New Xoom Launcher

I recently found a new launcher for Android that’s really awesome!  I had been using ADW Launcher for some time now, and thought it was the best one out there… up until about a week ago.  I’ve given it a week to make sure it didn’t turn out to be another one of those flashy homescreen apps that turns out to be riddled with bugs, very clunky and a terrible experience, before I went ahead and posted something recommending it.  So you can rest assured, it’s a pretty sweet launcher.

I found it after browsing around on and looking at other users’ homescreens.  Several of them were using something called “Apex Launcher Pro”, and that intrigued me.  The next thing I know I’m installing it on my tablet and digging in deep.  This one isn’t for everyone though–it’s only for ICS (a.k.a Ice Cream Sandwich, or Android 4).  So it won’t run on my phone, only my tablet.  That is, until US Cellular finally releases an Android 4 phone… then I’ll be all over THAT.

Anyway, since it’s designed specifically for Android 4, it looks and feels a LOT like the stock Android 4 launcher–everything is there, the very smooth-scrolling screens outlined in their box containers (only seen when scrolling your homescreens), the smooth page-by-page app drawer icons and widget pages… everything is still there, except there’s tons MORE you can now do and change.   Every feature seems to have added abilities.  Everything from Folders (which can now have square outlines, circle outlines, custom outlines, or even take on “iPad-like” grid qualities) to what happens when you press the Home button, to how you want your app drawer to look and act… and yes, you can even adjust your “grid size”, having more or less icons and widgets on each homescreen, whetever you prefer.  You can cram them full with a grid of 10×10 (100 icons per screen!) if you like, or even bring it down to 4×4 to make it look just like a phone display on your tablet!

Apex’s settings screens even look exactly like Android 4’s settings pages, so it all blends together perfectly, making it just feel right.  I think this is really the first launcher I’ve used where, after a week of use, I really have no complaints at all.  I haven’t found a single one of those little “gotchas” yet that spoil the whole experience.

There’s a free version of Apex Launcher, so you can try it out and see if it looks like it’ll work ok for you.  Then there’s the full “Pro” version, which is actually just a key that unlocks all of the free version’s features, for $3.99.  The Pro version includes a bunch more transitions and many additional features that make it a truly great experience way beyond the stock launcher.  Give it a shot if you’re running Android 4… go ahead, add some sprinkles to your Ice Cream Sandwich!  Hey… aren’t those called “Jimmies”?  Ha!


A few favorites

I just added a few more favorites to the small “Arizona Vacation – 2012” photo album.  This set is intended to include those photos I love the most from the entire trip, so I’ll be placing some photos here that you might also find in the other photo albums from the trip, just to highlight them.  Here’s today’s uploads:

Here’s a few shots of the “nippliest” mountain peak I think we saw… I think these turned out great, considering they were taken in a moving car though the front windshield.  You can see a bit of dashboard reflection and a few slaughtered bugs on the widshield if you look real close, but I think even that adds a little something interesting to the shots.  Shot 1, Shot 2, Shot 3.

I meant to ask Jay this when we got to Arizona, but completely forgot about it until I found these tonight: What the heck do you call these “retarded punk-ass cacti” we saw on the way down, in New Mexico?!  I expected to see more of them during the trip, but I only saw them on the way there, just after we passed White Sands.  They look like cactus that don’t know how to cut their hair or even look decent and respectful…they’re just “punks”.  It was very amusing to me (and apparently ONLY me, as I was the only one laughing–hysterically–in the car) when we kept driving past more and more of them.  After I calmed down a little I was able to snap this and this.

And here and here is proof positive that not everything is brown in Arizona… regardless of what everyone thinks… It is, however, much more expensive to maintain this color of lawn…

And lastly, to close out today’s posting, Achmed and Walter watch the sun rise over Lake Pleasant.  G’night.

Back Home

We’re back home now.  We got in around 4:30pm on Sunday, after another marathon 2-day drive up from Arizona.  Pat and I decided to go through the Colorado Rockies on the way back for a change of scenery and to see a whole different part of the country.  It was pretty amazing–and pretty scary at times.  We ran into a couple blizzards in the mountains that made things pretty slow-going for awhile, but we came through it unscathed.  I took a ton more photos (over 400) on the way back, so feel free to take a look.  There’s some awesome mountain shots in there, along with a few shots of the blizzard conditions.  And here’s the EveryTrail path we took… Check out the “Statistics” on that one!  At our highest elevation we hit 9,993 feet!

When I hit the first snow storm in the mountains, I think Pat was asleep.  It went from crystal clear sky and road, to ice-covered road and blizzard conditions in a matter of seconds.  Then, about a quarter of a mile into it we came upon an overturned car in the ditch.  There were four other cars stopped along the side of the road helping, so I kept going, though I did slow down much more after that.

It sure was a quick, activity-packed, whirlwind ten-day vacation, that’s for sure!  Everyone had a great time, and we brought back a lot of great memories–and a lot of extra gifts and keepsakes.  We’ll definitely be doing it again, but next time we’ll stay longer.  Not necessarily to do more–we did plenty, believe me–but just to take in everything that much more, get a better feel for things, and perhaps do some serious decision-making.  Sandy will be coming next time for sure.  Even if I have to drag her.

Arizona Road Trip

We are currently on a one-week vacation in Arizona!  We drove down here, leaving Wisconsin on Thursday, April 5th, 2012.  Here’s some highlights:

This was our drive from Wisconsin to Arizona.  Then I tracked our Grand Canyon visit on Everytrail. Most of the photos from the Grand Canyon are attached to the Everytrail trip, but for the COMPLETE Grand Canyon collection, click here.  I also took two panoramas, which are here and here.

I also tracked our drive up to the top of South Mountain on Everytrail.

Here are a couple of Panoramas from the top of South Mountain.  You can rotate them 360 degrees, and view them fullscreen:

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the trip.  And here’s our collection of photos from the Gateway Arch.

Here’s our photos from Jerome, Arizona – a tiny town located at the top, and on the side of, a mountain.  What a scary drive this was, but the food at The Haunted Hamburger was great!  It was featured on the Food Network.  And this is the complete photo set from our trek to the top of South Mountain.

And last, but not least, this is a collection of Achmed and Walter’s antics on the trip.