My First Week with a Google Pixel

•November 2, 2016 • Comments Off on My First Week with a Google Pixel

When my Galaxy Note 7 was recalled I decided to replace it with a Google Pixel. My first thought was finally a pure Android phone that is free of bloatware. Though following the note 7screenshot_20161102-123100 my initial reaction was a bit underwhelming. I decided to go with the smaller version rather than the XL. Granted the bigger screen and battery were attractive but in my hand the phone felt too cumbersome. Also, contrary to what I’d like to tell myself, cost is an option and I wanted more storage than a bigger screen.

So what do I think after a week? I love it. This phone is slick, fast, and does everything I throw at it. Google has certainly made some wise design choices with the phone and it truly is the first Android iPhone. That doesn’t mean it is a good replacement for an iPhone because, let’s face it, you either want an iPhone or you don’t. What it means is, like an iPhone, everything works the way you’d expect. The fingerprint scanner on the back makes opening your phone fast and seamless. Add in some gestures that allow you to pull down notifications and or the app drawer and you’ll wonder how you did things the old ways. Even the Google Assistant works really well for me. Contrary to initial reports you do not have to put every search query in the form of a question, just a touch of the G icon will bring up the tried and true search bar. However just picking up the phone and saying, “Okay Google, play some B.B. King from Spotify,” has its own cool vibe. Much has been said about the camera and I can say I haven’t seen better pictures from a smartphone. Battery life has been great too. After the first couple of days when you’re setting things up and loading apps you then get a feel for what the battery will do. I can turn my phone on at six in th
e morning use it for a day of social media, email, text, and a little Pokémon Go, and still shut it off at ten o’clock at night  with some 30% left on the battery. So what’s my recommendation? If you have a 2 year old phone and are ready for an upgrade you should really consider it. You can get one through Verizon or one from the Google store that will work on any carrier. You really cannot get a better Android experience on any other phone.

Next Meeting December 15th, 10am – Noon

•September 26, 2016 • Comments Off on Next Meeting December 15th, 10am – Noon

dscf4203Hope you enjoyed our meeting last week!

Our next meeting will be a gadget show and tell – please bring whatever interesting tech you have to share with the group. Refreshments will be provided!

Join Our Next Meeting!

•September 7, 2016 • 2 Comments

Join us for TechTalk 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Thursday, September 22, on the 4th floor Lecture Room of Burton Barr Central Library. The topic of discussion will be photography!

The theme for our meetings this year is “Capture Your Library,” and our first meeting will focus on still photography.

Our keynote speaker will be Gordon Murray of Pixel Photography. This will be a hands-on workshop, so please bring a camera, and if you have it, a tripod.

Gordon will presenting a hands-on workshop covering photography basics with an emphasis on event photography. Attendees will learn skills that will better enable them to capture images of story times, makerspace events and other public programs for use in social media, grant reports, and award competitions.

Topics will include:

  • DSLR settings  – moving beyond auto settings to get the best color, brightness, sharpness, etc.
  • Composition  – making your photos more interesting
  • General shooting tips and technique
  • Etiquette
  • Hands-on practice

“Flash” Gordon Murray has over 30 years’ experience in professional photography. Past clients of his firm, Pixel Photo & Video, include IBM, Intel, Banner Health, ASU, Buick, Honeywell, Toyota, and Target.

His work can be seen here:

Videos Can Change Perception

•June 23, 2016 • Comments Off on Videos Can Change Perception

If you haven’t created a video for your library, there is no time like the present. Film as a medium has long since been a powerful channel to connect with audiences far and wide. It behooves any library to implement multimedia such as film into practices to share the libraries rich resources.  Harnessing the medium and incorporating it into the library’s digital presence is happening on a more regular basis.

From a recent PLA article:

“Consider using them in local PSAs, incorporate them into your talks and speeches, and play them at your next Friends meeting. The videos can also be created as a tool to request additional funding.”

As the article notes, “the possibilities are endless!”

Post courtesy Brianna Furcron, Digital Arizona Library (DAZL)

New Amazon Tap and Steam Link

•April 24, 2016 • Comments Off on New Amazon Tap and Steam Link

Earlier this year Vinny posted that the Amazon Echo was the one connected device you should own and that he and his wife like theirs. Late last month Amazon released the Amazon Tap and Echo Dot. Unlike the Echo, the Amazon Tap is portable because it runs on batteries and is smaller in size. It isn’t “always on” though. You have to press the microphone button on top of the device and then ask Alexa a question or give it a command. You do program it through the app like you do the Echo. It has access to the same apps on your smartphone and tablet that the Echo does.  Some reviewers have said that the sound quality isn’t as good but I like the sound quality. It comes with a charging cradle to charge it.If you do take it outside the home you have to have wifi, mobile hotspot, or use your cell phone data plan to use Alexa on it. You can use it as a bluetooth speaker without Alexa as well if you are away from internet access. The cost is $129.99. You can also purchase a sling for it for $19.99 which makes it easier to carry.That can’t be on the Tap when you charge it though.  The Echo Dot is the smallest and the cheapest in the family at $89.99. It works best with another bluetooth speaker or another device in the Echo family. It also has the same limitations as the Amazon Tap.

Last year Vinny also posted about the gaming PC that he built. What if you have a gaming PC with Steam on it but you want to play games on your TV in a different room? Last November Steam came out with the Steam Link. You attach it to your TV and connect it to your wifi network. Then it finds your computer with Steam installed on it that is on the same wifi network and shows you your installed games on your TV. You can then start playing on your TV.  They also came out with the Steam Controller last November. You can use it to play Steam Games on your PC or on your Steam link. Both retail for $49.99.

The ONE Connected Device to Own

•February 8, 2016 • Comments Off on The ONE Connected Device to Own
the amazon echo device

Amazon Echo

I know between this post and the last it may seem like I’m on a serious Amazon kick, and maybe I am. I spotted this article on Android Central and had to re-post. Why Amazon Echo Is the One Connected Device you Should Own

You may hear a lot about the Internet of Things and products like the Echo clearly fall in that group. I’ve owned mine for over a year now and in that time I’ve seen the software grow in abilities and new functions that keep me coming back to it time and time again. The latest addition of a link to Spotify coupled with what it already does with Amazon Prime music and you have a serious jukebox contender. Again your mileage may very if Amazon is not your go-to place for digital music, but if you are not streaming from Spotify then you should. Let us know in the comments some of your favorite tasks that your Echo handles.

The Day I Deleted the Kindle App

•January 4, 2016 • Comments Off on The Day I Deleted the Kindle App

kindleThe Amazon Kindle App was one of the first additions to my smartphone back in 2010. Today I removed it from my current phone. It has been replaced by my shiny new Kindle Paperwhite. For the longest time I was a strong proponent of having everything on my mobile device; all my books, music, streaming, games, you name it. The convenience of having a single device that can do everything is great, but sometimes a device that does one thing really well is the better choice. The Kindle Paperwhite is the e-Reader I have been waiting for. (Though no offense to all the Nook owners out there. They are great devices too, I just have 90% of my library in Amazon’s cloud.)

One problem with reading on a smartphone, or tablet for that matter, is that bright screen will eat up most of your device’s battery life. One look at the battery usage and you’ll see that the screen accounts for most of the use on any given day. An hour or more of reading could really have you hunting for your charging cable, especially as your device ages, to say nothing of the strain on your eyes. The e-ink screen on the Kindle, (or Nook GlowLight), is far easier on the eyes, even with the back-light on, plus it merely sips at the battery. There are a number of font types and sizes and the pages snap into view quickly. The size and weight make it perfect for one handed reading. It is even lighter than my smartphone. Storage is not a problem as eBooks take up so little space and with WiFi connected to the cloud my whole Kindle library is available at a touch.

There are 4 models of Kindles plus ones with special offers that reduce the cost so I urge you to take a look. Once I began using mine I had no problem removing the app from my mobile devices. Besides, I needed the space for more matching gem games.