Welcome to the Sep 01, 2012 issue of
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|TODAY'S TOPIC: READY FOR PRIME TIME... OR NOT?||
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Just a day after sending the previous issue of CompuNerds.Net-News, something wierd happened: my HP notebook computer got fried! I turned it off at night, and the next morning it wouldn't start... only the power light came on, the Caps Lock light kept flashing on and off,and the fan was running. It wouldn't even begin the boot sequence. Later I popped out the hard drive and put in an old drive that I knew worked, but the same thing happened. Then I put the hard drive from my notebook in a USB external drive case, plugged it into my wife's notebook, and found out that my hard drive would spin up, but was totally unreadable. The most likely cause I can think of is that I wasn't in the habit of unplugging my notebook from its power supply at night, but my wife always unplugs hers from its power supply. So a thunderstorm with nearby lightning could have fried my PC, but not hers.
That same afternoon my new Galaxy Nexus smartphone arrived from Google. This more than made up for the loss of my old notebook. I inserted the T-Mobile $30/month SIM card I had ordered for 100 minutes of talk time and unlimited web including 2Gb of 4G access, logged in with my Gmail login and password, and presto! - all of my email messages were right there! Then my Google+ stream and my Google Books collection also appeared. That evening the smartphone automatically updated to the latest version of Android: 4.1 "Jelly Bean." Next I installed the apps for Skype, Facebook and LinkedIn, logged in and those accounts were up and running. It was almost like I had my notebook back, reincarnated into a hand-held phone.
The built-in cameras work great - the front-facing camera is for Google+ or Skype video calls, and the 5-megapixel one on the back takes high-definition photos (but I had to learn how to hold the phone steady with both hands when pressing the button to take pictures). By now I've installed a few more apps: Ancient Faith Radio, TuneIn Radio, the Russian CellBible, Netflix, Mapquest, Evernote, Google Drive, Chase Online, and Barnes & Noble Nook: I side-loaded my collection of 105 free ePub classic books into Nook's "My Documents" folder on the phone and began reading The Confessions of St. Augustine - it automatically puts a bookmark where you stop reading so you can return right where you left off... nice!
A few other nice features are the alarm clock, built-in tethering and mobile hotspot. The latter two mean I can connect a notebook computer to the smartphone's 3G/4G network, and have access to the Internet on a notebook PC when we're travelling. When I ordered a holster for the phone from Amazon, they suggested a charger for $5 that plugs into a car's cigarette lighter socket to bring the purchase over $25 so I could get free shipping. Naturally, I accepted the offer, and used the charger as we drove to Pittsburgh and back this week for a mini-vacation. Together with the charger, an old audio patch cord I had lying around worked great, letting us listen over the car stereo system while riding along the Interstate to some mp3 albums that I had earlier uploaded to Google Music. The earbuds with microphone that come with the phone are great for hands-free calling while driving, as well as for listening to Internet radio or podcasts when working out at the gym (which I did this morning).
So why did I title this e-newsletter "Ready for Prime Time... or Not?" What's "Not Quite Ready for Prime Time"? The built-in Google Music app plays your own uploaded albums - or those purchased from the Google Play store - just fine... except that when uploading from my music and podast collection in Real Player, Google Music rearranges the tracks into its own folder structure: if a podcast producer happened to use different spellings of his/her name ("Tom" and "Thomas", or "Dr. Clark" and "Clark"), or different spellings of the podcast title, Real Player doesn't mind - it retains my folder structure. But Google Music ended up with several of my music and podcast folders splattered all over the place. (Apple's I-Tunes program messes up your music the same way on your PC.) So before you use Google Music, be sure the album names, composer names, etc. in your audio files are all consistent, then uninstall Real Player and let Google Music manage your audio files.
Another "Not Quite Ready for Prime Time" Android app is "Navigation" that uses Google Maps to give you turn-by-turn navigation along the highway. It might be okay in most cases, but when we were heading back home from Pittsburgh, my wife was driving as we approached Chicago, so I fired up this app and it said, "Stay on I-90." My wife said, "Shouldn't we turn onto I-80 here?" And I said, "Stay on I-90!" BIG MISTAKE! We ended up in bumper-to-bumper traffic in downtown Chicago, taking us an extra two hours to get home! Sort of reminds me of my Do Smartphones Make You Stupid? issue on Sep. 17 last year: we still need to rely on our common sense and experience.
The Security Blurb:
Security expert Bruce Schneier wrote a fascinating article, The Psychology of Security, in which he explains his introductory paragraph: "Security is both a feeling and a reality. And they're not the same." You can actually be secure when you feel insecure, and you can also be insecure when you feel secure. Read the article!
The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!
"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"
Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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