If Only Home Decorating Was This Simple! (Samsung Mob!lers)

No offence to my beloved moggie but I’m bored of him staring out at me from my phone. I decided to have a change. I’ve yet to decide exactly which wallpaper I want (no doubt I’ll have about seven or eight before I settle on one, which will, if I’m honest, will probably be the cat again!) but I thought I’d do a quick tutorial with the Samsung Galaxy Pro on how ridiculously easy it is to have any picture you should so desire on your phone.

I thought I’d use the above photo for a few reasons. Mainly because it’s super pretty but also because I took it on holiday (was it only two months ago?!) which brings back a happy memory and also because the content might remind me to reach for a piece of fruit, rather than a lump of cake, if I look at it often enough. So, picture chosen, I transferred it to my phone and opened it using the gallery. I then selected the ‘More’ menu and pressed the ‘Set As’ option.

I modified the image to crop the part of the photo I wanted to use then selected to have the picture spread across both home screens.

Select ‘save’ and you’re done. Here you can see how the image is stretched to fill both screens. Nifty eh? And it took me about 2 minutes to do from start to finish.

I’ve also used a neat little app called Zedge for new wallpapers (as well as ringtones) which is great if you want to change the look of your phone in even less time. Easy to use and (there’s that magic word again) free. Just type in a key word and see what pops up. You could even use a photo manipulation app like Pixlr-o-matic which adds really impressive retro effects to your photographs which you could then set as a wallpaper. The options are endless. Have fun!


Have Gogglebox Will Travel (Samsung Mob!lers)

Could you live without your TV set? I definitely could. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to watch a program as it was broadcast. When a series comes along that I really want to see (I can really only think of ‘True Blood’ and ‘Walking Dead’ at this point) I record and then burn the episodes to DVD to watch all in one go so I can stick it to the man by spinning through the ads. I’ve never been a big fan of being told what to do (or when to do it) and with the myriad of ‘on demand’ TV available online, it seems like madness (MADNESS I tell you!) to plan your life around TV schedules when you can now fit it around your own timetable.

For the most part I tend to watch online content on my laptop, simply because it’s a nice big screen but the availability of various media players (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player) on Android Market means I can also now view all my favourite programs on something more portable. Which means you can watch video anywhere………. anywhere (you know where I mean, just make sure you put your phone down before you stand up to flush!). Currently that portable device is the Samsung Galaxy Pro which is great for keeping me entertained on train journeys. I’m hoping to get my mitts on one of the frankly, gorgeous, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, which means I’ll get all the easy accessibility with a bigger screen. Can’t be bad.

It’s not just TV you can watch though, oh no, it’s movies, movie trailers and, the ever popular and seemingly never-ending, array of clips of cats doing cute things.

Recently I’ve been watching the 4th series of BBC comedy ‘Outnumbered’. I think the kids are fab though, if I’m honest, I think the older they get the less charming their antics become. Great writing, some fab ad-libs and a nice half an hour watch.

I’m forever visiting IMDB.com to answer that eternal question when watching a film – “What’s he/she been in?”. Remember the days before t’Interweb? When things like that would drive you ever so slightly mad until all of a sudden it came back to you at 3am and you sit bolt upright in bed shouting “DUNCAN!” as you *finally* remember the name of Kevin Costner’s manservant in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Just me? Oh. Anyway, now I use IMDB to view trailers too. Here’s one for Lars Von Trier’s latest, Melancholia.

I’m a big fan of Blinkbox for watching movies online. Primarily because they have a great selection of free (one of my favourite words, along with ‘all you can eat buffet breakfast’) movies, many of which are ‘video nasties’ from the 80s such as Flesh for Frankenstein and The Beyond which I’d wanted to see since watching Jake West’s (essential) documentary on the subject.

I’m not ashamed of my love of cat videos, as far as I’m concerned it’s what the Internet was invented for and if everyone watched a cute cat video once a day there would be a lot less depressed people in the world (though global productivity would probably slide). While ‘real’ cats are all well and good, there is something extra special about the Simon’s Cat videos. I never get bored of them.



Finally, I tend to use catch-up TV for viewing my guilty pleasures, stuff that I can shut off quickly, should someone come into the room and discover my dirty little secrets. Bizarre ER on BBC is one of these and, in the same vein (HA – geddit?!), Embarrassing Bodies from Channel 4. The great thing about watching online also means that when I start to feel a bit faint, as I inevitably will, I can pause it, make a cup of sweet tea, then start again. Don’t ask me why I do it to myself. I have no idea.

Who Needs a Personal Trainer? (Samsung Mob!lers)

So, a few weeks ago I was saying how we increasingly find ourselves using mobiles phones in every area of our lives. Well, guess what? I’ve found something else to use mine for.

I’ve never been a fitness freak but in recent years I’ve developed (or, more accurately, rediscovered) a love of swimming. I go at least twice weekly, it gives me a buzz and hopefully helps to counteract the less healthy bits of my life. Not to mention turning my stomach on the odd occasion, but I try not to let that put me off.

I’ve always felt at home in the water but my lessons stopped when I finished school (and most of them seemed to involve waiting for the boys to stop pushing each other in or watching my friend go into full blown panic because she had water up her nose) so I’ve never had chance to hone my style as an adult. I’ve seen posters advertising adult lessons at the pool but they tend to be for people who can’t swim at all (*laughs and points*) rather than people who want to enhance their techniques. Step forward then, the Go Swim app (a companion to the website) which provides tips and instruction, as well as photos and films, to help swimmers of all abilities improve their strokes.

I’ve found it incredibly useful, especially the pieces on warm-ups, which I never considered doing but now seem obvious, given that I often swim full pelt for over an hour at a time (yes, I know it doesn’t look like that’s possible but I promise you I’m quite a graceful beast in the water, like those ballet dancing hippos in Fantasia!).

Obviously you can check out the website when you’re online at home but it’s great having the videos on your phone to study the examples before or after your swim – I’d suggest NOT trying it during but if you’ve got an underwater phone, who am I to stop you?

Won’t Someone Think of the Children?! (Samsung Mob!lers)

When I was a nipper, my Gran was impressed (and no doubt a wee bit scared/hacked off) that I could program the video recorder whereas she had trouble turning on the TV. Some things never change and kids are still often more au fait with new technology than many of the older generations. It’s second nature to them and they have no fear of ‘pressing the wrong button’ – though this is probably because they didn’t buy whatever they’re fiddling with and so have no concept of how expensive it would be to replace.

Either way, I have it on good authority that the small annoying people (that would be children) love technology and often borrow their parents’ devices to ‘play on’ (read keep them quiet while Mummy tries to stave off the fourth migraine of the week). The guys at the Samsung Mob!lers obviously aren’t aware (and why should they be?) of my disinterest in all things kiddiefied (unless you include cartoons, stuffed animals and brightly coloured sweets which, for some strange reason, seem to be aimed primarily at kids – I quite like all of those things) and have asked me to come up with app ideas for under 5s (They’re the one’s that are about *holds hand a couple of foot above the ground* this big, yeah?). If I haven’t made it clear before, children and all the surrounding hoo-hah, do nowt for me. But hey, I like a lot of stuff that kids like, I get on pretty well with most of the ones I meet, so I’m possibly better placed to complete the mission than I first thought.

So, what did I like when I was a kid? Pretty much the same things as I like now – food, animals, films, reading (yes, I could read very early on – thanks to Mum for making me a precocious little madam). With that in mind, I think I’d like to see something that entertains and educates. I basically learnt everything I needed to know in life from watching Sesame Street, though I do now lay the blame for my fat ass squarely at the door of the Cookie Monster! I think something that allows the child to express creativity would be a great addition too. So perhaps a selection of basic words (illustrated by pictures) that can be selected (by the child) and arranged (by the app) into a story which is then spoken back to the user, while they read along. The user could illustrate the story (perhaps following a guide) and the app could animate the pictures (similar to the fantastico Draw A Stickman that seems to be doing the rounds on social networks this week). The story could be saved and/or emailed.

Cute huh? I bet something like it already exists. Unless I’ve just blogged, and given away for free, my million dollar making idea. Ach well, consider it a gift. And if anyone asks about my generosity, we’ll tell ’em I did it for the kids.

Do you have any opinions on children using technology? Do you allow your kids to play on your gadgets or do they have their own? What are their favourite apps and do they know more about how to use them than you? Or would you prefer that kids were out in the fresh air?

Blue Skies over Yorkshire (Samsung Mob!lers)

So, the weather hasn’t exactly been glorious this summer, no tan to be had in the back gardens of Hull this year. Still, I’ve had some great days out and about and Yorkshire has, as ever, done itself proud.

Over the last couple of months I’ve been getting to know my Samsung Galaxy Pro and its nifty camera. It has the capacity to produce some great shots and various effects can be achieved (I love the Retro Camera app) for quite impressive results. I thought I’d share a selection of the pictures I got over the summer holidays that show we did have the odd nice day (each one has at least a tiny slice of clear/blue sky).

Recognise anywhere?







A Day In The Life (Samsung Mob!lers)

When was the last time you spent a day without looking at your phone? Ever got to work, reached into your bag and come out empty-handed, but for a mental image of your mobile sitting all forgotten on the bedside cabinet, and suddenly felt like you’d had your right arm cut off? We can (and often do) do everything with our mobile phones now – e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.

Gone are the days of just calls and texts. Even I am surprised how much I rely on my phone on a daily basis. I never let it wander far (apart from that time I thought I’d left it on a P&O ferry to Bruges only for it to turn up in the kitchen cupboard – don’t ask me how!) and when it’s in my hand I put it to work in any number of constructive (and not so constructive) ways.

For my latest Samsung Mob!lers mission I was asked to make a video showing some of the ways I use my Galaxy Pro smartphone in an average day. Here is the result.

On the Game (Samsung Mob!lers)

Today someone on my Facebook friends list proclaimed they were an ‘Angry Birds Widow’ and that her husband had been MIA since downloading said game an hour and a half ago. We’ve all been there, be it as the marginalised, slightly confused Other Half, or as the addict themselves, repeatedly promising to turn off the phone after ‘just one more level‘.

When I first investigated apps and games I developed a strong love/hate relationship with ‘Arachnadoodle’, which I only managed to shake off when I was distracted by ‘Peggle’. After that it was ‘Plants Vs Zombies’ which kept me entertained for months until I downloaded ‘Angry Birds’ ‘just to see what all the fuss is about’. While I’m not about to rush out and buy a plush ‘Angry Bird’ and I won’t be first in the queue when the rumoured movie comes out (if the game manages to stay relevant and popular in the time it will take to make), it *is* a highly entertaining way to pass a few minutes (hours? days? MONTHS?!) when you’ve got nothing (or anything that you particularly want) to do.

I also find phone games more convenient than carrying around a gaming specific device which, truth be told, won’t fit in most of my handbags. Besides, it’s much less obvious (embarrassing? tragic?) to be sat fiddling with your phone on the bus than it is a pink Nintendo DS or some such.

I love the fact that so many games on Android Marketplace are free (my favourite price!) which gives you the opportunity to sample them without shelling out. A lot of free versions are often XYZ ‘Lite’, so, much like your favourite neighbourhood dealer, the first hit is free but when you want to go further down the rabbit hole, you have to put your hand in your pocket. Not to matter, prices are, in the main, super reasonable and, even if you’re too skint for a 69p treat (times are indeed hard), there are plenty of free options to keep your fingers very happy.

Downloading the little beasties couldn’t be easier either. Locate your Google Android Market icon (HINT – it’s the one with the little green fella on a shopping bag) and open it right up. Select the ‘Games’ icon (or, if you know the game you are looking for just type the title in) and pick your category, depending on your own gaming predilections.

Scroll down until you find a game that takes your fancy (I tend to go by the handy star rating underneath each title), check the description, screenshots, reviews and, if you’re not a ‘scattercash’ type, the price.

Then click ‘Install’. You will then be shown a list of what access the game will require to run (ie. network communication/access to Internet, reading your phone state and identity, or modifying the SD card), if you’re happy with the terms, click ‘OK’ (middle left) and  just wait for the game to install.

In a matter of minutes you’ll be good to go.

Whether you’re an avid gamer or you just want something to pass the time while travelling to work (those of you that use public transport that is – I’m not advocating ‘Angry Birding’ while driving!), there is bound to be something that does the job. For just this reason, I found my Samsung Galaxy Pro invaluable last week while hanging around Manchester and (on the return leg) Barcelona airports when I got bored with people watching and mooching around Duty Free.

In short, downloadable games are great fun, mostly free and help pass the time/drive you slightly insane. So, if your phone has the capabilities, go get some! There is, admittedly, an amount of sorting the wheat from the chaff required so, being the helpful little sprite I am, I’ve compiled a list of my current favourite five free downloads from Android Market, just for you.

Bubble Blast II has been holding my attention for a couple of days. It’s basically a logic puzzle. You have a certain amount of ‘taps’ (moves) with which to set off the bubbles popping which, in turn, pops other bubbles (depending on their size/colour). The resulting chain reaction should pop all the bubbles within the amount of ‘taps’ you have. Not particularly taxing but moderately addictive. I’m just as taken by the satisfying ‘POP!’ sound and the round of applause when you complete a level as I am with the ease of gameplay and cute graphics.

Angry Birds is ‘The Daddy’ of addictive games, it’s the one with its own help groups, for those people who just can’t stop catapulting those avian assailants at those poor piggies. It’s colourful, humorous and fiendish in its execution. I have lost literally hours playing it. Do give it a go to see what all the fuss is about, but please don’t send me the therapy bill when you get stuck on Level 19 and forget to eat/shower/go to work for a week.

Pumpkins Vs Monsters is another recent discovery of mine and it’s (*ahem*) nothing like Plants Vs Zombies….. honest. Actually, it’s only vaguely similar, insomuch as you’re fighting undead nasty monsters. Line up your coloured pumpkins and flick them at the approaching evil hordes. Great graphics and totally beguiling. Just the right level of skill/tactics needed to keep you coming back.

Being a bit of a wordy type I can’t help but enjoy Wordfeud, a ‘cross-platform multiplayer puzzle game‘ which allows you to basically play ‘Scrabble’ with anyone (real friend or ‘Internet’ friend) who also has the game on their device and wants to whoop your ass with their verbosity.

Finally, though this isn’t strictly a game, I think Androidify is an entertaining way to pass a few minutes between bus stops. Turn yourself, friends and family into an Android avatar – change the hair, clothes, height and accessories to create little green versions of everyone you know. You can then save, send and share them to your heart’s content. You can even use them as contact icons to pop up when a person calls your phone.

I hope you try/enjoy some of my suggestions and if you know of any games/apps that you think I may like, please let me know.

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