A Dozen of My Favorite Free Android Apps

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Look, I know there are a thou­sand-and-one posts on the in­ter­net about the best smart­phone apps. I’ve a bunch of apps on my phone, and I use some more fre­quently than oth­ers. However, I want to share the ones that I en­joy which might not be so ubiq­ui­tous.


  • ConnectBot — This app con­nects you with a Unix ter­mi­nal, re­motely and se­curely to an­other IP ad­dress, and does the same thing lo­cally. It works great if you’re tweak­ing the per­mis­sions of your phone.
  • Advanced Task Killer — This app lets you quit pro­grams that you’re run­ning in the back­ground or for­get to exit, with just two taps. It re­ally helps me save on bat­tery life and showed me which pro­grams keep turn­ing on all the time. I used ConnectBot to dis­able them.
  • Remote Desktop — Rather than have to plug my phone into my com­puter via USB to down­load pho­tos, &c. or pay for a ser­vice to sync items, this ap­pli­ca­tion lets me con­nect to my phone via IP ad­dress when I’ve got it con­nected to my home wire­less.


  • Google Reader — This is a well known piece of the Google pie, but this app works so much bet­ter than us­ing Reader on a com­puter that I find my­self brows­ing through on my phone when there’s a com­puter within arm’s reach.
  • iPa­per — This is the Android app that al­lows ac­cess to InstaPaper, a book­marklet ser­vice that al­lows you to archive web ar­ti­cles for read­ing at a later date. Perfect for when you’re stuck some­place with noth­ing worth read­ing nearby.


  • Sit Ups — This app helps you set a sit up goal, as­sesses your phys­i­cal con­di­tion and then tai­lors an it­er­a­tive and timed work­out to help you reach the goal. Pick a goal, in­put your start­ing abil­ity, fol­low the work­out prompts (a gym whistle blows when the rest pe­riod is over), and then in­put how dif­fi­cult you found the work­out. The next ses­sion will be changed slightly based on your feed­back.
  • Push Ups — Same deal, ex­cept for pushups.


  • Star Traders — This is a space trad­ing, turn-based econ­omy RPG that’s pretty bru­tal. Small choices have cu­mu­la­tive im­pacts on how you can in­ter­act with the var­i­ous plan­ets you visit. It has re­ally tough achieve­ments too. The Elite ver­sion is $1.99 and gives ac­cess to bet­ter ship up­grades, more mis­sions and more plan­ets.
  • Scrambled Net — A sim­ply de­signed but ad­dic­tive puz­zle game. Connect the tubes from the server to the mon­i­tors to make sure every­one has some in­ter­nets. I play this all the time.
  • Geared — This is an­other puz­zle game (with very pleas­ing graph­ics). With a lim­ited num­ber of gears of dif­fer­ent sizes, and a lim­ited amount of space to work with, you have to con­nect the mov­ing yel­low gear too all of the sta­tion­ary blue gears.


  • Color Note — Because of this app, I no longer walk about with lit­tle scraps of note pa­per flut­ter­ing about me like moths. The gro­cery check­list is my boon com­pan­ion. I don’t for­get stuff on the list any­more!
  • Toddler Lock — This se­cures the phone so your off­spring can play with it. I lit­er­ally have to wrestle the phone away from Abraham when he uses it. Swiping lets you draw, tap­ping places shapes, and there are pleas­ant chimes play­ing all the while.

Old and Young and Old

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I re­mem­ber when I was a bat­tal­ion in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer in World War II, in Northern Italy.


We were pass­ing through these lit­tle old towns. The houses weren’t big, but all the gen­er­a­tions were there. The old weren’t put out to pas­ture. They were our best means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. They were what civ­i­liza­tion is about: hu­man his­tory, work, gen­er­a­tions. Old ones, grand­par­ents, even great-grand­par­ents, talked to the lit­tle ones, and fas­ci­nated them. It was the oral tra­di­tion, gen­er­a­tion af­ter gen­er­a­tion. Instead of watch­ing tele­vi­sion, the child lis­tened to the old one, learn­ing his his­tory of dreams and won­der.

Our young haven’t lost their his­tory, it was taken from them. We’ve stuffed them into a pro­crustean bed. Remember him? Procrustes? If the guest didn’t fit, he’d cut him or stretch him. That’s what we’re do­ing to our young, mak­ing them fit.

Here is a child, born with a sense of won­der, ready to ad­mire and love what is seen and ex­pe­ri­enced. We say, “Watch it now, a lit­tle bit less, cool it, cool it,” un­til this ex­tra­or­di­nary sense of won­der is re­duced to noth­ing.


If the old per­son can’t lis­ten any­more, he per­pet­u­ates the er­rors of his an­ces­tors. You don’t need him. You need to say, “All right, Grandpa, when did you last change your mind about any­thing? When did you last get a new idea? Can I help you change your mind while you help me change mine?”

David Brower, as quoted by Studs Terkel in his book of oral his­tory, Coming of Age