I Love My Android Phone

First, I hate talking on the phone.  I do.  In my earlier years I loved it–LOVED it, but over the past few I’ve just morphed into a preference for texting and email and chat and anything but sitting or standing with a device plastered to my ear.  (Admittedly, the earphones with the built-in microphone does make it easier.)

Two years ago I got my first smart phone, which was an HTC Tilt running Windows Mobile 6.  It was cool for about six months, when I realized it was completely clogged up with crap.  I’m a long-time Windows user and I’ve never had a problem with a desktop or laptop, but this phone was a conundrum–no Windows updates?  What?  There was no easy way of clearing memory or deleting temporary files.  The sync never did work properly.  The touchscreen technically worked, but wasn’t sensitive enough to use my finger all the time and I generally fell back on the stylus.  And the thing weighed two pounds!  (Or felt like it did.)

The weight became a problem; it didn’t mix well with my running.  At first, I just left the phone at home.  But as my runs became longer and more frequent, my husband became uncomfortable with the idea of me not having a way to call for help should I need it.  That began a long line of accessory purchases as I looked for something that would accommodate the size of the phone without bouncing too much because of the weight.  (Nevermind that by this time, it had stopped making and receiving most phone calls.)

About a year ago, while attempting to clear out old text messages, I accidentally reset the phone to its factory defaults.  On a positive note, it suddenly began ringing again when someone called.  On a negative note, it lost all the contacts it had indicated were saved on the sim card.  C’est la vie.  I didn’t need to stay in touch with all those people anyway.  I began shopping for a new phone.

iPhone was out for a number of reasons and I had my heart set on an Android phone, but most importantly, I had my heart set on the finding the smallest smartphone on the market.  Enter the HTC Aria.   I starred it in my shopping notes as I looked for phones online and then went to AT&T stores twice to hold one and see just how small it was.  Most of the reviews mentioned the small size and that it could be difficult, but I now suspect those users were accustomed to much larger phones.  As soon as my phone upgrade was available, I made sure the Aria was on the way to me!  And I couldn’t be more pleased!

HTC Aria

The phone is so streamlined–and not just compared to my old clunker.  It’s thin and smooth and the screen takes up most of the phone, so it feels larger than it is.  The camera lens is sunken, so it doesn’t get scratched or dirty.  The buttons are all intuitively placed and not easy to mistakenly push.  The screen is sensitive, but not too sensitive.  AND ANDROID ROCKS.  It supports flash, its native browser behaves just like a full-sized browser, sync works and the phone can also be mounted as a simple disk drive, it allows multiple “desktops” that you can personalize however you see fit, the speech recognizer actually recognizes your speech–it has yet to make a mistake on anything I’ve said…I could go on and on. There’s even a drag and drop app creator and battery life is very good!)

I didn’t know a phone could change my life without really being used to call anyone.  Yes, I make a few phone calls a week, but I really use it as a very small computer without giving much thought to the phone function.  In fact, I’m more likely to use the wi-fi connection than the mobile internet.  I feel more connected to my friends and family, I feel more productive in my work, I feel more creative.  I feel safe on my runs because the Aria works well and is small enough that I don’t mind carrying it.  I highly highly recommend the HTC Aria and the Android OS (and its HTC Sense counterpart).  Barring tragedy or something even smaller, I may keep this phone forever!

Here are some other glowing reviews and Android fun stuff:

10 Things Android Does Better than iPhone

15 Awesome Android Acessories


Android Central

PC World’s 22 Best Android Apps

Bit Literacy in 2011

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I think they set you up for failure–except for the year I vowed not to sing any Sheryl Crow songs–and I’m not making a formal resolution for 2011. HOWEVER, I am going to attempt to work more efficiently next year using some of the methods found in a book called Bit Literacy.

The author, Mark Hurst, is right when he says most of us have too many bits coming in and too few going out and he is also right when he says most of the problem is a lack of organization dealing with 0s and 1s.  I am certainly guilty of using my email inbox for storage and an oversized to do list.  I’m also guilty of walking around with another to do list on a legal pad–that I have to transfer to another piece of paper when it gets too long or too many items get marked off.  And I’m also guilty of having dozens of small post-its stuck all over the place at my desk.

The gist of Bit Literacy is that you empty your email inbox every single day and that every email is read or skimmed, then put in its proper place.  A large part of “proper place” is a task or to do list.  Mr. Hurst suggests using his own service, goodtodo.com, to accomplish this task.  I am signed up for a trial and I do like the way it works.  I am also familiar with something called Remember the Milk and I’m going to check that out as well.  There appears to be a number of others, too, that I’ll likely peruse.  (I like to peruse.)  Since most of my tasks are going to be work-related, whatever application I use will have to be the easiest to use from my desk.

Bit Literacy also has organizational ideas for all other file storage, from pictures to text, and comes with a long list of recommendations.  Some are a bit elementary, like learning to type.  Others are a bit…optimistic.  The author suggests that most, if not all, documents be created in plain text and never really addresses the fact that Microsoft Word and other word processing software is used to make documents look a certain way.  I don’t think co-workers will appreciate getting long swaths of text from me or anyone else.  If humans wanted to read that way, Word wouldn’t have been created in the first place.

I have an efficient file system for personal and work media management, so I skipped most of Mr. Hurst’s recommendations for naming and locating files.  I also skipped his “media diet” section.  I have no intention of consuming fewer bits.  😉   I think overall the best ideas I’ll walk away with are those on email and to do list management.  I definitely plan to try them and hopefully I’ll be able to work more efficiently while also preserving records of the work I do.

(For the record, Mr. Hurst, I think it’s kind of crappy that you can download your book for free from the Apple iBookstore and everyone else has to pay.  Just sayin’.)

Favorite Android App: ICE – In Case of Emergency

ICE: In Case of Emergency – Appventive

This app by Appventive is so awesome for runners like me or anyone that has a medical condition, allergies, etc.  It’s basically the equivalent of a MedicAlert bracelet for your phone.  It lets you input information about your blood type, medications, diseases, and any other information you think would be important for emergency responders.  And it lets you input a number of contacts that can be called from inside the app.  I have mine on the home screen of my phone.

It doesn’t take the place of MedicAlert or something like Road ID, since you could be separated from your phone in an accident, but it’s sure nice to have.

My Digital Reading Revolution

I’m on year three and counting with my Kindle–and still using version 1, because the SD card is just too big a draw to me to upgrade. My Kindle was a Christmas gift from my husband back in 2007 and it took no time at all to load it up with books and kiss paper goodbye!

Kindle 1 with skin from Decal Girl

No, that’s not how it happened at all.

I love gadgets and reading, so I adored my Kindle from the beginning for being the best of both worlds. I had no idea when I opened the box that I would eventually get rid of hundreds–hundreds and hundreds–of paper books in favor of digital versions. But that’s exactly what happened. I was kind of a book hoarder, ahem…collector, and my small apartment was crammed with somewhere in the neighborhood of about 2,000 books. This was a huge problem whenever I had to move, because books took up about half the boxes and friends were always reluctant to move them. I generally moved all the books by myself first, then called friends in later to help with the rest.

The Kindle was such a book-like piece of plastic that it didn’t take long for me to begin considering a purge. This prospect was helped along by our looming halfway-across-the-country move. I started taking a good look at my shelves and mentally dividing books into categories:

  1. Sentimentally Attached
  2. Manuals
  3. Good but Unneeded
  4. Why Did I Keep It?

That fourth category was a no-brainer. Any book that I couldn’t see a reason to have went to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. I said goodbye to a couple hundred books that way straight off the bat.  The Manuals category was also fairly straightforward; anything that was still relevant stayed.  Then I went to work on category one: Sentimentally Attached. It took several months to choose books for this category, but when I was satisfied, that left me with the largest category: Good but Unneeded. These were given away to friends, mostly (thank you Myspace and Facebook). Those that couldn’t find homes were released into the wild.  When it finally came time to move, I managed to cull the sentimentally attached group even further, down to fewer than a hundred books.  Among them are a book that includes a note from my great-grandmother and several favorites from my childhood.  We ended up packing just a few boxes of books to bring with us.

I didn’t intend to stop buying paper books all together, but that’s what happened.  I replaced some of my paper books by buying digital versions from Amazon or downloading them for free from Project Gutenberg.  Mostly I just moved forward–all of my new books were Kindle books.  What’s weird is I still love visiting bookstores and perusing the books.  I just don’t buy anything.  I make mental notes of what looks good and then check Amazon to see if they’re available for Kindle.  My recent acquisition of an Android phone now lets me read my Kindle books on the phone and it allows me to share books with my husband on his Droid.  I don’t think I could ever go back to plain paper now.

One wish:  Kindle support of EPUB files…