jump to cancel the voice program.  Our youngest didn't get what was so funny, but that didn't stop her from laughing.  Our 10 year old was concerned that the phone used a "bad word" about her aunt.  I still laugh over it now because it was so unexpected and I don't think I've seen my Nerd get so embarrassed about something.  He told me I couldn't Facebook it, but he didn't say I couldn't blog about it!

The very next day, the girls and I were coming home from church with my parents in my dad's van.  Dad had a golf game scheduled with his friend and wanted to let him know we'd be home soon, so he turned on his bluetooth handsfree device.  My dad isn't technically inclined, so I was impressed that he had bluetooth and knew how to use it.  He kept telling it who to call, but it kept coming up with different people in dad's phone book.  Every time it did, we all started laughing, so poor dad got frustrated.  I eventually used his phone to dial the number for him so that he could talk using his bluetooth, but his friend wasn't home after all of that effort and dad was able to call him when we got home.

Handsfree devices and voice commands are supposed to make it easier to communicate, but I find that they end up being more annoying than anything else.  We have a Blue Ant something like this in our car:

It's handy, but I only use it when I have to because to get it to dial out, you have to say, "Blue Ant, speak to me." You have to say it loudly to get it to respond, so if you have the windows down, you get some funny looks if you are alone in the car. It's not a bad little device, but I prefer dialling the phone, talking, hanging up and then driving. When I used to work late, I liked having handsfree so that I could talk to my Nerd while I was driving home, but now that I work from home, I don't drive as much, so I don't use it at all. I leave it to the Nerd instead.

Friday, November 2, 2012

You Know You're Married to a Nerd When...You Agree to go to a Windows 8 Launch Party

Yes, I really agreed to go to a Windows 8 launch party.  For some reason, I thought it would be a fun night out with grown up conversation.  When you work at home, you tend to jump at any opportunity to be outside of the house, especially if you can spend time with grown ups.

It was also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my Nerd.  We spent a lot of time talking on the way there (long drive).  We had some fun trying to score a parking spot at the venue and when we got there, I was relieved to see another Nerd couple that we have met before, so I knew there was someone I could talk to.

The event was in the back room of a kind of sports bar, you know, one of those places that you enter and the smell takes you back to your college days.  That's what it was like.  It wasn't a dive by any means, there were families eating dinner there too.

Anyway, the event was fairly low key.  There were munchies and cupcakes available to snack on before the presentations.  The first presentation was just my speed.  A little techie, but not too over the top.  The invitation said that you didn't have to be technically inclined, so it seemed OK at first.  It was about Windows 8 Consumer edition.  I could appreciate what they were discussing because we've been using Windows 8 for sometime.  It was interesting to see more of the background of Windows 8 and how it could work for me.
This may have been my favourite part of the night.  Yes, the label was edible.

I'm sorry to say that the second and third presentations were very much over my head.  There was too much technical information and I was completely bored.  I was glad to have the chance to catch up with the other Nerd wife while they continued.  Don't worry, we were tucked into a corner and whispered quietly.  Not something I would normally do at an event, but I was completely out of my depths with the conversation.  It was like the speaker suddenly started talking in another language.

What I can tell you is that Microsoft is very excited about Windows 8 and the new Surface computer.  I saw one and it looked pretty cool.  I didn't have the interest to stand in line to get up close and touch it.  After the talks, I lost my Nerd for a bit because he was networking, chatting with people about how great his Windows Phone is.  So, I rounded him up and we went home.

I'm not saying I hated the event, but I won't be going to another party like this with him.  I discovered that when they say you don't need to be techie, they are wrong.  It's just not for me.  And now my Nerd owes me a date to something that I want to do.  I'm thinking it's been a long time since I've been to the ballet!