There comes a time when an app that you were happy with when you first used them become stale, old or change to the point that you no longer want to use them. In some cases they can be replaced with apps that actually work better. In other cases you have to make do.
The first app that I recently replaced was the one that came preinstalled on my S5, it was the one that made use of the ir feature on the phone to control the TV. I was really happy with it until it became PEEL, things changed slowly. Features started to creep in which I really wasn’t happy with. Looking at the playstore review section not many others liked it either. The biggest bug bear was the advert that became a right pain, offers to pay a fee to get rid of them went unheeded. So I tried several and best one I found for my uses was IR universal remote. Its relativity simple and offers exactly what I want although at the moment I’m mostly using demand TV and Kodi so an app that turns the TV on and off and alters the volume would be OK and all I really need. Recent updates to the roku app are in my opinion have made it less useful. Its latest layout does give the remote a default that means it opens with a screen of your apps which is not what I want. I’m finding this somewhat negative but there again I’m finding myself mostly using libreelec with just two catchup apps used in the roku akthough over a period of a few weeks since I last added to this post I have since ditched the roku altogeather due to it being somewhat useless. Instead I have watched TV when the shows have actually been on and used the Kodi device more.
For Kodi I am now using Yatse, much better experience and more functions which I have still to explore, parly due to time and also spending time trying to get other stuff improved/fixed. Yatse is best paid for as you get more from it
Lately Kodi has been in the news thanks to the pre installed boxes…don’t touch these!! Kodi itself have distanced themselves from these devices and quite rightly. I am concerned that miss information in the main stream newspapers and TV will harm this fantastic piece of software which is perfectly legal.
Yes, I admit it. I am late in posting about this but things got really busy over the past few weeks but at least it gave me time to check it properly. Any way, its given me time to play with new browser Vivaldi (available here https://vivaldi.com ). Its available for linux and I expect other systems but I don’t check that because I don’t care for those. I downloaded it straight from the website and strongly suspect that it isn’t in the repos for Ubuntu and its various versions, nope, ain’t checked that either. At first I found it somewhat frustrating that I had to keep going back to Firefox (which I still really like) due to constant failures. I found that certain things didn’t work such as keepass at first but a few updates and they work fine. Early releases off new stuff always has problems so I kept testing and now use it most of the time.
The current problem that I have now is that some settings are missing or hidden that I have been used to in Firefox and what I really want is the one that I click once so that in the future history is deleted when I end the browser session. However, one of things with Vivaldi is that its more for the power user and one of the functions is being able to take notes so I am suspecting that if history was deleted on shut down then the notes will either be lost or useless.
The browser is based on the chrome engine so chrome add-ons can be used. I did think about trying join ( a thingy that connects devices) but seeing as though I use KDE which has KDE connect I really don’t see the rush, it would be nice to know though. The keepass app that I using works well, actually I tried a couple of others which were failures as far as I am concerned. Keepass actually works better with Vivaldi compared to Firefox.
Visually, its not bad but really needs to be more customizable like theming along the lines of Firefox. Just using colours is similar to the look of android which is boring but then just having colours means there is not a lot to distract the user. The lay out is nice, better access to history would be nice though. Having things such as bookmarks and downloads access from a bar on the side is a good touch.
I actually started to wright this a few weeks ago and Vivaldi has now become my default browser on my laptop. It actually seems to be improving all the time. Speed seems to be the thing, its faster and various functions are handy when I find them. Based on the Chrome engine which I absolutely hate but this has everything I need. I see bright future for this browser and hope it gains more popularity.
A couple of months ago I posted that that Microsoft can’t be trusted with Linux and android and now other people are starting to say the same thing on how they seem to be trying to blackmail companies via software patents, etc. Well they seem to be doing just that. It had not occurred to me but the predicted loss of support to Skype for Linux as or is occuring with no updates for a couple of years. I also feel that its becoming less useful for individual, as it seems that group calling is becoming more promoted but there again, I feel that people are leaving it for more secure apps. So from this I move to what’s in and what’s out.
First up is guess what? Skype, I have recently removed it from my phone and soon my tablet. The monthly subscription was ditched a while ago as it served no purpose what so ever. I don’t use it as much as I did, I am going to try and get an open source alternative. If my friends want to video call then they can change and ditch that Microsoft controlled Skype. I am convinced that Skype is not so good as it was with not being as reliable and secure as before.
Also out is Swiftkey, largely for the reason that Microsoft as bought it. Swiftkey is one of best keyboards available with it prediction but I am not at all happy about Microsofts involvement and control of the app. I feel that it will also go down the pan as other things have, Skype and Nokia for example. I am currently try swipe which while not as good with prediction is a good alternative.
An newish app that I am becoming fond of is Pocketcast, I seem to be listening to podcasts a lot more these days, largely due to normal radio becoming stale with manufactured so called music and useless chatter. I haven’t really settled on a good range of podcasts but I do need to get used to this to get the most out of it. The first thing will be to figure out a way to have the casts follow on from the last when it finishes.
A lot has happened in the past few months hence and the biggest attack on my time as been work which as been really busy topped with helping my parents. In that time a new toy has arrived. Remember my pebble? Well, I backed the Kickstarter campaign for the pebble time and a few months back it arrived (have I really had it that long?). No, I didn’t do it just to stick my middle finger up at the apple watch, well sort off, I just wanted to back what I thought was a better product. In the time that I have come to depend on it. I am sure that my phone battery has been lasting longer because an average day I hardly touch it unless an important email comes through. Work breaks mean the phone gets used although thinking about it several recent changes have also improved the battery live but more that later.
With the pebble time improvements and new features come out with each app/system upgrade. The battery life on this thing is great, I have had up to 7 days but has it is used for all sorts of things a little less some weeks. I have come to rely on a handful of apps, compass, music boss, pebble communicator, watchnote just to name the top ones but others are also handy like javaplay (starbucks). I also have a couple of other apps I am trying out to get more out of the thing. The main project at the moment is Tasker which seems to be doing what I want and with pebble tasker a little bit more (another post will deal with this).
In the past couple of weeks pebble has also announced the pebble round which looks really good but I doubt I will go for it has in my opinion, it’s for people with small wrists but mostly because I love what I have. I still have the original pebble, its connected to my nexus 7 for a project which I am hoping to develop…
I have been extremely busy with work for a couple of months hence my lack of activity. I will say it again, that is about to change. I have realised over the past week that things need to be done and that I am falling behind with the tech in my life. The things I know I want to do include having an encrypted usb drive (I had one but forgot the password), more function for my watch and better use of my phone/tablet.
Lets touch on the subject of USB encryption. I want to get one of drrives re-set up as I forgot the password. I want somewhere to keep important personal files and would like them protected. I have spent sometime this morning researching the subject and guess what? Every website seems some what outdated by at least a year. I suspect this is for two reasons. The first being the Trucrypt situation last year and second, the powers that be are trying to keep this sort of information very low key and out of the general populations eyes so that they can protect their information. I will reserach this further time permiting.
I have settled on a set off app for my pebble and seem to be getting more function out off it as a result. This seems to be since on dropped Awear for it and after searching the pebble app store found a number of app that take the watch to the next level. I am currently checking out pebble tasker to truly make it a smart watch. However, the 8 app slots is a little restrictive at times and I have had to remove a couple of useful apps to make way for others. The good news though is that my pebble-time should arrive soon taking this restriction away.
As for the laptop, I think I have the music player to suit me, Clemetine. I can play my own music AND have spotify instead of the now pain in the backside desktop application which stopped working. Yes, I know I can have it running via wine but I find that unacceptable.
The phone is also under going change. Inbox was updated in the past few days and made open to anyone. Lots of improvement including delete at the top of the email for easier deleting. Just wish that it was available as a swipe action (trying to work this one out as the notes on the playstore said this was possible). The new photos app is also being tested but we will see if this stays. I have to investigate its use on the Linux system which isn’t listed but when you check the web site it lists windows and iOS as through the browser use. OK, yes, you can use it through the desktop on Linux but there is no uploader application available, you have to do it through the browser.
Over the past couple of months I have not been posting much or doing much in general on the tech side of things. I guess this has been due to a number of factors including being busy at work, lack of motivation and being very tired. However, I guess another reason could be that things got somewhat stale and I was getting to lazy in that I wasn’t changing anything. Well, some vacation time as seen a resurgence in my interest and a bit of time to do some thinking. Plus, the announcement of the new pebble-time. I am really looking forward to the new pebble and actually backed it. This is the first time I have actually backed something on kickstarter and now know it will not be the last either.
So what I have I changed?
My first point of call is my pebble, I had been having alot of problems with battery drain after an update, I tried everything before resorting to removing all of the apps and stopping some of the apps on the phone. The battery life was back to what it was. I reinstalled my main apps but setting them up better than before. I checked the user guide for more info and found one or two additions within these with more information these included the default functions of the watch. This meant that Awear was more or less redundant, so I left it off. As it turned out, it is likely that this was the culprit for the battery drain! It kept going wrong, crashing, etc . So I completely removed it. I have a feeling that it hadn’t been updated for quite sometime as well. The only thing that I missed was the SMS function. While the default function on the watch app offers pretty much basic functions it doesn’t offer what I was truly after. My own custom replies which I found useful in Awear and one of the main reasons I tried hanging on to it. Some searching and I found pebble communicator. This app requires a phone app as well but it offers exactly what I was looking for, including being able to reply from the app! The only thing missing now is the ability to delete emails from the watch.
Next I have moved on to my S5, I had thinking for sometime that I had this thing and not using it to its fullest. I was also getting hacked of with Aviate, despite being one of the best launchers/home screens the Yahoo rot was leaking into it. Various things were becoming to integrated with yahoo and seeing as though Yahoo is in bed with Microsoft I was getting closer and closer to ditching it. The final straw was finding constant alerts for cricket and other sporting events which I hadn’t asked for and no way to turn them off, the problem was yahoo! So I did some more searching and messing about and ended up with Buzz, while a fresh experience, I am really getting to enjoy my phone again and its much more customizable with no forced crap from yahoo, etc. The battery seems to last a little more on some occasions depending on usage. Other changes are being tested which seem okay but I want to make sure I am happy with them!
The tablet has also under gone changes, I had been getting reports that the UI was not responding and the device was being slow (an under statement) and not being what it was. So I have installed a new launcher which seems to be faster but is also under going trials (as in, does it work as I expect). A few of the apps have also been removed because I realised there is no point in having ones I don’t use. I am thinking of ways to get more out of this device as well.
The roku 3 is also working nicely and I will write up a separate post for that!
Expect more in the coming few weeks as I go through stuff.
Even though the Inbox app from the makers of Gmail is still by invite only, I have been able to try it out over the past few weeks. Unfortunately my request to Google went unseen. However, I was able to get an invite from someone on G+. It has become one of my favourite new apps this year and far better than the main Gmail one as it only connects to gmail and not my other email accounts.
Currently I have it connected to my pebble to allow notifications although it currently has a major bug that doesn’t allow for deleting emails from the watch. For that I have relied on Awear although I may do away with this due to recent issues (wondering if it is still being developed). I am suspecting that this is so that the google software can scan all your emails to allow for targeted advertising as the delete option isn’t as it is with the gmail app. One way to prevent this may to save your emails on your own personal server and not within the online googlemail account. Something I will be looking into, I seem to have loads of saved emails but refer to very few and I personally don’t wantt to keep them online which may allow snooping.
In regards to app/pebble notifications I have turned off the gmail app notifications and turned on Inbox. This means that the latest version of the Pebble app can be put to use as it allows far more apps (all of the ones on my phone by the looks of it) to give android ware type notifications/connectivity. Thus, Inbox notifications go to the phone but gmail doesn’t. Alas, I can only dismiss the email but if Awear is working then I am able to delete it. The phone doesn’t get touched much when I can do this, which is the idea behind the use of smart watches like pebble.
Inbox is also on my tablet but isn’t used that much due to the effects of the slow loading.
This morning I awoke to find that there was a new update (Beta) for my pebble. When I checked what was new I saw that it allowed for custom responses which is a big improvement. This means that there is some over lap of features between the Pebble app and Awear although I still think that having both working at the same time is the best option. I installed it anyway has I like the latest in anything. At first I didn’t see much difference apart from the custom responses but then I found there was a problem. Notification from Inbox are no longer working (reported), there seems to be one or two other issues looking at G+ so I expect another update in the next day or so to fix these issues.
A little while later I had an email with an Ello invite, I have been waiting for this for a while and really pleased that it has come through. In case you don’t know, Ello is a social network with major difference to Facebook which appears to respect the privacy of the user and no ads. I don’t know how they expect to pay for the service but I have been told that they expect to offer additional features for an annual subscription. We will see but in the mean time I have accepted the invite and will try it out over the next few months. Looks promising!
Most nights sees me checking my phone for updates, largely so that I can do the updates at home on wifi (and no, I am still not doing the gmail update on my phone because I still think it totally sucks!).
When I checked last night I found a new Beta was available so downloaded it to try out the new features. The biggest of these was the ability to reply with simple emoji’s as well as other functions for dealing with emails. Text messages seem to just have reply and no other option which really isn’t much use although I suspect that this will change. Although this functionality is welcome it is somewhat limited compared to Awear with its pre done replies (still a limitation but is still useful). The functions that are bow available are dismiss (as before), and then there are more. Now delete has been added (always be careful with this one!), reply with emoji’s only. These replies are OK but I am really not keen on them. I prefer the written word! I am sure there are other functions and stuff but I haven’t found these yet.
Yet, despite the limitations it is hoped that they can be further developed to allow the user to add there own pre-written replies that they use most often. Yet, despite the features added, the Pebble watch remains remains a watch and not a wrist computer (like all the more expensive ones). To be honest, I don’t see these new functions making it that awear becomes obsolete as awear still as so much more to offer (but only when it is able to reliably connect to google which is the main issue at the moment).
I was also recently pleasantly surprised to see pebbles appear in Currys when I stopped by for something else. It was hinted that accessories where also going to be stocked but we will have to wait and see. There was only one watch and display with all the other suspects as well and it was the one that had the most easily read screen!
Update: after some more use and getting used to the newer functions I have found that there are preset replies but these still are somewhat restrictive and to improve there needs to be some way add more personal ones that are more suited to the user.
There as recently been a load of updates put out by google for their various apps in preparation for or to get people used to, Android L. I have really liked most of them, nice clean look although the colour scheme seems to be somewhat bland, this I presume is to not distract the user from the content they want to look at. However, the new Gmail app not only has a horrible new look but one or two new features that suck to the extreme.
I am off course talking about the additional feature to add other accounts, nothing wrong with that as some people will like it and make use of. What as prompted me to rant and write is because there is no choice in the addition of other accounts. I found that they were just added with no consent of the user/owner of the device. It really sucks that the user who decides and wants to keep everything separate has no choice! I have decided therefore not to use the app on my tablet on which I updated and not to install the update on my phone.
I will hopefully find a solution to fix this and write an update when I find the solution on how to stop the app from adding other email accounts without my consent.
The good news however is that I have managed to get an invite to googles inbox which I already consider far better than the actual gmail app ever was.