Monday, March 18, 2013

365 Great Nighttime Kid Activities

Do you look for interesting things to do each evening with your kids?

I love the great page on Pinterest -

Amy Grant has created some really cool summer time activities...

We have adoopted many of the activities and added a few of our own :)

1.  Glowstick Baths... One of our favorites:

A great post from a Pinterest community member :)

2. Straw Rockets - this was great - decorate the rockets, shoot them off with straws, also from Amy's Pinterest page/blog:

3.  Dissolving Lollipops - Two lollipops, one in a jar of hot water and the other in cold water... see which one dissolves faster, and talk about why :)

(insert picture)

4.  Glowstick lanterns - A great idea which we have been doing for a while.  You can see a nice writeup at:

We like to put corn starch in the jars and use semi-transparent bottles - makes it almost ethereal.

Things to try:

1.  Glow cones to catch fireflies

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What is the best dialer/contact manager/speed dial for iPhone?

I had a hard time finding a quick answer to this question, so I have knocked around the web, downloaded a bunch of hits that come up in the App Store when you search "Dialer" and tested few dialer/contact managers/speed dialers.

The first issue is that it appears that, unlike in the Android Ecosystem, there is no consistent naming convention.  In Android, I used GoContacts and had read about DialerOne as a very strong alternative.  GoContacts was fairly straightforward to use and gave me 4 pages of contacts (Favorites, Family, Local Friends, Long Distrance Friends) that I used religiously to dial.  Sometimes, I voicedailed who I wanted, but sometimes I wanted to scan the list of friends for who I had been out of touch wtih for a while.  GoContacts (for Android) did this perfectly:

 (from GoContacts on PlayGoogle)

You can read more here:

On iPhone, I felt like I was in a relative Sahara of information. I found the Favorites list on the iPhone contacts anemic, and struggled with groups (I know how to do it, but so slow!).

After much investigation, I found a few apps that fit the bill, with the help of lifehacker once again, but interestingly, they did not mention the ones below (I don't think):

Lifehacker reviewed 4 products, one of which make my personal top 4 list of what i am currently using/piloting.  My choices, in order of preference:

1.  iGroup Contact (iTunes App Store, 4.7 stars as of 12/26/2012, $0.99 to create unlimited groups) - Wow. This app is over the top cool.  Create and organize Groups on the "Groups" tab.  It is super simple. Just drag the contacdt from the ALL tab to the tab of your choice. It works very smoothly. Plus, you can view "SmartGroups" - By Birthday, Place of Work, etc. It is completely great. The Favorites tab gives you 9 speed dial icons

iPhone Screenshot 2  iPhone Screenshot 1
(from the iTunes Store iGroup Contacts + Speed Dial page)

2. GODial Speed Dial with Facebook for iPhone (iTunes App Store, 5 stars as of 12/26/2012, free) - Fantastic app that lets you create multiple groups of speed dials with little effort. short touch on the icon, and it dials your preferred #.  Long touch and you view the contact.  (works very similarly to the best Android dialers).   Looks as such:

iPhone Screenshot 1 (from GoDial app page in the iTunes store)

Works great for me!

3.   FaceButtons Free - Great app and killer advantage is that it creates buttons right on your home screen (vs. in an app speed dial, which is what almost all other apps do).

4.  Genius Dialer (usually $2, now $0.99) - Seems to work very similarly to #1 and #2 and gets good reviews.

NOTE:  Without jailbreaking your phone, you CANNOT replace the default dialer on the iPhone.  You can only access this via the icon.  That is the advantage of FaceButtons Free above (#3) - it will put actual icons on your screen for speed dials.

Other programs that seemed to have significant issues/limitations for me:

X 5.  Faces Visual Photo Dialer Lite (free) - This one works a lot like #1, but only 2 pages of contact speed dials are allowed, and it is a little less friendly in terms of dialing/options.  I setup different icons for my wife's work/mobile (though after some futzing, I think this was overkill), and so on.  But the two page limitation was frustrating, as I have four distinct pages of contacts I would like access to.

X 6.  FaceDial Visual Dialer (free) - Much like Faces Visual Photo Dialer, this app can create shortcuts, etc. but I cannot figure out how to either speed dial OR open the contact...  it only seems to speed dial (there is no way to "long click" to open the contact).

X  7.  MyPhone+ for Facebook (free) - this is actually the most attractive, visually, but many reviews complain it duplicates your Facebook contacts (that would be bad).

X 8.  Tacts (identified as the best choice by lifehacker) - does not work with iOS6/iPhone 5, apparently, so not an option for me :< Hope they can fix it and I can try it out.  Seems to have similar features, benefits, and price ($0.99) compared to iGroup (see #1 above).

X 9.  iSmart Dialer (again, identified by lifehacker) - Recent posts indicate bugs and some features missing (no recent call logs, deletes contacts).

X 10. Takephone Gold (identified by lifehacker) - Recent posts indicate that Takephone does not work well with recent iOS versions.

Do you have more info on any of these or do I have the "skinny" on one of them wrong?  Please let me know... Trying to help iPhone users and those migrating from Android have a smoother transition!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Free Up Android Internal Memory Without Rooting

I'm a technophile, but complicated explanations on getting my phones to work are tough for me to understand and do.  That's why I so love Michael James Williams' post on how to free memory up on your Android without rooting.  You can find it here:

1.  Check your free space - Settings - Applications -  Manage Applications.  You should know what you have before you start.

2.  Eliminate wasted space due to the bloated Contacts Bug.  This got me 30MB!  He has a great explanation on how to do this on the link above.

3. Move Applications to the SD Card. To do it in an automated way download Android Assistant, and use Tools, App2SD.  It will automatically tell you if any apps can be moved to the SD card.  This saves you a lot of time vs. checking each application one by one. Still, if you want to do it manually:   In step 1, Manage Applications, you can click on an App and select move to SD Card.  If "Move to SD Card" is greyed out, or it says "Move to Phone", you can't move it to the SD Card.
3b. Delete unwanted applications.  Remember that apps that are on your phone take up valuable space.  Make choices!

4.  Clean your Cache and System.
a.  Download Android Assistant (which includes App2SD).  (if you didn't already do this in Step 3). Once downloaded:
b.  Go to App 2 SD (Android Assistant - Tools - App2SD - it is the last app on the bottom right corner for me). It will tell you what you can move to the SD card automatically.
c. Under tools, run the Cache Cleaner
d. Under tools, run the System Clean

Two additional steps that were not in Michael James Williams' post, but worked for me very well:
5. Delete the Trash on your email folders on your Desktop - I can't believe it, but this got me almost 20MB alone.  Apparently, deleted messages on your web inboxes clog your Android mailbox.  Set the defaults on your Desktop (if you are willing) to automatically empty your trash.  This will keep more memory free on your Android.

6.  Delete old text message strings - Again, this was very effective.  I don't clear out old text messages, and often people send me photographs.  Long text strings can take a lot of memory.

Steps 1-6 got me 60 MB alone!  If that isn't enough for you, continue at step 5:

7. Force Applications to allow moving without rooting - I didn't do this, but you can read how here:

If all this doesn't work, consider rooting.  I have been looking into this, and it is not simple (from what I have read), but it will give you valuable memory by allowing you to move applications to the SD card that otherwise cannot be moved (without rooting) and delete pre-loaded programs from HTC/Android you don't want to use.  To read about rooting:

 Have other ideas?  Please share!