Tag Archives: Adobe

Mark’s Cell Phone

I gave Mark an Sony Xperia J last Christmas which he loved.  He thought it was the greatest phone ever, even if it wasn’t.  The Sony Xperia J has a memory problem that means that it doesn’t handle apps well.  I am not sure why this version of Android on this phone acts so poorly but according to the tech forums, it does.

The phone broke this summer and all of a sudden Mark’s attitude changed for the better.  So much that we had some very long talks about it.  He told me he missed being able to talk to his friends and Wendy and I via text but he didn’t really miss his phone very much.  He was kind of glad that he didn’t have it around.  He was funnier, more laid back, and said he was sleeping better.

It wasn’t the phone that was the problem, it was that he would find some time and play some games that would keep him on it for hours.  He was like a lot of youth, addicted to their phone.

So we talked about the kind of phone that we would get.  I decided on getting him a Blackberry Curve. It would let him text others and not be distracted by other stuff. Virgin Mobile’s was $150 which I found a little steep.  Telus had one for $100 so I decided to make the switch.  He isn’t under contract so I set off to Best Buy and get his phone.  While I was there, I saw they had a Nokia Lumia 520 for Windows Phone for $110.  I was torn over what phone to get but in the end it was the constant barrage of Windows Phone tweets by Darren Sproat that won me over.  I haven’t heard of anyone excited over a Blackberry since 2005.

Nokia Lumia 520

I set it up with Telus who has far inferior pre-paid plans than Virgin Mobile and gave it to Mark.  The next day the phone wasn’t working.  I called back and Telus said that they hadn’t gotten paid.  I had a receipt and a confirmation number from Mastercard and still that wasn’t enough.  It was kind of weird.  

So I took Mark’s phone to Tech Box.  I had never been in there and they unlocked the phone for $20.  It took a couple of days more than they said (the first code was slow coming and then didn’t work) but they told me that one of them would be in the office on a Sunday and to stop by.  We did, they unlocked the doors, and the phone was working.  He was thrilled.

So I set up Mark’s phone for him and I have really come to like it.  It doesn’t have all of the apps that the iPhone or Android does but I was able to get him…

  • Instagram
  • Vine
  • Twitter
  • The Score
  • BBC
  • CBC
  • CNN
  • Metro
  • TuneIn
  • A podcast app
  • Weather app
  • Photoshop

He told me today that he misses having a StarPhoenix app but other than that, he is set.  Internet Explorer isn’t that bad on the phone either.  I didn’t install any games and he is fine with that.  The phone is pretty snappy and the tiles feature of Windows 8 is designed for a phone (and not a computer screen).  It works really well.  I have told a couple of people that while I love my iPhone, I could switch to Windows Phone and be perfectly happy.   Especially when I think that I spent $110 for the phone.

There are some other cool stuff installed for apps like a transit app (that doesn’t work in Saskatoon because we don’t make our route information available like most other cities).  Bing Maps is no better or worse than Apple Maps (actually it is probably better).

So back to Mark.  He’s happy with the phone.  He likes not having a phone with the distractions of games and then frustrated over not getting other things done.  He’s like a lot of 14 year olds but with this phone, he seems to have found a mix of being connected and not being too connected.  We will see how it goes.

Essential Windows 7 Downloads

New computer means that I get to go through the process of installing new applications as well as some old favorites.  In case you are wondering, here is my list of essential Windows software downloads.

Office and Productivity

  • Open Office (free) with some excellent extensions that are now available.
  • AbiWord (free)  When I write I like a word processor that gets and stays out of my way.
  • Gimpshop (free) Based on Gimp but it has a Photoshop style interface.  It’s not quite Photoshop but it’s not $600 either.
  • Paint.net (free) another wonderful and free photo organizer
  • Picasa (free) Google’s photo organizer.  The nice thing is that allows me to easily backup all of my photos.
  • Microsoft Photo Story (free)
  • Windows Movie Maker and some add ons (free)
  • Windows Live Writer for blogging (free)
  • FreeMind (free) I have started using mind mapping software a while ago and it has helped me organize some things in my mind and also for others.
  • Google Sketchup (free) It’s another software program that isn’t a necessity but I enjoy playing with when I need to create some plans for around the house and or at the cabin.


Web Design

  • KompoZer (free) In March 2007, KompoZer was featured on Download.com’s round up on the best free alternatives to Adobe CS3, where it was favorably compared to Adobe Dreamweaver.


  • CC Cleaner (free) I just started to use this but I like it better than EZ Cleaner.
  • EZ Cleaner (free)
  • PDF Creator (free) Since I use Open Office which does a good job of publishing to PDF, I don’t use this a lot but every once in a while I need a PDF from a different program and this does a great job.
  • Fox It Reader (free) So much faster than Adobe Acrobat that it is ridiculous and should make Adobe ashamed of themselves.
  • AVG Free (free) It does daily updates, is free, and stays out of the way a lot better than other anti virus programs out there.
  • Defraggler (free) I started to use this as I find it faster and more thorough then Windows Defrag.
  • Recuva (free) Wendy and Mark tend to delete things and then empty the Recycle Bin or things like that.  This counters their best efforts.
  • Audacity (free) Basic audio editing
  • Dropbox (free) I love Dropbox.  I have it installed at home, work, and on both laptops.  Instead of always looking for a thumb drive, I transfer up to 2 gigs at a time with Dropbox.  If you aren’t using it, you have no idea how useful this service really is.

Media Players

I do use a bunch of web apps like Gmail (and Google Apps) and Google Reader.