I had a hard time deciding on what to post today. Between our District quiz yesterday and March Madness’ Selection Sunday, I had a lot of thoughts on competition, persistence, and focus, but I am not really feeling it today and want to post something meaningful, not just mail it in about how great Belgium is (just kidding, I really liked that post).
I also thought about writing about some of the personal insights I have had as I have been trying to be less of a curmudgeon, but that is still a work in progress and I haven’t been as good at that as I would have liked. Additionally, I really am not in a deep, contemplative mood, so again, I will save that for another day.
Truth be told, today is one of those days where I want to either go on a drive or stay home and crack open a good book, so I decided to spend this time on my recommendations for mobile and other apps as promised in my Windows apps blog.
I want to start with a couple of apps for both mobile devices and computers that I consider necessary from a security and privacy point of view. The first is a class of applications called VPN software. VPN stands for virtual private network and it is basically an application that let’s you create an encrypted connection to a server and then all your traffic is routed through that server encrypted to wherever you want. The advantage of this is that you look like you are wherever the server you connect to is located, so if you connect to a server in London, all your traffic looks like it originates from there. This can be useful for watching shows not available in your area, and many other things. The main thing is your traffic is encrypted the entire time. The downside is it will slow down your connection because of the distances the route covers.
My preferred VPN applications are from PIA (Private Internet Access) at www.privateinternetaccess.com, which allows complete anonymity by accepting gift cards as payment and they do not retain any network traffic logs, meaning your access patterns will not be kept and sold off to advertisers. I have also started using a second one called Pure VPN that I found on citizengoods.com. They have a number of good lifetime deals. Just search on VPN and they will all show up. The main thing is to find one with lots of servers (the more, the better)and hopefully one that does not keep access logs. If you have any questions, leave a comment and I can help you one on one.
The second mobile and computer app I use regularly is Last pass from www.lastpass.com. It is a free password vault and password generator that works great for logging into websites, etc. You create an encrypted vault local to your machine and then the encrypted file is stored by LastPass so that you can access it across all of your devices. You can set up 2-factor authentication which uses your cell phone or sms messages to confirm it is you logging in, and they never have your password. This is a two-edged sword in that you will need to remember that 1 password and it should be a difficult one. I recommend picking 3 to 5 words that mean something to you, and using them as one big password with capital letters, numbers replacing letters, etc. This will give you a really strong lock on your encrypted vault. I have also started letting it create strong random passwords for me online except for accounts that I share, and I am very pleased with how Last Pass does their strong passwords.
Okay, on to mobile apps. Since today is selection Sunday for March Madness, the first two apps are designed to help with your basketball viewing. The official NCAA March Madness app and the ESPN app are great for keeping up with the games and, if you have wifi or good cellular, you can watch games live on the NCAA app. Sometimes, though, you find yourself in a location where a game (or other TV show) is on but muted to where you can’t hear it. For that there is an app called Tunity. Tunity lets you use your camera to scan the TV screen and it finds the show that is playing and streams the audio to your phone, which, with headphones, makes for a great viewing experience in noisy places.
Next up – video apps. For these I really just use four primary ones. I have amazon video, Netflix, YouTube, and Flixter. Between these I can watch my digital copies of movies I own, short videos pond almost any topic, and of course anything in the Netflix and Amazon libraries. I generally use Netflix or Amazon on the treadmill because they have reliable captions and I listen to music while I run to keep a steady pace.
Speaking of music, I used to use an iPod all the time, but have since moved to Spotify and Pandora for music (particularly running mixes at a set steps per minute) and Overdrive and Audible for audio books to listen to while driving or flying. Between those four and my own music files, I am pretty set.i also like iheartradio for keeping up with specific radio stations and shows.
Finally, besides the standard social media and productivity apps, I also use the Microsoft Office suite on my android devices, the Life Church Bible app, and a number of travel apps. The Microsoft Office apps are free and are very well adapted for Android, and when combined with their cloud drive, can let you work on docs both on the mobile device and computer.The Bible app I like because I can download most versions for free and annotate, highlight passages, etc.
Anyway, I hope these give you some ideas and would welcome your input and additional apps I haven’t listed in the comments below.