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Favorite Video Podcasts July 11, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Society, Technology.
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Video podcasts. It is a tough medium, I think. With audio, you can start with a TV show or you can just talk. But to make a good video podcast, it requires a lot more effort and editing. I think there are probably a lot of good ones out there, but here are a few of my favorites.

imgres-1The first and most obvious one has to be TED Talks. If you have already seen a few of these talked which I often repost here, you will know why. If you have never seen a TED Talk, you need to climb out from your rock and open your mind to the variety of 18 or less minutes speeches and presentations that are designed to entertain, enlighten and engage. You can find my favorite, reposted talks HERE. (Even though I may repost a higher percentage of them, not all the talks are about politics. They are often the most thought provoking in today’s divided world.)

imgresAnd on the other end of the spectrum, is a podcast called The Apple Byte with Brian Tong as the host. Primarily focused on the world of Apple products, the show covers what is going on in the consumer technology sector including rumors or even mistakes that Apple is dealing with. It has some good insights and the host is a pretty entertaining character. I also have to give props to Brian’s other show which should on this list too. Prizefight pits two of the top gadgets in different categories and they get reviewed side by side. This a good show to check out if you are looking to buy a new toy.

imgres-2Tekzilla has gone from a show to a franchise. There are various different shows under the Tekzilla and Revision 3 umbrella, but I seem to be stuck watching the main show. It offers great variety of coverage of news and questions from listeners. It discusses do it yourself projects, reviews and how to make the most of your technology. The three primary hosts include Veronica Belmont, Robert Heron and Patrick Norton. One challenge I have for you if you decide to watch this one is to try not counting the number of times Patrick says, “It is kinda funny (or interesting), right.” Good luck!

hsw_pos-257x45Are you a conspiracy theorist? I am not, but I often wonder if we are always getting all the information from our media sources. There is so much out there on the Internet. Many ideas and many crazy people. I don’t have time to research and look into every crazy idea out there, but the Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know is video podcast provides interesting insights and introductions into the conspiracy theories that are out there. They cover things like UFOs, the NSA, and The Free Masons.

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imgres-3And for my last recommendation, I have to give a tie, but not because these two are equally good. It is because they are the same. For anyone that remembers the Seinfeld episode where they were casting the stars for the show they were trying to pilot, you will get this “joke”. Originally, there was a site called Engadget run by three brilliant hip technologists. They had a some disagreements with their new parent company and decided to go out on their own and start a similar site called the Verge. They started their own tech journalism site along with a regular show called On The Verge. Well, The Engadget Show lives on but they had to cast copied, literally copied down the host with the same beard, the same team. The shows seem to be released on the same schedule and often cover similar topics, but in much different ways. Both are good and fun to watch and provide lots of good insight into the technology and gadget world.

Favorite Audio Podcasts July 9, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Politics, Society, Technology, Work.
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There is so much good content online. You could read, watch and listen to anything and everything at any time. I have a hour long drive to work and from work. Rather than just listen to talking heads or bad radio, I download and listen to content as often as I can. I also listen when I work in the yard or exercise, but I still have growing library of information that seems to multiply everyday on my computer.

Here are a few of my favorites. Like I said, there are many more, so if you have one that I haven’t listed, please let me know.

lifehacker Lifehacker. They have a great web site and once a week, they release an hour long podcast that covers the latest news, hints and listener questions. If you are looking for a way to improve your life in any way, through technology or not, you definitely need to check out their website and if you like that, these guys are fun to listen to each week. I usually come away with at least two things I want to implement into my life.

pti_300PTI (Pardon The Interruption) is an ESPN show with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. They are classic sports journalists who can speak to any sport and do. They cover all the latest news and action highlights and bring in often touch on hidden gems. They only down side is that this is an audio recording of a TV show, so they will reference videos or images you can’t see. I wish they would make this a video podcast and it would make my other (next) list.

krys_boyd_150NPR has some amazing content. I listen to several compilation podcasts that pull in stories of my favorite categories, like Economy, Education and Technology. But my pick for this list is a little known show from an NPR station in Dallas, TX. They run two one hour interviews shows every weekday and each one is usually very interesting. The host, Chris Boyd, is one of the best interviewers, always incredibly prepared and offering thought provoking questions for a great conversation with the interviewer. This show lives up to its name, THINK! I have a couple more blog post coming from recent shows that I listened to – unfortunately, I am about 8 months behind in my listening!

mzl.xvsnrnou.170x170-75On CNN, Fareed Zakaria has a great global news coverage show called GPS, Global Public Square. It is another show converted to an audio podcast, but I find very little if anything is lost in this change. Fareed is another excellent interviewer and very well informed journalist and he can open eyes to the global situations that affect us all. I highly recommend this one if you are looking for a global perspective and how activities across the world affect Americans.

sidebar_book_drive_pDaniel Pink is a well-known author of business, management and work environment books. He started with Free Agent Nation in 2001 and his most recent book is called To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth about Moving Others. But I think he is best known for the best seller Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us from 2009. Pink’s podcast is call Office Hours. It is a casual interview/conversation with other authors and professionals in the field of organizational development and behaviors. While I don’t always agree with the accuracy of this assumptions, it often gives me something to think about how I operate in life and at work.

Favorite App Honorable Mention July 6, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Technology.
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I was remiss in not adding a sixth app to the list on my last post. I only found out about this app last week from Lifehacker. But this one isn’t really an app. It is more of a GUI (graphical user interface) over haul.

Many of the Android phone have slightly different GUIs that are installed by the cell phone manufacturer or the cellular service provider. I believe my phone has Touch Wiz which is good enough. It is fast and easy to use.

But at the suggestion of the editors at Lifehacker on their weekly podcast a few weeks ago I installed Nova Launcher. It is just as fast, but it does a few things better. First is that the home screens rotate and the widgets adjust accordingly.

Next, with Touch Wiz, you are limited to six home screens and as you cycle through them it stops at the end. But with Nova Launcher, the screens cycle around in a circle. I also like the way it actually looks like a box with corners as you change screens.

And finally, while this seems like such a minor nitpicky thing, it doea group better. With Touch Wiz you can only see one or two items in a group while it is closed. But with this GUI, you can see at least four or five. It makes groups much more worthwhile.

I highly recommend this app to anyone running Jelly Bean.

Favorite Android Apps June 18, 2013

Posted by shwaldman in Technology.
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I moved from iOS to Android in December. I pulled a lot of my same apps from Apple iPod Touch to Samsung phone. But there were some things that are differently and needed Android-specific functions. I suppose this isn’t just a review of Android apps, but I am pretty sure some of them run better or have different functionality because of the different features on Google operating system (like flash support).

So what are my top favorite apps I go to on a regular basis? What I need on my phone are apps that I can use and make my life easier. I have not figured out how to incorporate Evernote and other all-encompassing productivity apps like it into my work flow. But have lots of apps that have unique and valuable features, all available in the Google Play Store. I am not going to bother to cover the core Google Apps. And I am use going to list them as I see or think about them, not in any particular order.

playerpro PlayerPro – This is a great audio player. It costs $4.95 and I don’t like paying for things I don’t have to! It is worth the money. It has all the features I was looking for. It an equalizer, though I don’t use it much. It has a Sleep Timer, which I use all the time. it can be setup to appear on the locked home screen and/or in the notification bar (or not). Many different skins are available (though I just use the default). It handles playlist and allows creation/modification very easily. And it auto-creation recently played and recently added which I find helpful. The one small feature I would like them to add some timer indicator once you start the sleep timer. It also does not do a great job with videos, but I stick it audio use and love it. It could also use a x2 playback mode, but I don’t miss it too much.

airsync Air Sync for Double Twist – Coming from iOS which I used with my MacBook and iTunes, I needed something that would automate getting my files to my device. After a few syncing issues, I have been using this app with very little effort. Once configured, it just works (as long as the DoubleTwist app is running on my laptop). It is a little annoying that it needs to have the screen active during the sync and doesn’t know what to do when I accidentally hit the screen shutoff button during a sync, but very minor issue. It automatically pulls all my smart playlists from iTunes and transfers the selected ones to my phone. It works well and have only had one or two videos that would not transcode correctly. The other thing that is disappointing is that it will not (yet) sync play count back to iTunes. They say it is coming, but I am not sure it would work if I am using PlayerPro rather than the DoubleTwist audio player anyway. It costs $4.99 and is worth every penny not to have to plug my phone into my computer (ever)!

sdrescan The next app was not something I knew I would need when I moved to Android. I knew for months I would need DoubleTwist. But after a few syncs and not seeing my content, I did some research online. It turns out that the Android OS did not know I was adding content through the Sync. So, the amazing problem solvers of the web created apps like SDrescan. It has a simple function to just check my SD card for content and reindex it for the OS and it only takes a couple of seconds on a 64 GB (half full) card. Simply and it works. Free. The only drawback is that you have to hit a button to close the app when it is done its work, but it is also nice to know when it was done.

tasker The one big thing I did like about iOS and Apple in general is how locked down they are. I get they are trying to protect the average user, but for people who want to take control of their devices, Android is the place to be. And the app that truly takes that responsibility is Tasker. Tasker runs in the background and makes your device do what you say when you want it – without having to do anything! Once you configure your phone to do something when something happens, it just does it. For example, this is what I use it for:
a) At 10pm, put all external sound to quiet.
b) When connected to my home network, turn off Mobile data.
c) When I leave my home network, turn mobile data and bluetooth back on and turn off wi-fi.
d) I have run SDrescan every morning so I know anything came to my phone via AirSync will show up.
It costs $2.99, but it makes phone automation very handy and easy.

rr3 The absolute Best Car Racing Game – and it is free – has to be Real Racing 3. It has incredible graphics and life-like physics. It provides different camera angles and all of them make you fee like you are there. Simply amazing. They have tons of actual car models that you buy for game money that you earn from each race. You also have to fix your car based on the damage you have done during the races. Race clean and have less repairs. It has multiplayer but it is only in time-shifted against Facebook friends or other random users. I wish you could connect over wi-fi or bluetooth and race friends, but that is the only gripe. I can not understand how this one is free.
Update: At the beginning of July, EA overhauled this game interface. The game play itself did not change, nor did existing progress in the game. But requirements around repairing vehicles has been simplified and a set of time trial races have been added to each race series – which has the effect of lowering progress percent across all series temporarily. I like this new race mode since it gives a better sense how you compare as a driver across the world.

So, that is my top 5. I use others and when I get to it, I will definitely do another post, but I have been meaning to get this one out, so I hope people read and enjoy.