Watch this. Smart, eh?

instaweather-watchfaceI have an old first-generation Moto 360 smartwatch.  I got it after the 2nd generation came out and the price dropped dramatically on this one.   When I first got it about a year ago, I had a lot of problems with the battery dying way too quickly–after only a few hours sometimes.  But this was due to both the newness (me enjoying toying with all of the features and options to see what I like the most) and to the firmware, which was a bit buggy.  These days I’m pretty happy with it.  After try out hundreds of watchfaces over the months, I’ve settled on one I like the most — Instaweather.  In particular, the “Hourly Forecast” version, which is shown in the photo.  One flick of my wrist and this screen pops on, showing me the 7-day forecast, current time & temp, each day’s high and low, and much more.  I can also click the graph to switch to different ranges of the forecast – anything from a 6-hour range to a 7-day range, or switch to a “dew point and humidity” view instead of temperature, etc.  The colored ring around the rim of the watch even shows my total daily distance goal for walking (currently 2 miles per day).

Go Pokemon Go!

Last week Pokemon Go was released to the public. Kevin and I have been playing the Field Test version for a couple months, so we had a good head-start on it. Our accounts were reset though, so we had to start over when the public release came out, but at least we had a lot of time to learn the basics and watch it turn into the cool game it is now. Boy has it taken the world by storm though!! It seems like almost EVERYONE is playing it, with crowds of people found at Pokestops and gyms all over the place, meeting up and playing together.

It’s fun knowing where this all came from, and knowing we, as early Ingress players, played a big part in it. It seems a lot of Pokemon Go players have yet to learn how it all came to be. When I talk to Go players I explain what Ingress is, and that Ingress is kind of a “Pokemon Go Origins”. Niantic (creators of Ingress) and Nintendo got together and shared their gaming data to create a new sort of Pokemon/Ingress hybrid game. They used all of the basic GPS mapping data and features and Ingress “portals” to create all of the Pokestops and Gyms in Pokemon Go. Having a good knowledge of the entire area’s portal locations from over 3 years of playing Ingress gives us “old school” gamers a distinct early advantage in Pokemon Go, but with so many more people playing, virtually everywhere, and many of them much stronger and better Pokemon players than us, the overall favor still tips things in their way it seems.

Most of the portals that Ingress started with were created by Niantic using the data from the Historical Marker Database on the Internet (http://www.hmdb.org/). But they were few and far between when the game was first released. So we, as early Ingress players, were allowed to submit hundreds of locations players might find interesting while playing Ingress, and after a sometimes-very-long acceptance process by Niantic, each portal was either rejected or accepted. If accepted, it became a “portal” when Ingress players could go to build it up for their faction, either for the blue team (The Resistance) or for the green team (The Enlightened). Personally, I am responsible for the creation of nearly 200 portals in the game, all in and around the Kenosha, WI area and near my work in Waukegan, IL. I have also made it to the top Ingress level, L16, so I feel I know Ingress fairly well.

Ingress is sort of a capture-the-flag GPS-based game with two factions fighting against one another, worldwide. Niantic would periodically hold “anomaly” events in different cities around the globe, which would draw in hundreds or thousands of players from all over the area and around the world to participate in close one-on-one and team-on-team battling for a day.

I had thought Ingress had gotten pretty popular itself, until seeing the effects of this past week’s Pokemon Go release! It’s almost like having an “anomaly” event every day at the moment… hundreds of people flocking to clusters of portals (known as Gyms and Pokestops) to Pokemon Go players… It has already been on the front page of the Kenosha News, all over every TV news program, and even on TMZ! It’s getting everyone up and out, walking around, being social, and getting some exercise, playing with their kids, and getting active. Many say so many adults are playing because they grew up on Pokemon, and are sort of reliving their childhood at this point. Whatever the reason, it’s getting people out exercising and socializing like never before, and playing a game with their kids again. I can say, personally, that it has had the same effect for me. Kevin, my son, now 18 years old, played Ingress with me a few years ago, reach level 10 after about a year and got bored of it and stopped playing. Since Pokemon Go came out, he is now excited to go back out and play with me, and we’re often out playing together again!

Kevin and I heard about this game’s “Beta Testing” a few months ago, way before it’s public release last week, and we signed up to “Field Test” the app. Luckily we were both accepted for the field testing… From what I heard, many others in the area that also signed up never got accepted, so we felt quite fortunate. We actually got a chance to play some very early versions of the game, and watch it evolve a little until the final version was released to the public. We saw some pretty interesting changes come and go in the game–some of which gave us great insight into how the data from Ingress is implemented in Pokemon Go. But perhaps I should leave those nitty-gritty details for another article…if anyone is interested.

Anyway, Niantic (creators of Ingress and an app called Field Trip) got together with Nintendo, and together they created a new version of Pokemon for smartphones, and all of that data for “portals”–most of which was created by us, it’s players–was used in Pokemon Go to create all of the Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops in the game. This includes the photos we took of each location. So based on Ingress gameplay, we created several “farm” areas all over the world. These are small geographic areas densely-populated with many portals, which groups of 8 or more of one of the two teams would often build up to the strongest level for their respective team and then “farm” that area’s portals for top-level gear.

So now, in Pokemon Go, these farm areas are fast becoming hugely-popular meetup areas for vast numbers of Pokemon Go players! For us Ingress players, it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before (except for the rare anomaly events held in major cities). Go players will cluster around a group of Pokestops (which are also Ingress Portals), plug Lure Modules into them, and just stand or walk around and watch the wild Pokemon come to them so they can capture them. Lure Modules are pretty rare in the game, but you can purchase them with coins (and you can buy coins for the game with real money, or earn coins in the game without paying with real money). Lures will attract Pokemon to that Pokestop for a period of 30 minutes, and players seem to just continuously deploy new ones on these popular Pokestops when one wears off, giving everyone around them the benefit of catching many Pokemon with very little effort.

Having been an Ingress player for over 3 years, and watching it only get rare new players, it’s a little overwhelming to now see TONS of new players, constantly playing this new game. Pokemon Gyms, which players can fight and train on, and claim for their team, somewhat like portals in Ingress, are flipped to a different team so often, it’s hilarious! Players have the potential to earn 10 coins in Pokemon Go for each Gym they have a Pokemon deployed on, every 21 hours. This is known as a Defender Bonus, and is the only way you can earn coins to purchase items in the game’s store, aside from spending real money. I think, since most players know this, this is one reason it’s so difficult to keep ownership of a gym for any length of time. Until the game settles down a bit more, all gyms will probably be constantly changing hands multiple times every day.

In Ingress, players would try to locate remote hard-to-get-to portals and try to use them as “Guardians” so they could own them for several months to earn one of their badges in the game. This eventually led to some players harvesting Ingress data and analyzing it to determine how long players have been on each portal, which would tell them how close these players were to earning that badge, so they knew exactly which portal(s) were a particular player’s guardian portal. These players were referred to as Guardian Hunters, or “Gunters”, to steal a term from the great book (and soon-to-be movie) “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline.. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ready_Player_One

I’m sure the “newness” of this craze will die down over time, and things will then start leveling off to a level a little closer to where Ingress is. Then again, with how much more popular this game is compared to Ingress right at its start, who knows! If they improve the performance of the app and keep adding better features and options like they did with Ingress, it might just gain much MORE popularity! I can’t imagine how that would be possible, but I guess we’ll see. I envision having “ops” much like we’ve had in Ingress, with groups of players from each faction planning massive attacks to take over gyms throughout an entire geographic area, and a nice world map like Ingress’ Intel Map so we can see how our team is doing, region-wide and worldwide compared to the other two factions.

Hold on to your Pokemon, people…this is just the beginning!

Oh, and just to throw in a shameless plug for our Kenosha group and my team of choice… Please signup to join our Slack Team at KenoshaGo.com. All teams are welcome! There are several public channels there for everything Pokemon Go, from news, gyms and meetups, to just general game discussion. Or you’re free to create a private channel just for your friends or for your own team to private discuss plans or meetups. Go Team Mystic!

My Samsung Galaxy S6 Debacle

The battery died on my Galaxy S6 last night, and I tried pretty much everything possible to get it working properly again, including soft reset, hard reset, factory recovery, etc. etc. etc., but nothing worked.  It seemed to “reboot” to the “SAMSUNG” screen most times instead of the “GALAXY S6” logo screen that normally appears from a power-off state. In fact, it REFUSED to even power off! Holding down the power button for a few seconds–which normally brings up the menu to power off of restart the phone–simply made it reboot back to the “SAMSUNG” screen (which is not a normal reboot, as previosuly mentioned).  Doing things in some apps – like trying to export my OnTrack readings and e-mail them to my wife, which I do daily, caused the same reboot, as well as just trying to open the built-in “Themes” function in Settings.

About a week ago I upgraded to Android Marshmallow, and everything worked great with it up until now. I’m not sure exactly what triggered this to happen except for my battery going dead while I was trying to use my phone. Pretty much everything is backed up to the cloud–all my apps, photos, etc., and the rest I have backed up manually (my OnTrack test results, SMS backup, and screenshots of all of my home screens, folders, and all of my app drawer icons–just to remind me of what was installed, for future reference). So my phone is primed to be wiped, but I can’t even get it to do THAT at this point.

I tried all of the instructions I found online for “How to hard reset the Galaxy S6”, but no luck. I even set the security settings to wipe the phone after 25 failed attempts at entering a PIN! I didn’t realize, however, that this little function was so time-consuming! What it does is let you enter the wrong PIN about 5 times, then reminds you about the wipe after 25 attempts and gives you a 5-minute delay before allowing you to try again. After trying again, maybe a few times, it reminds you again and increases the delay to 10 minutes. It repeats this process all the way up to 25 attempts, until it only allows 1 attempt before increasing the wait time between attempts. Finally, after the final attempt (and a whopping 1 HOUR delay), it tried to wipe the phone, showing “Deleting all data…” on the screen for several seconds, then did it’s reboot to the “SAMSUNG” logo, and returned to the login screen. When I tried to login once more with a bad PIN, it then showed “-1 attempts left – try again in 60 minutes” and the “Deleting all data…” message stayed on-screen as it once again attempted to wipe the phone. This time, however, the “Deleting all data…” message stayed on-screen forever. After waiting about 30 minutes with nothing changing, I pressed the power button and it went to the “SAMSUNG” startup screen again, rebooting.

After all that, I got desperate. With the only other option being to bring my phone into my carrier’s store, and having them first go through all of the same time-consuming troubleshooting steps I already went through, I started thinking about those buttons. For a warm boot you press 3 buttons. For a hard reset you press 3 buttons, but use the opposite volume button… and neither of those work for me. So what if I press ALL the buttons at once? There are a total of 4 on the phone: Volume Up, Volume Down, Power, and Home. So I did it and held them for about 10 seconds. Sure enough, my phone rebooted…CORRECTLY! Showing the GALAXY S6 screen instead of the SAMSUNG screen it kept rebooting to every other time! It just rebooted back to the login this time, but at least I could now consistently get it to properly reboot. So with this in mind, I did the 4-button reboot, and then immediately switched to the 3-finger combination used for a normal “hard reset”, figuring it would think it’s coming up from a power-off state and actually reset. After a couple failed attempts, the third time was a charm and I was able to switch buttons quick enough at the moment the GALAXY S6 screen appeared, holding the 3 buttons down, then the ANDROID logo appeared! SUCCESS! The next part was pretty amusing too… The little Android robot proceeded to fall over on it’s side, dead, with a big red circle with an X in it on he Android! I laughed pretty hard at that, which took away a lot of my frustration with this whole mess.

After a short time, the recovery menu appeared and I knew how to navigate this one–by using the VOL UP and VOL DOWN to select menu items and the POWER button to select them. With those I chose Factory Reset, and after it worked for several minutes I was FINALLY back to a brand-new phone! Everything is setup once again and working properly now. I know it’s good to refresh your phone every 6 months to a year, but this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be done. It was, however, good practice, and maybe this posting will even help someone else who might end up in the same situation. I have no idea what actually caused the issue or what became corrupted, I only know that my battery went dead quickly. If I’m not near a power source when it gets low though, I tend to push it right to the edge, so maybe that’s not such a good idea. It starts warning me at 15% battery, which is a sign to start charging or shut it down–SAFELY. Since I didn’t do that, it could have been in the middle of writing something critical when the power ran out. All I know is that it wasn’t a “CLEAN” shutdown, it was instantly dead. When I last glanced at the battery, it was at 1%.

OK Google, figure this one out…

I had an argument with my phone this morning in my car. I’ve been using the hands-free features more often, trying to get used to them, so this morning I woke up my phone with “OK Google, navigate to work.” This has worked many times in the past without issue. This time, however, I was instructed to make some strange turns at odd times, definitely going in the wrong direction, though the ETA looked about right. That’s the main reason I use it–just so I know about what time I’ll be at work–so I can squeeze in a few other things before work whenever possible. So I argued with my phone, tellling it a few times that “this isn’t right!” and “You must be joking!”, but of course, these arguments weren’t stated with “OK Google”, so they didn’t do any good for either one of us. I knew that, obviously, but my phone seemed to be having a brain fart, so I just argued with it to be just as ridiculous.

So once it was obvious I was going to the wrong location, I asked Google “OK Google, what is my Work address?” My phone then displayed my Home and Word Addresses. My Home address looked fine, but my Work address said “Lindenhurst, IL” with no address. It not only “forgot” my address, but also had the wrong city! This made me a little angry, but I was driving, so I said “OK Google, navigate to…” and I spoke the entire address of my work. That worked fine, and now I was navigating to the right location. When I got to work later on, I checked my “Edit work and home” settings in Google Maps on my phone and they were both correct! The exact correct address was stored for both locations! I’m pretty confused at this point. When I google the question “What is my Work address” I do get just “Lindenhurst, IL”, and it says “Contacts – Only you can see this result” at the top of the search result. I checked my contacts, and I don’t have an entry named “Work” though. Not even anything close. Where it’s getting this “Contact” information from, I have no idea. I just wish Google Maps would default to it’s OWN stored Home & Work locations instead of trying to be smarter by looking elsewhere.

Update:  Issue Resolved!  Apparently, there’s a Contact with my name on it that it checks.  So “Jim Trottier” has my Home and Work addresses, and Work said “Lindenhurst, IL”.  I corrected it.  <sigh>

New Toy

The Moto 360 smartwatch recently dropped another $100, which puts it at $149 now. We paid $300 for Kevin’s at Christmastime, so it’s actually a decent price right now, considering its features. I also had a $20 coupon for Best Buy, which was close to expiring, so for $130, I couldn’t resist.

Let’s get the worst thing out of the way right away: The battery life SUCKS. Just getting in an 8-hour shift at work without the watch dying is rare. It does only take 1 hour to fully charge from dead though, even using any wireless Qi charger, but it’s still a hassle. If it could somehow charge within a 2-foot range while still attached to my wrist, now THAT would be awesome… But I usually have to take it off and set it on top of my Qi pad for an hour to charge it up at work. Hey, at least it’s wireless!

The only other thing wrong with this watch is the “flat tire”. This is a small flat section at the bottom of the otherwise-perfectly-circular display. I have heard that this area is there to hold various sensors that the watch uses, so it’s necessary, but does tend to take away from the “perfect circle” display somewhat, and also hides useful information from watchfaces that take advantage of this area for displaying information. Several round-display smartwatches have since been released without this “flat tire” though, so one wonders whether they found a workaround for whatever sensors Motorola needed to put in that spot. Those watches currently cost a lot more than the Moto 360 right now though, so it’s a trade-off. Save $150, but get a flat tire…? I’ll take it!

But aside from those two things, I love the watch! It uses Android Wear, which is the universal software connection between pretty much every smartwatch and Android. This apparently opens up options for just about everything you could imagine, depending on what a developer wants to use it for. First, and foremost, is telling time. Yes, it tells time like a REAL watch. And if that’s all you want it to do, you might just be able to get decent battery life out of it as well! You can simply turn off all notifications and other features, find a simple watchface with only the most basic of animations (like just moving hands on an analog watchface) and the battery will probably last quite some time. I might have to try that some time, just to test this theory. But right now, I’m still playing…too many knobs and dials to try out…gotta play, gotta tinker.

Every option for telling time is available, even if you don’t see it in whatever watchface developer’s interface or app you’re using. Developers will only provide the features THEY want to, make their interface either easy to use or very difficult, and/or even make you pay for their watchface and/or design interface to make your own watchface. So, obviously, your experience with the watch may vary greatly. For myself, I like to try out everything, then I’ll eventually settle on a few apps or watchfaces I like the most and just use those. But then there’s always new stuff coming out, so I try those as well, hoping to find better things along the way. Being a geek, this is normal for me though.

Basic interfaces allow options for time, date, battery levels for the watch AND your phone, weather, etc., and some developers will also use nice animations, include calendar events, etc., but at the expense of battery life. Apps are another option altogether. Certain apps can be “installed” on the watch, though I’m pretty sure these are just tiny “stubs” or “mini versions” of actual applications that are primarily installed on your Android device, then simply feed data to your watch as needed. If an app installed on your android device is Android Wear-compatible, it is automatically installed on your watch and appears in the Apps list when you swipe right-to-left on the watch. One of these that showed up for me, surprisingly, Ingress! This is the MMO GPS game played worldwide that I play regularly (Resistance – Blue team). On the watch, when active, it alerts me to when portals are in range, and even allows me to hack the portals from my watch! This is neat, but after some use I find that it’s pretty limited and pretty much just a novelty. Your options are pretty limited, and–just as Ingress does on your phone–it’s a real battery juice sucker! Try hacking on your watch for an hour and you’re watch is DEAD, believe me!

Basically, the experience you have with the watch and how much you like it is going to come down to the quality of the developers and the apps and options they provide. For example, there’s an amazing app available called “Tip Calculator” for calculating restaurant tips, which you would think requires a calculator-type interface with all the number keys. This app manages to work flawlessly with only the slightest learning curve, has no “keyboard” at all, but only a few numbers (which are controls as well) in its center and a circular dial around the outside circle. It works great, doing exactly what it’s supposed to very quickly for you. It’s perfect for a round watchface. I hope more developers take a lesson from this one. The design is awesome, both in appearance and functionality!

There’s certainly no shortage of watchfaces for Android Wear. There are literally thousands out there to choose from, or you can just use one of the hundreds of different interfaces and design your own! There are so many good ones that I can’t even settle on just one and keep it that way, like Kevin does with his “Chicago Bears” themed watchface. I have a few different “Google Fit” watchfaces that show me my daily stats, including a constant view of my heart rate, my steps done today, and calories burned etc., and both my watch’s & phone’s battery levels as well as and “ambient” display that shows today’s weather forecast and temperature trend through the day. Another of my favorites is a “Military” watchface with no less than 6 different screens of details to flip between, and instant color-changing of them with a simple button push.

Basically, I’m happy with it. I consider it a geek toy, and it’s perfect for that. It tickles my wrist whenever I get any type of message, e-mail or text, and I can preview a bit of it or even read the entire message most of the time right on the watch. It helps me keep my phone in my pocket more often so I’m less distracted, and the automatic tracking of my steps and heart rate is just a health-monitoring bonus I could use. During my walks it constantly shows me my walking details and displays the music I’m listening to on my headset while I’m walking. And right now it’s analyzing my daily routine and it’s supposed to come up with a plan to help me stay (or in my case, “get”) fit based on my schedule. It should be interesting seeing how it progresses. It says it’ll take a couple weeks of gathering data.

Sargeant Update (less important than a General Update…right, Captain Obvious?)

Well, Rickochet is out now, so we’ve been working on our basement a bit. I guess it’s what they call a “partially finished” basement… We have carpeting down, and have one room down there paneled, but that’s about it–the rest is your basic basement, but it’s clean and dry, so we’re fixing things up a bit. We have a carpeting install coming for the one room down there, and once that’s in, we’ll be setting that up as Sandy’s “She Shed” (that’s the equivalent of a lady’s “Man Cave”). The rest of the basement will be for recreation, laundry, etc. We also gained some much-needed garage space, so we have some room to work on getting THAT cleaned up. It’s been waiting, with everything still in boxes, since we moved 3 years ago!

Matt helped us out recently by trimming the branches on our backyard tree. I picked up a nice, lightweight electric chainsaw from Menards, along with a tall ladder, and he able to get to nearly all of the branches we wanted removed–especially those overhanging our roof and one in the front yard that had our flag wrapped around it! The flag (still attached to our flagpole) got pretty damaged, but I was able to remove the branch from it after Matt cut the branch from the tree. It’s a little shredded on the end, but it’s flying free again, in time for the upcoming holidays. Thanks, Matt!!

We sold our big Ford Edge and switched to a Ford Focus Titanium instead. It’s a bit smaller and isn’t 4-wheel-drive, but we were able to cut our payments to less than half–even with the Titanium model, which has ALL the goodies on it–so it helps us a lot. The only regret I can see us having might come in the winter–a bigger, stronger 4WD vehicle can be a blessing in certain situations. But we’re well aware of that ahead of time, so we’ll work around it as best as we can and tough through the Wisconsin winters with it. At least it has remote start and a rear-view camera, which the Edge didn’t have.

Sandy, Ty, Kevin and I went to see Jurassic World yesterday. Awesome movie, they really pulled it off with StarLord as the main character. Chris Pratt seems to be great in everything these days. And then there was Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Private Pyle in Full Metal Jacket… He played a military guy (go figure) looking to use genetically-engineered animals on the battlefield. I half-expected Lee Ermey (his unforgettable drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket) to make a cameo appearance, like Stan Lee always does in the Marvel movies. It was great though–not even any really slow points in the movie either… Every time things started to slow down, BAM! They hit you with something else and off it went again. I think they were able to successfully pull off this one, using the same old island group “Isla Sorna”, etc., and they’ll probably do some record-breaking numbers. I just hope they can keep it up with the inevitable sequels. I have already heard that Chris Pratt is on board for more of them. We’ll see what happens.

I got a new phone last week – the Samsung Galaxy S6. 64GB of memory & a 8-core processor, but it’s sealed–no SD cards and no battery changes. So far it’s nice–amazing speed and features. The only downside is the battery time. I get about 10 hours out of it, before I need to recharge. I have to keep my brick pretty handy–but my brick is huge, so I can actually recharge my phone completely about 3 or 4 times from a single charge of my brick, so that’s not so bad. Having 64GB of internal memory–which is a first for me–eliminates a long-time problem I’ve had though: Juggling all of my apps, music and data files. Now that it’s all in one place, I don’t have to think about where things are or specially-configure specific apps (like DSub for my music) so they put their files in the proper locations. Everything just works. The camera is awesome too–supposedly the best smartphone camera out there today. 16 megapixel photos, animated GIFs, as well as many other modes, and it’ll even record 4K video. I already recorded a couple to test it out. I’ll have to watch them at Matt’s house, as he’s the only one I know with a 4K TV right now. And for those geeks who are even more curious–yes, after the usual 1-day of use, I again dumped the stock launcher and installed Nova Prime. No stock launcher ever comes close to the features and ease of use it provides!

Android Weather Apps

weather_thumbnailHello. My name is Jim, and I’m a weather addict.  I drool for the latest and greatest weather gadgets and apps.  My Roku screensaver is an awesome weather app that gives me tons of weather information.  But the Roku app isn’t why I’m posting right now.  I found a new Android weather app that’s pretty cool. It’s called “Arcus“.  It’s very “granular” and provides weather information in very clear terms, broken down to the next hour, next 24 hours, next week, temperature and precipitation graphing, etc.  When it was mentioned on TWiG (this week in Google) they even said it will give you details such as “Rain will begin in 8 minutes.”  I haven’t seen anything THAT granular yet, but it does give me almost everything I could ask for in a weather app…except animation!  Those I get from Accuweather — another great weather app.  Both apps are available in free and paid versions, offering a few more features and faster updating in the paid versions, and no ads.  I highly recommend the paid versions.  Click on any of the thumbnails to see a few screenshots.

Launcher Widget Issues

I’ve used a lot of different Android launchers over the years, and even purchased several of them, but I always end up coming back to the stock launcher for one reason or another. Lately, EVERY launcher I try has failed miserably at the same thing: Displaying a 4×4 calendar widget I use very often. If fact, I have even purchased a second calendar app that includes a completely different 4×4 calendar, hoping that it might not actually be the launchers, but the calendar app I was using (Jorte). Well, THAT one has the same issue in every non-stock launcher!

So now I’m very confused as to exactly what causes the issue. All I know is that they both simply work in the stock launcher on my Galaxy SIII. They’re always there when I scroll to that home screen. With every other launcher, after a day (and usually less than that) I scroll to that home screen and I get the “Problem loading widget” error and no calendar. I always have to restart the launcher app to get it working again (on the launchers that DO include a restart option). Has anyone else experienced this issue? I’d be curious to know if it’s just the Galaxy SIII, or if the same issue exists for other phones using non-stock launchers. I had a different phone a year ago, but do you think I can remember if I had this issue then?? Ha! I’m 50 now…I’m prone to a lot of CRS issues.

Anyway, the two apps I use that both include a 4×4 monthly calendar widget are Jorte (free) and Business Calendar (paid). I always configure them to display all of my calendar events as text. On the launchers that allow resizing, I usually stretch the calendar to the edges of the screen to maximize the info displayed on the calendar, but I’ve tried just leaving it the default size as well as making it smaller–the same issue always occurs either way.

Amazing new discovery…and Ingress progress

Coffee WarmerI just discovered this awesome coffee warming technique! It really works! When ripping DVDs, the fan runs at high speed constantly, blowing the heat out of the laptop. This is even more useful than the built-in coffee cup holder…which is only available on the laptop when I’m NOT ripping DVDs… 😉

This weekend we made a lot of progress in getting more “blue” on Kenosha’s Ingress map!  Before it was nearly all green, with the Enlightened consuming large chunks of area.  Last night we had a few large areas covered in blue, but this morning I see that most of our areas are back to simply links, so I’m afraid the Enlightened are becoming just that, and are working on re-acquiring their portals.  We have made great progress, however, and are working with a few other key Resistance allies in the area to build up our portals and hammer on the enemie’s as much as possible.

My daily walks really help our progress a great deal, allowing us to attack and gather from each portal we encounter, both on the way out and on the way back.  I’m only a few hundred points from level 3 now, and Kevin is well into level 2.  We are getting so addicted to the game, it’s ridiculous.