Category Archives: Tools

Better Ways to Text

You’ve got a smartphone. Your data plan may include unlimited texting. In my house, that’s a GoodThing(tm) because I’d be broke if I had to pay for my kids’ texts. To wit, from our most recent bill, I sent 153 SMS messages. My wife sent 57, my daughter sent 184 and my son sent 3,046! I think his thumb is stuck to his phone’s screen.

My smartphone, a Samsung Galaxy S3, has a pretty large screen. Not the largest you can get, but easy enough on my eyes and fingers. I also have a Google Nexus 10 tablet (made for Google by Samsung) with an external keyboard. I’ve been using Gmail and Google Calendar for years. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I could no longer have the instantly updated view no matter where I look (phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, library, hotel kiosk, wherever). Because of this integration, and frankly, because I’m lazy – I don’t want to pull my phone out to deal with  a SMS text message if I’m working with my tablet – I’ve been looking for a SMS text app for my tablet that can use my smartphone’s number.

This week, I found Mighty Text. Its available in the Google Play store. No, I don’t get a commission if you click the links, I’m providing them because I think you’ll like this app. Anyway, install it on your phone and create an account. By default, it will link to your phone’s Google account, which is probably Then, install it on your tablet and link it to the same account. If you want, install a browser add-in to your desktop or laptop and link it to the same account for seamless integration across the platforms.

The app claims “instant notification” to your tablet or desktop when your phone receives a SMS text message. I don’t know about instant, but I can tell you that the incoming message popup is visible on my tablet BEFORE I hear the notificaiton sound associated with the incoming message on my phone. Incoming and outgoing messages are visible on all linked platforms.

So, have you been looking for an app like this? If so, try MightyText and let me know what you think. Do you know of other apps that can do this? Please share, especially if you look at MightyText and think you’ve got something better!

Note that I’ve updated my Smartphone Apps list to include the MightyText and GoSMS Pro applications.


Smartphone Apps

OK, you got a new “smart” phone for Christmas and you want to know what to do with it. Chances are your phone came pre-loaded with some applications (apps). A long time ago there was a deadpan line “there’s an app for that”. They were right. Pretty much whatever you want to do with your new smartphone, someone (or many someones) has made an app to help you accomplish your task. You can try using the apps that came on your phone. They may be good apps. Or maybe they’re crappy apps that someone paid your phone manufacturer or cellular service provider (wait, do any of them really provide “service”?) to put on your phone for you. There’s good news – some of them really are useful. There’s bad news – you can’t get rid of the ones you don’t like without voiding the warranty on your phone.

So, how do you know if there’s a better app to do something than the one you’re currently trying to use? Ask your friends. Just remember a few things:

  • We all have different tastes and preferences so your friends favorites may not be yours
  • Most of us have different phones, with different operating systems, or different versions of the same operating system, or different manufacturer and service provider modificaitons.
  • Possibly the most important thing to remember is that nothing is free. Nothing is even cheap. The people who write apps have your best interests at heart. No they don’t. They want to give you something just useful enough that you want to use it and give them something of value. That may be money in they case of apps you have to pay for. That may be access to all the email addresses, phone numbers, names and birthdays in your contact list. That may be your location. That may be your texting habits. Whatever. When you turned on your cell phone, you gave up your rights to anything and started giving away everything.
  • If you don’t like what I said in the previous bullet, drop your smartphone in the toilet right now and don’t ever use it again.

OK, that said, here is a list of apps that I find incredibly useful in my daily life. If you find others that you think I should know about, please drop me a line and I’ll try them out. If I like them, I’ll add them to the list. Finally, if you find this information useful, please share it with others. Thank you.

My list:

Kindle reader
Lose It
Arcus (best short term local forecasts)
RadarScope (best weather radar app)
The Weather Channel
Weather Underground
Flash Alerts

NIV Bible
Audubon (one or more of these excellent references goes on sale every holiday):
– Insects and Spiders
– Trees
– Birds
– Butterflies
– Mammals
– Mushrooms
OpenTable (restaurant reservations)
Gas Buddy (find the cheapest gas station nearby)
EveryTrail (find hiking places nearby)
Mobile Observatory
Google Sky Map
Google Earth
Mixology (drink recipes)
Meal Spinner (food recipies)
IMdb (movie/show/celebrity information)
Waze (better than google maps/navigation due to real time updates and alerts)
Google Maps
Google Navigation
Google+ – why? Guy Kawasaki explains it best!
Facebook – not everyone uses Google+ yet 🙂
Foursquare – some great “check in” and “mayor” special deals
Feedly (track/read blogs)
CaringBridge – Keep in touch with someone experiencing a significant illness
Twitter – What’s going on in 140 characters or less
GoSMS Pro – a “better mousetrap” than most default SMS texting applications
Mighty Text – lets you send SMS text messages from your tablet or PC using your phone
PlayerPro (best music player, period, don’t waste your time on any others)
Pianist HD
Pitch Pipe
Hi-Q MP3 recorder
Mobile Metronome
Tone Room Deluxe (find your favorite ring tones, alarm sounds, etc)
Play Store (Google)
Entertainment card
UPS Mobile (for alerts of all your shipments/deliveries 🙂
Pixlr Express
Photoshop Express
Color Touch
PS Touch
The Hill
Milwaukee JS
On Milwaukee
NPR News
Go Comics
(I don’t play many games but have a few loaded)
Words With Friends
Logic Square
Roller Ball
Big Win Slots
Big Win Blackjack
Pinball Deluxe
Solitare Deluxe
Angry Birds (a bunch of variations)

Do As I Say…

There are a few pieces of wise advice I remember hearing more than a few times from my Dad. Two in particular come to mind this morning:

  • Always use the right tool for the job, and,
  • Do as I say, not as I do

Well, OK, I don’t know if I ever heard you say “Son, use a real edger!” and I can’t say for certain that I ever saw you try to use a string trimmer to edge your driveway or sidewalk. But I know you had a real edger (it was green and black) when we lived on Denton Ave. and I’ve struggled enough trying to use a string trimmer to edge so I gave up a few years ago.

For fathers’ day, my extremely perceptive family picked up on my hints and I got a Black & Decker “edge hog”. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

The right tools for the job!

A half hour in the hot sun and my driveway and patio are edged like a pro would edge them, with the help of the edge hog, my electric tornado and a nice heavy duty extension cord. Thanks for the advice Dad! Your driveway and walk next week?

FTC 16 CFR, part 255 Disclaimer: The Black & Decker “edge  hog” link above is an affiliate link to If you click the link and buy the product from Amazon, I may earn a few cents. I only link to things I use and truly believe are great products, in hope that someone who reads my blog will also find them useful. This is not a significant source of income for me and the few cents I may earn does not in any way influence what I link to.