Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Great Power Charger for Multiple Devces at a Time

We all have so many mobile devices these days and we need to have a place to charge them up...but where?  Here's an all-in-one charger that plugs into a single outlet but can charge 4 devices.
Thank goodness for the Antec Quad Port USB Charging Station. We have two of these puppies at my home. My wife uses one for all of her devices...iPad, iPhone, keyboard for the iPad and bluetooth ear piece. They are all neatly charged from a single charger.
I pack the Antec Quad Port Charging Station when we travel. It's a neat package of just USB cables to the devices and a single 110v plug. How cool is this.
The Antec Quad Port Charging Station has a single plug-in but has places for four (4) USB ports for the cables for charging. Two for higher voltage like the iPad and the other two for general devices like smart phones, etc.
The Antec Quad Port Charging Station costs $29.95 direct but can also be found on for $22.88. This is one of the most useful tech gadgets we own.
Antec Quad Port Charging Station Specifications:
  • 4 port USB
  • 2 port 1 AMP
  • 2 port 2 AMP
  • AC input: 100-240Vac, 0.8A, 50-60Hz
  • DC output: 5V
  • USB output: 2x2A, 2x1A

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My 10 Most Useful iPad Apps - June 2013

To me, a most useful app is one that I use virtually every day. It helps me get something done or provides useful information to me in a manner I can use. Since I have a vision disability I need larger print so many apps have a bias to this required feature. As a result, many very useful apps are not on my list if I cannot see it well.

I write this article regularly and some new apps move into my Top 10 while others move. This time is no exception.

My Personal Productivity apps:

Mail I am in and out of e-mail on my iPad, smart phone and laptop all through the day. I prefer the iPad's included e-mail app as I like the way it allows me to have all of my e-mail accounts appear in a single mailbox view. This is easy and convenient. The app also allows me to make the text larger so I can see it better. Included on the iPad.

Pocket Informant Pro
I've tried many calendar apps on my iPad as I look at the calendar every day. I am always looking for one where I can get the text large enough for me to read as well as be a good calendar. Pocket Informant is more than a calendar though. I have my contracts, to do list and notes all in one. I have returned to Pocket Informant Pro but I am still looking. $14.99.

Nightstand Central
Since I have to charge the iPad and I need a nightstand alarm clock with very large letters; Nightstand for iPad fits the bill perfectly. I just set the iPad up as my night stand alarm clock and plug it in to charge. The numbers are 1 3/4 inches tall, shows the weather for my location and I can even dim the screen so it doesn't light up the room all night.
FREE but there is a pay version that allows for your own background photos as wall paper. FREE with a $2.99 version that allows for your own photos as a background.

Social Media:

Tweetbot (alternate Twitter app)
I am in and out of Twitter every day and post a link to this Tablet Grandpa blog on Twitter. It took me a while to understand and then love what Twitter provides. It shows short and easy to read quips, information and links to what people are saying and I get to choose the people. See my article on how Twitter is useful.
I gladly paid the $2.99 since I can easily read it throughout the day.

I have a love / hate relationship with Facebook and Facebook replacement apps. Replacement Facebook apps have some extra features beyond Facebook's own app and I like that but none of them have everything. What irks me most is that I cannot enlarge the text enough to make it comfortable to read. I put up with it because I really enjoy staying in touch with my friends and family and communicating with some of them. Eventually, someone will make that perfect blend of features and ability to enlarge the text for me. Until then love / hate it is. FREE

My News and Information sources:

For reading news, blogs and other articles on the web; I've used an RSS (really simple syndication) reader to pull articles into a single place where I can skim and go to the detail if I choose. I've used Google Reader for many years but Google has decided to discontinue it in July 2013. Feedly also works on my Android smart phone too. FREE

AP Mobile
There are many news apps for the iPad, some of which I like very much but none allow me to enlarge text enough to make them comfortable to read. That's right, AP mobile is the only one I have found so far. Also available for iPhone and Android smart phones. FREE

Contra Costa Times (part of the Bay Area News Group)
A new entry to my Top 10 Most Used iPad Apps. My local newspaper has had an iPad app for about 2 years but it was so slow and aggravating that I gave up on it. Well, they improved the performance and I am as happy as can be. My local newspaper, easy and enjoyable to read and I can even share individual articles via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. FREE but requires a subscription.

I love to read but it so difficult with my vision disability. I require large text and a nice contrast between the task and paper in order to see properly. As a result, books and newspapers are out. However, Pocket saves me because I can "clip" web sites, web articles and other news on the web to Pocket where I have the text set to very large on a very white background. Via my smart phone, I can "share" tweets from bloggers that will put the bloggers article right into Pocket where I can read it comfortably. Pocket also strips out web and blog advertising and just shows you the text and included pictures. Pocket is FREE.

Intellicast HD
I am a bit of a weather junkie and have used many free and paid weather apps for the iPad. Beyond being easy to read, I love looking at radar images of weather. I can see a 2 week forecast as wells as an hourly forecast over the next 24 hours. Many free weather apps limit you to one or just a few weather locations but Intellicast allows many cities. Intellicast is my current weather app of choice but I continue to look at the latest and greatest weather apps. FREE

My Personal Health app:

MyFitnessPal Calorie Counter
Over the past months I have been on a weight loss program initiated by myself under a doctor's care. Monitoring calories and exercise are two elements and this little gem of an app has kept me informed and provided needed information about calorie intake. MyFitnessPal's screens allow you to quickly and easily enter your food consumption by meal item and portion size to give your precise calories consumed. It's database of food items as wells as a very large list of common restaurant menus, show a very accurate calorie intake count. This way you can precisely know throughout the day how many calories you've partaken or, more importantly, how many calories you have left that you can eat. Exercise is very important to weight loss and how many calories burned from it.
I track calories, water intake (64 oz. per day for most of us), cardio and strength exercises, weight and inches for waist, hip and neck. Available for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone 8. See my article about MyFitnessPal. FREE

Here are a few apps that I like very much and use frequently--just not every day.
eWallet Go to remember my passwords.  $4.95
Flixster Movies to see the next show time wherever I am.  FREE
Microsoft OneNote for personal and other notes to save.  FREE
Evernote. Also for note taking but a little different from OneNote. I can't decide which. See my article about Evernote.  FREE
Penultimate for quick and easy note taking on the fly. See my article about Penultimate. FREE

Please share your favorite iPad apps so we can all experience them too. Thanks.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Windows 8 and the Start Button--It RETURNS!

The Windows Start Button is coming back with Windows 8.1 but that's not until October. But wait, you can get it now with any one of these apps.


Lots of talk, good and bad, on Windows 8 and that's pretty normal as seen over the past 20 years or so for Microsoft. I too have an opinion on Windows 8 and it's mostly good. How's that you say.

A few months ago I wrote articles asking the question, should I upgrade to Windows 8 and should I get a new PC with Windows 8. I love technology and I don't mind change so that makes me a bit abnormal. Beyond that, Windows 8 has some good and some bad but what doesn't. To put my word down, I like Windows 8 and can live with the deficiencies until the next version, 8.1, due out in October. Windows 8.1 will deliver much for those that won't need the "touch" features or Windows 8 on a tablet. That means people will use, what is called, the "desktop" which reminds us of Windows 7 but with better performance and other good features.
That brings me to today's article. Until Windows 8.1 drops in October, we can get the Start Button back now and skip the "Metro" or "Windows 8 Start Screen" and go right to the Desktop that looks like the familiar Windows 7.
I currently use Classic Shell. Classic Shell provides you with 3 choices of a Windows Start Button. Windows Classic, Windows Vista/7 or even that of Windows XP. I'll be many of you are smiling large right now.
Graphic Credit: Erez Zuckerman, PCWorld
By the way, Classic Shell is FREE.

Start Menu 8 is another FREE app that provides an almost perfect copy of the Start Menu--the resulted menu seen when clicking the Start Button. Be warned though. Start Menu 8 asks permission to install other Paid software. I don't like this one bit myself but wanted to share.

Skip Metro Suite 3.0 allows you some really nice flexibility with the Windows 8 Start Menu as well as letting you skip the Windows 8 Start Screen and go right to the Desktop. I have this program installed and used it for about 2 days and stopped. I just don't mind seeing the Start Menu. I bypass it with a single click or the return key as the Desktop tile is in the upper left or first position and hitting Return executes the first tile.
Skip Metro Start Screen is another FREE app.
Adds a Start Button to the Windows 8 Desktop
Adds an enhanced Windows 7-style menu
Pin Windows 8 apps(the modern Start Screen apps) to the start menu
Allows you to directly boot to the Windows 8 Desktop--bypassing the Start Screen
The cost is $5.00 although there is a 30 day trial.

UPDATE:  A friend shared another Start Button program for Windows 8 called Vistart. I didn't try it myself but it looks pretty good (see the graphic below). It too is FREE.
Graphic Credit: ViStart

For those cautious about Windows 8, and I don't really blame you; here is a new, 36 page Windows 8 End User Training Brochure that is very much worth reading before you invest in a Windows 8 PC or upgrading to the Windows 8 operating system. Microsoft calls this a training brochure but I think of it as the perfect Quick Start Guide to Windows 8. The only downside to this document is that there are 2 pages that are either too technical or not practical for novice PC users like us. Other than that, the guide is terrific and will only take you about 15 minutes to get through. I wish this guide was introduced right with Windows 8 but I'm only crying for a moment.
Please share your thoughts on Windows 8 by writing a comment below.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Office Replacements for iOS and Android


Android and iOS Won't See Microsoft Office until October 2014 Says Microsoft. Other office productivity apps are here and will have time to improve and gather customers until that time or will consumers purchase a Windows 8 tablet so they can use Office 2013? Only time will tell. Let's take a look at what is out there now. Unless otherwise noted an app will include a replacement word processor, spreadsheet and presentation app.


I've found quite a list of Office type apps but I have not tried them all. The purpose of this article was to put together a list to save all of you some time. Closing the one for you can be very personal. Many will only look at Free while others will be willing to pay since they might spend more time with the app. S far I am using Quick Office HD even though it will connect with Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud service.


Microsoft OneNote, a note taking tool that synchronizes via the web like Evernote, is part of Microsoft Office and there is an iOS and Android version right now. Not so for Word, Excel or PowerPoint and Microsoft now says Office for iOS and Android to be available October 2014. What does one do in the mean time? Wait or try something else until then.


Software iOS Android
Quick Office Pro HD. iOS - $14.99. Android - $14.99
Quick Office. Free
Documents To Go Standard-Office Suite. $9.99.
Documents To Go Premium.
Documents To Go Main App. Android - FREE. Documents to Go Full App. Android - $14.95

Apple's Pages, Numbers and Keynote. $9.99 each.
Google Drive. Free. Formerly Google Docs
OnLive Desktop.
SkyDrive. Office Apps Free. Found at and works on iOS and Android devices.

Smart Office 2.
Documents Free (mobile office suite). Free
Office Suite 7 Viewer for Android - FREE. Office Suite 7 Pro. Android - $14.99

Polaris Office Viewer Android. Free.

Polaris Office. iOS $19.99 down to $12.99. Android - FREE
Kingsoft Office. Android - Free

Assistant - For Office. $9.99



Please share comments about which app you like or dislike. I would love to hear.