making peace

I’m three weeks into owning an Android phone and getting used to it.

Of course, that’s not the same thing as liking it or loving it. My Windows phone still makes more sense to me. I made fewer errors with the Windows keyboard, and the phone felt faster. Plus, I just like the interface. In the unlikely event WinPhones are around in their current form come the day I no longer have to run something else, I will bolt back to them ASAP.

But the Note II is proof that you can get used to anything, given a little time and work. Textra, the drop-in replacement texting program, all of a sudden alerted me Friday that my “free trial” had ended, and I was about to be pummeled with ads. Since advertising is the bane of Android anyway, I shelled out the $2 to keep running the ad-free version. While I was at it, I spent $7 to buy the ad-free version of MoneyWise, the spending program I use.

Neither program is as good their Windows counterpart as far as I’m concerned, but they’re both ok, so I move on. (In fairness, they’re both fine – I just like the clean, streamlined design of WinPhone apps better.)

And I figured out how to set the phone so that it makes a specific noise when I get text messages, and another noise for the other gazillion alerts the phone throws off. By itself that improves my life, since I’m now able to ignore the phone most of the time.

Also, Instagram is better on this phone than the perpetual beta was on my WinPhone. I mention that only because there’s no official way to update Instagram from the desktop, so I have to use my phone. Writing captions is easier.

I tried to install Adblock Plus from the Amazon store the other day, but on my phone at least, the program appears to be broken. I don’t mind advertising that’s sane, but like a lot of people writing about the subject, I very much mind what advertising has devolved to on the web/mobile, the constant in-your-face pop-ups and pop-unders, the obvious scams, the way it gums up everything. Traditional advertising is about brand awareness and creating want. What we have now is something else, something evil. I pay for a lot of what I use anyway, and I’d gladly keep trading my dollars for a less screwed up internet.

So as a result of the current issues with advertising and blocking software, I’m very, very careful with this phone about where I go and what I look at. One of the unintended consequences of the WinPhone was that it was mostly immune to the spam/malware problem, since the bad guys couldn’t be bothered writing to the platform. I’m a homebody anyway, with most of my time on the phone spent on only a few apps – and I’m always looking to get rid of what I don’t regularly use.

Battery life continues to be a plus. Since we have no open wifi at work, I use my phone as a hot spot if I’m in late at night and want to stream a podcast or music to the tablet I keep in my office, which is currently rigged to the Tivoli radio next to my desk. I would love to listen to more radio, but my office basically amounts to a giant Farady cage. I’m in almost the middle of a brick and metal building. And it’s a TV station. The Note II can supply wifi for a couple of hours and still have half a charge on it, which is a lot better than any of the WinPhones I owned.

Really, that’s how my relationship with this phone goes. I keep poking at it, finding the occasional advantage, fixing some of the things I don’t like, working around the rest. When the phone was turned over to me, I was told the keyboard would arbitrarily quit. That hasn’t happened, but another problem has – sometimes I call, or answer a call, and the other side can’t hear me. I don’t know if that’s a phone problem or network problem; my memory is the WinPhone did the same thing, though not as often. (And maybe it was when I was calling this phone.) Redialing always fixes it, but it’s annoying. In general though, the phone works, I live with it, and I think a little less about it as time goes on, which is – I suppose – a good thing.

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