iPad 2 review – first impressions from an Android user’s perspective

Neither of us could wait till Christmas to play with our Christmas present – an iPad 2. As Android phone users you would have expected us to have bought an Android tablet. But when hubby went to the shops to have a play he fell head over wallet with the fruity alternative.

This week I have been rather busy with our daughter’s seventh birthday so I haven’t had much time to play. But I want to share my first impressions.

I love it. I can’t tell you whether I would have loved the Samsung Galaxy tablet more, but despite my gripes I do love it and don’t have any regrets.

We are currently in setup mode. We need to find a good Twitter chat app and more importantly we need to resolve the shared device problems re account logins, email etc. But I am loving Flipboard – a magazine style presentation of your Twitter and FB feeds only available on the iPhone and iPad.

So what don’t I like?

There is is only one button and it takes you home. I am used to a back, menu and cursor control buttons on my Android phone. I don’t want to always goes back to the very beginning, I want to be able to change settings within the app and it’s incredibly fiddly to position the cursor exactly where you want it when typing – there is though a solution, you just have to long press and the near vicinity is magnified making it possible to move the cursor one letter at a time – but I don’t think it’s as easy as having a physical button.

The keyboard is also very annoying. Aside from missing long press to active shift, the apostrophe is on screen two – though it is accessible if you long press the exclamation key but this is a well kept secret as there is nothing on the key to tell you this. It also frustrates me that the keyboard doesn’t change when you change case. But I do like that the ‘return’ key is context sensitive, changing to display ‘go’ or ‘search’ and I like the keyboard hide button. So I’d really love to be able to change the keyboard but I’m pretty certain that’s an Android advantage feature – i.e. not possible.

And my final gripe is the browser. I don’t want the mobile web version I want the desktop version. I am very much hoping that this is something we can change.

Having originally posted a near identical post on G+, fellow similarly named Geek Mummy said that my review was a fair assessment. Most depressing was that there is no magic solution to the multi-user shared device problem. So I am very interested in hearing people’s work arounds.

Solving HTC Desire low disc space issues

I love my HTC Desire mobile phone, but for the last few months we have been at war. It started with a Low Disc Space warning. I retaliated by ensuring every app that could be moved to SD card was moved. I cleared the cache and even for some apps the data – which was a pain as I had to re-enter passwords.

I researched and convinced myself I would root my phone, but I chickened out and opted for a Factory Data Reset. Even that was nerve racking.

But something had to be done as in addition to the low disc space messages, I was also getting warning messages that my phone wasn’t functioning properly – not surprising when you have less thank 500kb free!

So Friday night I performed a factory data reset available through settings. The reset was really quick and it took only about an hour to re-enter passwords, install apps etc.

During my research I found that people recommend a data reset after a firmware upgrade, though rooting is the best long term solution.

I have resigned myself to the idea that I may have to reset frequently but it’s only until June when I upgrade, and now that I’ve done it once, I know it’s no big hassle. At least I can go back to using it as a smartphone now that I have room to reinstall Tweetdeck and G+ and a couple of days later I am pleased I took the plunge and wish I had to had the courage do reset sooner.

TIP: Check the apps you want to keep, there may be an option to export data to your SD card. You will still have to reinstall each app from the Marketplace (which remembers which apps you have bought) but at least any data associated with that app will be saved – though will probably still have to re-enter your passwords. And, if you have synchronised your contacts with your Google account they will magically reappear once you’ve re-synchronised.

So don’t delay take the plunge – but you will still have to be harsh on which apps to reinstall, especially if you want resource hungry apps like G+ and Facebook.

How Google could make G+ the perfect blogging platform

In my previous blog post about Google+ I was giddy with Geeky lust. I predicted that G+ could replace Facebook, Twitter and Blogging.

Three weeks later I stand by my post. However, what I really mean is that G+ will become THE blogging tool. At least it will if Google implement the following enhancements:

  1. add G+ auto-save and a draft feature rather than having to faff about using a drafts circle
  2. add the the ability to categorise G+ posts as a blog post. Ideally you would be able to have multiple blogs
  3. produce a a blogging product (enhance Blogger?) that integrates fully with G+. So, when a post is categorised as a blog post it appears on the blog as well as within G+. And it can be done vice versa, so a blog post will automatically post into G+, not as a link but in full
  4. the killer feature would be to combine comments. So comments left via G+ would appear on the blog and vice versa.

If Google implement these features it would be simply amazing. Don’t you think?

How Google+ will replace Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Email & eBay

Google+ is the social media toy of the moment. So far most people seem to think that it might even be so awesome that it could topple Facebook.

I have been lucky enough to have received an invite from @R2UK and below are my thoughts so far as to how Google+ might take over the world and replace blogs, Twitter, Facebook, email and eBay.

Quick Google+ Overview

I’m aware that most people don’t have Google+. In fact most people I know haven’t even heard of it.

Therefore, if you are one of those people, think of Google+ as being rather like Facebook but with greater privacy control settings. You add friends into circles and when you post you can specify whether to make your post public, visible to only certain people, circles or extended – your friends and their circles.

It also has a number of extra features which have cute names like huddle and hangout.

How Google+ will take over the world

Well it’s not going to happen overnight but I like what I’ve seen and once Google+ opens its doors to everyone it will be very interesting to see what happens.

Replacing Blogs & Twitter

It seems to me that sending a public post is similar to posting on Twitter or writing a blog post.

There is some loss of functionality but I am guessing that will come with time e.g. there is no concept of Twitter hashtags.

Also I only seem to come across public posts when one of my friends comments on a post. But the viral marketing opportunities are plenty.

Replacing Facebook

For private posts like photos of the kids or what you did last night, you simply post to certain circles.

But even better is that you can use your circles to only tell those groups of people who you think are interested in certain things – or to exclude certain people from seeing your posts, like your parents or your boss.

And the mute button which turns off notifications for that post is just pure genius – it will I’m sure get used a lot.

Replacing Email

Instead of email, you just post to people or circles.

Again the mute button will be very useful, but it will be both fab and annoying. Great for if you get fed up with the constant difficulty some people have distinguishing between the reply all and reply button. Annoying if someone replies with the expectation that you are listening.

Google+ is definitely the first tool to really put some meat to the idea that email will cease to exist in the future.

Replacing eBay

The cost of selling on Ebay has rocketed. We now use a local Facebook group to buy and sell for free.

Extended posts could be for buying or selling. Where you hope that if your friend is friends with this person it will mean that they won’t rip you off. Only problem is that because the circles work as they do, people will be more relaxed about adding everyone. So I think the extended circles will be less trusted than the same concept in other social media tools.

Do you have a Google+ account? What do you think of it so far? Could you ever see yourself giving up blogging, Twitter, Facebook, email or eBay for Google+?

Three Cheers for Satellite Navigation – Getting home from Virginia Water / Savill Garden

This is my first official Three Cheers Blog Hop post. If it wasn’t for my Sat Nav I quite possibly could still be lost. Even with my Sat Nav I still experienced that moment of panic – would I make it back in time for the school run?

You have to understand that I am a clear contender for the most navigationally challenged person that has ever lived. Geeky Hubby asks me for directions and then goes in the opposite direction.

But back to my story. I arranged to meet a couple of mummy friends at Virginia Water. It really is a stunning place to visit and I highly recommend it – though at the time of writing this post it is a disappointing geocaching location.

I have been before. I know where to park. But as I’ve only been a few times I still needed the Sat Nav.

However, right at the last minute it was suggested that we park at Savill Garden instead. The reason being that it has free parking for the first 90 minutes, a cafe with toilets and a play park. Where we normally park for Virginia Water in contrast doesn’t have a proper cafe, toilets are at the far end of the car park in a pub, there is no playground for the kids and no free 90 minute parking.

Savill Garden is still Virginia Water, just a little further up (from our direction). This was my first time and I was rather nervous about finding the right place. We were running a little late and I didn’t have time to properly research our new destination, but it was clearly signposted and I managed to get there without too many problems. OK, in truth, I did pull over and double check exactly where to park, but for me that is as close to perfection for travelling somewhere new as I will ever get.

I have to say we had a completely fantastic morning. We didn’t go into Savill Garden as you have to pay extra, but a very short walk takes you to the playground. The kids played in the sandpit, went down the slide, ran around lots and fed the ducks. We finished off with a second mortgage style over priced lunch/snack in the cafe – except for the hot chocolate which was worth every penny. Best of all the toilets were immaculate.

Catching up with friends was obviously priceless.

So far so good.

After a much longer stay than planned it was time to leave. This is where my Sat Nav stars. I had absolutely no idea how to get home. You have to exit using a different route. Then I got distracted, ignored my Sat Nav and suddenly realised I had no idea where I was or how to get home.

I put my faith in electronic hands, concentrated and after a few twists, turns and a drive through a lovely village, we made it to a set of traffic lights with a signpost clearly stating that we were about to turn onto the A30 – the road home. Hurrah. The relief was immense.

Once home I listened to the voicemail on my mobile. It was an ‘I’m lost, no idea where I am, hope you have your Sat Nav with you’ message from one of the other mum’s. Don’t worry, she texted me later to confirm that she too had managed to find her way home.

I don’t like driving new places as I have no sense of direction. Sat Nav enables me to be a little bit daring. To visit somewhere new. So Three Cheers to whoever invented Sat Nav – you have saved my bacon on many an occasion, including today, and make my life much easier every time I use it – which is at least weekly.

I would though like to know if anyone has any recommendations as to the best way to use an Android phone as a Sat Nav. I used Navigation that comes with the phone. I worry that if I don’t have a good 3G signal I will lose the maps. Is this a valid concern? Is there a better app? I love that it integrates with my Google contacts but currently keep my Garmin on hand just in case.



Added your Three Cheers Blog Hop post? Please give some comment love and add this linky to your blog post – full instructions provided.

As this is a WordPress.com blog it means the linky appears on a separate page. So I will manually add all links to the bottom of this post.

Three Cheers Blog Hop – Thanks for inventing

There are some people that have yet to be convinced as to why they should have a mobile phone, use Twitter, Facebook a slow cooker etc. Three Cheers Blog Hop is here for you to link up your blog posts which say ‘thank you‘ to the inventor and to everyone else ‘you really should have one of these‘.

Rules

I reserve the right to change the rules as I go along but basically I will set up the blog hop every Saturday morning starting Staurday 2nd July 2011 – providing this generates enough interest.

Just add your blog post to the linky.

As I am wordpress.com and can’t display the linky on the blog post, I will add all links that have been submitted to the bottom of my post – so you will have your link on the linky and on my blog post.

Please either add the linky code to the bottom of your post (instructions will be available) or add a link back to that week’s Three Cheers Blog Hop post.

Sponsored posts are fine so long as they have genuinely gotten you out of a hole (not literally) or prevented a disaster and are written from that angle and not just as a review of the product.

I’ll use the hash tag #tcbh short for Three Cheers Blog Hop. It’s short, hopefully easy to remember and isn’t at time of writing this already being used.

Hopefully after a few weeks you’ll get the idea. I have a previous blog post that I wrote on this idea, but without the blog hop, titled – Social Media Success – Facebook status update reveals show buying secret.

Let me know what you think. If you have any questions or tips on running a weekly blog hop please let me know.

Geocaching – Treasure Hunting using your Smartphone

Legal notice: Geeky Mummy is not liable for dog poo covered shoes, bramble scratches or muggle stares that you will incur as a result of reading this blog post.

Trust me, geocaching is brilliant fun. The idea is simple.

Someone hides a container called a cache somewhere for other people to find – typically they are hidden in trees and bushes. The cache varies in both size and contents but usually contains a log book for the finder to sign and some treats – think party bag toys. Finders are meant to swap rather than just take.

To find a cache you put your postcode into the geocaching.com website and hey presto, a list of nearby caches to find. Each cache has GPS co-ordinates.

So if you have a smartphone, the only additional expense is the purchase of a geocaching app. The official Groundspeak Geocachcing app is around £6. But if you have an Android phone and read the comments, you will see that everyone recommends that you use c:geo instead. It’s free and having used it I can confirm it really is very good and you can’t beat free.

We have been geocaching for about a month. Geeky Daughter loves the whole treasure hunting side if it and to be honest so do I – hubby would argue that I am obsessed but as we have been out far more than we would have otherwise I think it is at worst a healthy obsession. 16 month old Geeky Son however is not so keen, especially as he often has to be confined to his buggy to prevent him from grabbing brambles.

The biggest misconception I had about geocaching was that it would involve long walks in the countryside. Whilst this can be true, there are lots of caches in cities and residential areas, on the back of road signposts. We have quite a few in the local playgrounds and parks that are only minutes away from where we live.

So if this has sparked your interest – check out the geocaching.com website. There is a great little video on the home page that visually explains geocaching as well as the postcode search page (I recommend that when it lists the results you click on the Map this location link).

Oh and in case you are wondering, a Muggle is someone that doesn’t geocache in addition of course to not being able to do magic.

Happy geocaching. I’m a relative newbie, but let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

I have written the blog post simply because we love geocaching and think you’ll love it too.

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