Awesome Thanksgiving

Thanks to everyone for making our Thanksgiving wonderful this year!  The food was awesome, and Sandy did an amazing job for cooking her first Thanksgiving turkey!  I think it was the best I’ve ever had!  The stuffing was (I guess I should say “Is”, since I’ll be eating it all weekend) great too–Rick’s special recipe.  The company was great as well, and I hope everyone else enjoyed the day as much as I did!  Thanks again everyone!  Click here for a few photo highlights.

Going Subsonic

Ok, MOG is out.  After a thorough analysis of the app and the service itself, I have decided to drop it.  I have found several services now that offer the same “on-demand” music streaming, all have millions of songs, and offer their own variation of the same features.  These include Rhapsody, Napster, and a few others.  So there really isn’t a lack of this ability available, and they are all around the same price, about $10/month, so they compete fairly evenly.

One of the hitches with MOG (and probably the others as well) is that you can only be logged into one device at a time. Since all of our family’s devices use the same accounts, I set it up on all of them, but if I start MOG on my phone and Kevin happens to be listening to it, Kevin gets bumped off the service, and vice versa. Very annoying. At least one of the other services offer an upgraded tier of $15/month for use on up to 3 devices at once, so at least there’s an option out there, but still pricey.  Also, the MOG app on the Android seems a bit buggy. I often get bumped off of the service when I know Kevin and Sandy aren’t using it, and other times it just stops streaming mysteriously and hangs.

Since I’m a long-time Slacker subscriber, and still am, I’ll stick with it for awhile and see how their on-demand service works when it finally comes out (if ever).  Meanwhile, I’ve discovered an amazing alternative! SUBSONIC! It’s a music streaming server (yes, I said “server” not “service”) that you install on your own computer, and it streams your entire music collection (and much more!) to any of your devices! Since everything is served from your own PC, you don’t have to rely on any other service for your access.  And the price?  Free for 2 weeks, then you have to make one small donation (of any amount) to get a permanent license.  That’s it, and you never pay another fee.  The Android app is free too, and written by the same developer who wrote the Subsonic server itself.  The iPod apps (there are two or three currently available for the iPhone) are around $4.99, but that’s a one-time fee as well.  These were written by other developers, and I think they may support a few other services and/or servers as well as Subsonic.  The one we’re using on our iPods is “Z-Subsonic”.

So Subsonic gives us all full access to everything we have on every device we use, for a total of a few dollars!  It works great, and I have yet to see the apps crash–on any device.  The apps give you a lot of options too–you can adjust the amount of space to reserve for your cache, you can set how many songs to pre-cache, etc., and even subscribe to Podcasts on the server and it handles downloading those automatically and serving them up on your devices.  You can even setup as many user accounts on the server as you want, each with their own restrictions (or full admin freedom), and use those accounts on any device as you want to.

It is really nice (and comforting) to know we can be anywhere–even right at the desk on our home PC serving up the music–and we can drop an iPod into a sound dock and stream any album or playlist we want, instantly.  No more sync’ing, iTunes, or space issues on any of the devices!

The Woz Picks Android to Beat the iPhone

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak thinks Android will eventually beat the iPhone as a mobile-phone platform in much the same way Windows computers squeezed Apple’s market share in the PC market, he said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper.  In an interview with De Telegraaf reporter Alfred Monterie, Wozniak said that Android will become the dominant smartphone platform. He didn’t write off the iPhone completely, however, saying it “has very few weaknesses” and that, “when it comes to quality, iPhone is leading.” While he admitted the quality of Android phones hasn’t been consistent, he championed the platform, saying “Android phones have more features” and that eventually the quality of the experience will match iOS. Full story

Why Netflix isn’t on Android yet

I’ve been drooling for Netflix to finally come out for Android. Today I found out why it’s not out yet. I guess Netflix is concerned with how “open” the Android platform is. They are now working with different solutions based on each of the different handset manufacturers. Which means, when it DOES come out, there will be a different version for each different Android phone, which, in turn, means it will take much longer to come out than expected, depending on which manufacturer they release it for in what order. Sounds pretty messy, and could hurt Netflix in the long run. I hope not though, we’re enjoying their services on every OTHER platform we have. Here’s the article.

MOG

This weekend I discovered MOG.  MOG is a streaming music service similar to Slacker and Pandora, with a few big differences: With MOG you can search for and find specific songs and albums and even download them to your device! I have been waiting since March, when I heard Slacker was going to come out with this type of “On Demand” music feature, but they never did.  I hear it’ll be coming out “any day now” for Slacker, but I’m still waiting.  Apparently MOG has been around for several years, I guess I just never heard of it.  Ironically, I found it while reading the Slacker forums today, to find out when Slacker will be releasing their version of the service.  I couldn’t find a date, but several users mentioned that they were using MOG now, and hoped to switch to Slacker when Slacker On-Demand comes out.  It’s a relief to know it’s been out a long time too–it makes me a little less nervous about paying for a service I haven’t used much yet

So for now, MOG is it I guess. It’s $9.99 a month, so it isn’t cheap, but having instant access to virtually everything out there is exciting for me, and probably cheaper than what I normally spend on regular music throughout the year.  They have millions of songs, albums, and radio stations, and it’s great when an artist or song just pops up in my head and now there’s a place to go to instantly find and play that song or album.

They have apps for iPhone, iPod and Android, so I’m using the iPod and Android apps on my two devices and Kevin has the iPod app on his iPod now too.  The ability to download albums and songs is great too–especially when I’m somewhere (like in the basement of a hospital) with no cellular connection.  Though I have been a huge Slacker user for awhile, it looks like MOG is going to be my new main player for now, at least until Slacker finally releases their version if this service.  At that point I’ll have to compare feature sets and decide which to keep and which to cancel.

For the next two weeks, however, I’m in a free trial of MOG though, so it’s even sweeter knowing I’m not paying for it yet.  I’ll be giving it a thorough workout too, making sure it’ll do everything I need it to before I start shelling out any money for it.

My Photos Live

Time for an app review.  This week I found “My Photos Live” by “Sandroids” for the Android.  This is a great app for displaying your photos, whether they are on your Android phone, on Flickr, on Facebook, or even spread out on all three of these sources!  I had been looking for something like this for awhile and I tried several apps that do this in different ways, but I think this one has done it right.  It offers many transitions to choose from (used when changing photos in the slideshow) as well as a “random” setting to choose a random transition every time it changes, but the feature I love the most is its ability to make this slideshow your Live Wallpaper!  I set the change slide time to very long (which, on this app, is one or two minutes) and make it my Live Wallpaper, so whether the phone is locked, or I’m on one of my screens, the wallpaper changes to any one of my thousands of photos on Flickr every minute or two.  You can even choose a specific photoset from your Flickr collections if you like, or simply select all of them, as I did.  Another nice feature is “Slideshow Mode”.  This simply sets the app to automatically start the slideshow whenever you plug in your phone.  Nice, since your phone usually isn’t doing anything anyway when it’s plugged in for charging (besides playing your music, as I do with mine), so it’s nice to have an instant mini “photo frame” going while it sits on your desk.  This app is available for free, without any restrictions I believe, but a 99-cent “donate” version is also available to support the developer, Sandroids, which is what I did after trying out the free version for awhile.  I highly recommend the pay version of ANY app that you find useful, especially when they’re as good as this one and they’re only asking for a very small amount, like 99 cents.