Software Review: AMI’s DuOS

Recently I decided to replace my tablet and laptop with a Microsoft Surface 3 (more about it some other time). One of the deciding factors in choosing it as a device was the ability to run an Android system on demand.

How? AMI’s DuOS. This program allows you to launch android on a Windows machine, and on a Surface, it looks like a regular tablet experience. You can add the official Play Store easily, and then download and run all of the apps that you might want.

amiduos

There is a free 30 trial, with Version 1.1 (Jellybean) costing $10 US, and Version 2.0 (Lollipop) costing $15 US (currently about $20 CAD).  They do have frequent opportunities to win a full license, which I did, but I would have paid for the full license without any reservation. They have an active support forum, and some good videos as well.

The main issue that I’ve encountered so far is that sometimes it doesn’t launch full screen, but I think that it might have something to do with available memory. But, I’ve had fun exploring, and highly recommend this software for everyone who likes the Android system but also wants to run Windows.

Other Android emulators include:

And Digital Trends just published a AMI DuOS review as well.

App Review: Podcast Addict

I am a bit late to this party on this, but podcasts are great.

There is just something  about short form audio shows that is pretty great. I started with the incredible show Serial, and nothing has been the same since.

What became obvious once I started finding more shows to listen to is that I needed a way to manage them and keep track of new episodes without having to think about it.

podcast addictEnter Podcast Addict.

One of my wonderful co-workers suggested this app to me

Some of the features:

  • Keeps track of all of your podcasts
  • Get updates to easily download new episodes
  • Discover new podcasts by category or popularity
  • Have files automaticly delete themselves after you are finished listening
  • Back up your subscriptions

 

It is a bit difficult to figure out where all of the important settings, so here are some tips on getting it configured:

  • Settings > Update: includes the option to automatically refresh your list of podcasts.
  • Settings > Network: set to only download files via Wi-Fi
  • Settings > Playlist:
    • Automatic Playlist: adds newly downloaded episodes to your playlist
    • Add newer episodes first
  • Settings > Automatic Cleanup > Once listened to: deletes episodes once listened to
  • Menu > “+” lets you find new podcasts by “Search engine” or “Discover”

There are tons more settings, but those above are the ones that have helped me so far.

link to the play store

★★★★

Bonus: Sarah’s favourite podcasts:

  1. Invisibilia
  2. Stuff you missed in history class
  3. 99% Invisible
  4. Radiolab
  5. This American Life
  6. Serial

App Recommendation: Mint

As a Vancouver resident who has spent quite a few years in post-secondary education, even with a excellent job, budgeting is necessary.

And technology is here to help with this.

mint2

I found out about Mint at one of our staff “App Chat” sessions, and then proceeded to forget about it until recently.

There are levels to using the service, but basically you link your banking information and let it sort transactions into categories to aid in the budgeting process.

Mint is easy and intuitive in design. And even if you use it only to keep track of expenditures, it is likely to be very useful.

One consideration about this app/service (and ones like it) is that you are putting a lot of trust in a third party. This is something that many have decided to allow, but make sure to use a strong password.

mint

★★★★

 

Continuous Learning

I am all about professional development (which is a bit obvious, I’m sure), and I like to live my soapbox rantings.

In addition to workplace based professional development, such as webinars, workshops, conferences, and feeds/journals, there is also learning things by living them.

It is really hard to learn new technologies (Reader’s Advisory, Excel) if you aren’t using the skills you are being taught. But that doesn’t mean that learning can be avoided!

Next year I’ll be offering a “Getting Started with Instagram” session,but before I found out that, I had never used Instagram before!

So I created a learning plan.

Over my summer vacation my goal was to post one photo to instagram a day , follow 3 people, and practice the idiosyncratic tagging system.

my instagram landing page

It wasn’t a strenuous task, I do enjoy taking photos, and playing with social media is a lot of fun for me. But sometimes I do need to learn things that already 100% to my tastes.

What setting up learning goals for yourself consider:

  1. Do I need to be an expert?
  2. What will I be doing (teaching a class, running the library’s account, or gathering ideas for programming)?
  3. How do I learn (playing around, watching tutorials, reading instructions)?

Then set something up that works for you. Make sure to have goals, and an end point – when will you know that you are done?

In this case I am finished learning (for now) since I found a way to integrate Instagram into my social media workflow. I will likely dive in a little deeper when I get closer to my class.

Try creating a personal learning plan for yourself this fall!

App Recommendation: Aviate

I love my Android phone. It is my second smartphone and I love the app selection, the add-ons, widgets, and having options to make it look the way I want it to.

A couple of days ago I started hearing about an android launcher by Yahoo!

Which, I hesitated over because, Yahoo!. But the temptation was strong and I installed it.

It was a good choice. The 3(.5) screens and the way that you interact with them is intuitive, interesting, and almost fun.It completely replaces your android home screen.

The centre “Home Screen” keeps you base screen, a(n unobscured) picture you choose, and if you swipe up you get to text or call your favourite contacts.

To the right you get to set-up app bundles (you can re-arrange the order, as well as adding and removing apps) for easy access. Topics include entertainment, productivity, social, news, games, sports…. While you can’t name the topic folders, they are flexible enough to show you all of the apps you want whenever you need them. To the right of that you get all of your apps in A-Z order (yay!).

To the left, is the learning screen you get your widgets here, news, weather, and “today” this uses technology magic to you when you are at home, at work, on the move, in an area with restaurants etc. and then serves you information and apps appropriate to your task and location. And to the left are settings and help.

It is a lot of fun, and a very useful way of organizing your phone.

★★★★★

(Try it!)

 

Favourite Apps: WiFi Analyzer

app icon for wifi analyzer Another useful utility app, WiFi analyzer is a great little app that helps you decide which channel is best for your WiFi.

From the CNET review “A Wi-Fi channel is a range of radio frequencies that a Wi-Fi network uses to communicate with wireless devices. There are a finite number of accessible channels, so when several Wi-Fi networks occupy a small area, channels will often get overloaded, and that’s bad.” Read more

This app comes in handy when you live in apartment, or when you discover that all of the routers in your workplace are set to the same channel.

Every tech nerd (or person who might be responsive for wireless networks) should have this app.

★★★★

Link to app page: http://a.farproc.com/wifi-analyzer | Android App

Favourite Apps: Pocket

pocket icon

There are lots of apps that I find fun or useful. Pocket is an app that is both.

Also available as a web app, you can save webpages, images, and videos for offline reading/viewing. Mark items as read and they disappear from view – but if there is an internet connection, you can retrieve archived items. Pocketed items can be tagged into categories for easy retrieval as well.

I find this app incredibly useful when reading long articles, or when I might want to do some bus reading. Articles can be viewed as they would be online, or as a PDF-like “readable”view.

An account is required, but you can export your pocketed information, and with very few clicks clear your data and delete your account.

★★★★★

Link to Pocket’s Site: http://getpocket.com/ | Android App | iTunes App

 

Keeping Up to Date

Part of being a library professional (not limited to someone who holds an MLIS), especially one employed in a position that deals heavily with technology, is keeping up-to-date on developments in the field.

In fact, for my position, keeping up to date is part of my job:

“Keeps abreast of developments in emerging technologies, digital library interface capabilities and enhancements and trends in user behaviour and the consumer technology marketplace…”

Staying up to date in a library might once have been possible with journals and conferences, but now with new developments and announcements, news is something you need to stay on top of every day. This allows you to know about new gadgets before patrons bring them in, know about changes to databases before they happen so that you can prepare, and know what to order when new products hit the market.

Before starting my Lib Tech Diploma I depended on a well organized list of links in my browser that I would visit, one at a time, hoping that I would catch interesting updates. Discovering RSS feed readers was a game changer. The ability to have website updates delivered to one place, was wonderful. I recommended using a feed reader to everyone that I thought might be interested (and even those who might not be). I am a huge fan of RSS.

Fast forward to 2013 and Google’s announcement that they are powering down Google Reader. I get it. It isn’t a product that provides revenue for them, and perhaps it isn’t as well used as their other free products. But those who do use it are news junkies, and news junkies can be technology writers. When you sunset a product loved by writers, you hear about it. The best commentary on the event is this Economist article Utilities: Google’s Google problem.

While upset about the news, I immediately started looking for an alternative service. For the last two weeks I have been using Feedly almost exclusively. It has been very good, the interface is great, and even though it is currently just syncing with Google Reader, the company promises to be ready to standalone come June. The app is also available on Android (and iOS), but on my tablet there is a weird caching lag that makes paging through articles a bit difficult.

If Feedly doesn’t sound like the RSS feed reader for you, Gizmodo helpfully listed 8 Google Reader Alternatives. There should be at least one there that works – The Old Reader looks nice, but it is having some difficulties keeping up with the increased number of users.

But it is important to stay up to date, and RSS is still the best way to manage news, since updates wait for you- unlike Twitter.

Agree? Disagree?