Every once in a while it's fun to share some things that I like, and it seems to be a popular segment in the blog. So here we go.
1. Verizon Wireless. I have been on a roll of good experiences with them in the past few months, so I think they deserve a shout-out. They had already done some good things for me this spring, and then I got out of the recent phone-in-the-laundry debacle with a quite reasonable and positive outcome.
I did not get a free replacement of my laundered phone -- I really would not have expected that -- but the sales rep in the South Burlington store really put on his thinking cap and thought outside the box. (How many more cliches can I come up with here?)
He helped me make -- maybe not a silk purse, but perhaps a nice Egyptian cotton sateen one -- out of a sow's ear.
In the car salesman's vernacular, he "put me in" another HTC Incredible 2, and I did not pay full retail, as I feared I would have to. I think that's a win. At least I am in less psychic pain over the whole fiasco. Though it remains to be seen on actual paper, and though there is a little bit of comparing apples to oranges which makes it a difficult equation, I think I might actually be ahead of the game in the future billing department.
2. SquareTrade. In the same vein, SquareTrade -- a company I only learned about from Cate, of Mamacate fame, after the laundry incident, has been very decent, as well. More than decent -- downright awesome, and I'm impressed, as are PC Magazine, the iPhone App Store, MacWorld, Google, Amazon, and a host of other news outlets and awards agencies who recommend them.
The one caveat is: It's a warranty, not insurance. So it covers malfunctions and accidents (mine does, because I bought accident coverage), but it does not cover theft or loss. That is something to be aware of. But still, I can't speak highly enough about the customer service they gave me. They canceled the warranty I bought "too late, and yet too early" on the ill-fated device, and gave me all my money back. Then they gave me a new warranty on the new device, with a 20% discount. (If you want a referral for a 20% discount, let me know. I can send you one.)
3. Favorite Apps (so far). You knew it would come to this, didn't you? The lady who moved, rather kicking and screaming, into Smartphone World, is now listing her favorite apps in a blog post. But what're ya gonna do? You're here. You have to read.
Here are the apps I never knew existed two weeks ago, but now I figure I can't live without: (These are all for Android, since that is what I have. I don't know nothing about no iPhone apps, and I don't really care, although I'm about to buy an iPhone for Abigail today, and so you can direct your comments to her if you want.)
- Pocket. A place to store all your passwords, account numbers, insurance policies, prescriptions, membership ID's, and other things you want to remember but always forget. Especially since I have worked really really hard to make every password different of late, and I have what seems to be an infinite number of accounts and passwords, my brain was beginning to swim and ... oh, hell, what am I saying? I was drowning, and could never remember ANY of my passwords. Now they are all there on the Droid, easy to access from that little pocket lock icon, and synched and backed up to a Dropbox account which you have to have as an adjunct. This week when my phone was washed? I was sure as hell glad it was all backed up on the Dropbox account, I'll tell ya that.
- Smart Silencer. This one took a bit of work to find. It was something I thought HAD to be invented, and yet nobody seemed to have heard of such a thing. With much diligence (I was about to try to invent it myself and hoped to become a millionaire), I found it. Sure, with all the other apps you can block callers, or you can turn your phone off completely at night if you don't want unknown callers to bug you (this happened to me the other night, which is why this issue reared its ugly head). But that is onerous, to block all those unknown unwanted callers (and how you gonna block someone that's unknown anyway?).
I wanted an app to be able to shut off the phone at night or during a nice nap, and yet allow certain people (e.g. my daughter) to call at any time. This one does it, and more -- if I want even Abigail to be shut out and sent directly to voicemail -- say I'm working and can't be disturbed -- it will do that. I can tell it (and I have) to always be off except for my certain two or three allowed callers from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., for example. It works great and I love it.
- Smart App Lock. At first I was using a password for everything on my phone. That got to be a bit annoying. So this app keeps whatever things I choose to be password-protected, protected -- such as email and messages -- but the phone itself can be used without a password.
- Fast Dialer. I thought the Android's system for dialing a call was difficult -- especially compared to the BlackBerry's, and especially since the Android has imported all my 64.3 billion contacts. This dialer makes sense to me, and I like it. Clean, efficient. Rather ridiculous, I say, that one has to get an app for that, but at least it's out there.
- Alarm Clock Plus. Comes on automatically when I plug my phone in at night, which I think is quite charming to be so smart like that. You cute little Android app, you. I love the look, and it speaks the time to me when it goes off.
- Contact Analyzer 2. An early annoyance re the Android: All of my contacts from gmail, from Facebook, from my old email accounts, from my BlackBerry every single person who had ever commented on my blog, every business contact -- and probably more that I've forgotten now -- were all imported, which meant in many instances they were doubled, tripled, quadrupled, quintupled. Some things in this "smart" modern world are just a tad over the top. I thought I was going to go INSANE. Until I found Contact Analyzer. And then my life was all clean and organized again. Sort of.
- Juice Defender. I'm annoyed that this is a necessity. What it really does is turns everything (most everything) off so that honestly, the Android is not really an Android a lot of the time. All those wonderful things they tell you that the Android is automatically synching and automatically doing in the background as selling points for a smartphone? Well, here's the reality: If you actually USE them, your battery life is absolute shite. So this app is smart, and it really is amazing at how it saves your battery life. However, it comes with a downside: My emails, for example, are only allowed to come in in batches every 15 minutes (or whatever setting I choose to set it at). So it's possible that you might send me an email and I won't get it until 15 minutes later. That might not seem like a big deal, but since it was absolutely instantaneous with the BlackBerry, this seems like a bit of a BIG, HUGE step back. And sometimes -- admittedly not often, but still -- 15 minutes is literally too late for me to receive that particular email and be able to respond to its message. But if it's a choice between that and my battery only lasting half a day, the choice is obvious. Irksome, but obvious.
Anyhoo. I was going to talk about some other, more mundane -- or perhaps more fun -- things such as my recent realization that I only like face and hair and skin products in tubs, not tubes or bottles, and the awesome new running undies I bought that I love so much, but that seems like too sharp a departure from all this tech talk for today. So we'll save pomades and panties for another day.
Do you have any favorite apps that you think I can't live without?