August 25, 2013

at home in the curious city

Although I catch on pretty quickly with new technology, I am always more than a little reluctant to try something new the first time. Today, my guest blogger is BDF, who actually studied computers in college. *Insert nerd snort here* As you can imagine, he is the one always introducing me to new apps and fixing the internet. BDF will share how he used his tech savvy to do a cable TV workaround for our home, and I will focus on some everyday useful apps.


We are one of the many households who have cut the cable cord. Not to say that we don’t watch movies and TV; we still watch plenty of TV. From Say Yes to the Dress to Breaking Bad. We watch all of our TV from online resources and in this post I’ll explain our setup.

Although we have an LCD Samsung TV, it is not a SMART TV so we needed a device that accesses the internet and displays it on our TV. I didn’t want to plug a laptop in and out every time we want to watch TV so we have the Acer RL70-UR10P Desktop which is a wi-fi enabled nettop that is running Windows 7. A nettop is a small computer without an optical disc drive. We needed Windows 7 because some of the websites I use to watch Korean TV shows (not dramas, more like variety shows) require Windows. Also, it's always plugged in and comes in handy when we need to look at slideshows or youtube clips. The nettop came with 2GB of ram, which isn’t enough to stream HD content smoothly so we bought an additional 2GB.

For the keyboard, we have a FAVI Entertainment SmartStick Wireless Keyboard with Touchpad Mouse, FE02RF-BL. It’s about the size of long cellphone and it does the trick. The keyboard even has a small little touchpad that allows us to point and click without needing a bulky mouse.

With this set up, we can watch almost anything we want with one exception. Sports. With the Dodgers being on FIRE and football season coming up, we need, actually I need to be able to watch the Niners play. So the next piece that will complete our set up will be a HD TV tuner. Hopefully we can get the major networks broadcasting over the air and I will test be testing this out this week to see what kind of reception we get.


I try to keep my phone simple and uncluttered without a million apps. It's hard because there are apps for just about everything out there. I tend to gravitate towards apps that are aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to use.

Evernote is my absolute favorite app, and I use it every day without a doubt. My techy alternate persona would have the elephant logo tattoed over my heart. I like that Evernote is accessible via phone and computer. You can even download the web clipper so that you can save things to Evernote directly from your browser. On grocery shopping days, I go through my recipes and type in my list on my laptop. Then when I'm at the market, I pull up my list on my phone. My favorite feature is definitely the checkbox. Nothing is more satisfying than checking off items on my Evernote. I have a few basic categories, and I use Evernote to collect links for DIY projects, my workout routines, and compilation of random research I've done. You can also share notes with others, which comes in handy when I want to share links or send BDF to the market.

Feedly is another app I use everything. I know I'm late to the RSS/feed game, but I arrived at last. I used to open up my daily links one by one in my browser. I kept hearing this buzz around Google Reader... but only because it was shutting down. In my search for an attractive but not too complicated feeder, I saw a lot of crazily complex and ugly apps. I like Feedly because I can subscribe to specific blogs, instead of having the news of all the world displayed at once. I know I could expand my use of it to fit all my needs, but I still read my news on a separate app (NPR).

Shapely is my favorite photo editing app, which I like to use in conjunction with Instagram. I seriously cannot believe Shapely is free!!! And I kind of feel sad that I'm sharing it with our dear readers because I was secretly hoarding this app. It makes my photos look that much better! I'm so greedy, I know.

Those are all the apps I can truly recommend right now. I keep it simple, and pretty low tech. A few other apps you could check out are 1) Trello - which BDF recommended to me as a project management tool. It works on both your phone and computer like Evernote does; 2) Stitcher - through which I discovered there's a whole world of podcasts out there!!! It's pretty crazy.... a podcast for every interest and every type of listener you could imagine. I only use it to listen to This American Life, which is great because otherwise I wouldn't have a chance to listen to it. If I listened more to podcasts while commuting or at work, I think I would use this app at a much higher level; 3) Day One - a daily journaling app which I only downloaded because it was free during the iTunes anniversary! It has great reviews though; 4) Everest  is a handsome app, which I wish I had more time and energy to fully utilize. It's an app that helps you reach your goals, one day at a time. And no, "start using Everest everyday" is not one of the goals in my Everest app.

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