Category: opinion

Vital Apps for the Outdoorsman

The great outdoors can be very dangerous for the unprepared, whether you like to bike or hike through the woods or camp out for weekends. Thankfully, there are a lot of smartphone apps that can help adventurers in their journey into the wild. Before going on your next adventure, you may want to consider downloading these on your phone for a hassle-free and safe journey into the unknown.

MotionX GPS

The first rule of staying safe outdoors is to avoid getting lost in places you are unfamiliar with. When your phone has the , you will be able to view your location wherever you are in the world. The best thing about MotionX GPS is that users can save maps so you won’t ever have to worry about losing your way in case the phone’s Internet connection gets cut off. You may also find your way back easily if you’ve set up a starting point, since the app will update your location with each step.

Knot Guide

One of the most useful techniques in camping is knowing how to tie knots. Knots can help build tents, help construct tools, and aid users in climbing. is a simple app that has over 100 instructions in forming knots for different situations. The app has pictures with its instructions so even complete beginners can follow the steps.

SAS Survival Guide

Ultimate SAS Survival Guide
Ultimate SAS Survival Guide

The is the adventurer’s bible. It contains a lot of tips on how you can survive perilous situations while traveling. The app was designed by a former member of Britain’s toughest fighting force so the techniques that you can learn are very practical and useful. It has over 400 pages of survival tips, 15 instructional videos, pictures of edible, medicinal, and poisonous plants, a digital compass, and quizzes to test a user’s knowledge on survival.

Mobile phones in the present days continue to amaze us. They’re not only tools for browsing or gaming, but now, an instrument for survival as well. In fact, perhaps mobile phones are the most practical device for survival we have. According to , software developer for , the mobile market continues to grow and is expected to become a $42 billion industry by 2015. The predicted figures show that smartphones are becoming essential to daily life, and therefore the most perfect tool for survival in the great outdoors.

The A.T. Manual Of Style

This is A.T.’s long-overdue list of rules and recommendations for writing style in the 21st century. Specifically, for publishing online. The list is open-ended, and items are listed in no specific order.

  1. Use one space after a period. NEVER two spaces. (Unless you are , 88 or older, or both.)
  2. Never use . No exceptions. Not ironically, not as a joke, not to be cute. Just don’t do it.
  3. It’s OK to end a sentence with a preposition. If it’s good for , it’s good for you.
  4. There is no contradiction between items 1 and 3.
  5. It’s OK to split infinitives.
  6. To be continued…

A collection of absurdly-targeted web ads

This is a follow-up to my post “Marketers know everything about us! [SARCASM]”. The absurdly-targeted web ads just keep on coming, so I decided to start a collection and post some of them here. Most won’t need an explanation; I will provide one where I think it might be needed.

My small-but-growing collection includes: an Amazon ad for shoes I just bought from Amazon; a CafePress ad for ; an ad for degrees for CIA officers; banner ads in languages I don’t understand, like Korean and Chinese.

LinkedIn astrologer professional connection suggestion
LinkedIn astrologer professional connection suggestion

COMMENTARY: LinkedIn thinks I may know and may want to connect professionally to a professional astrologer based in India.

Amazon Adidas shoe ad for shoes I just bought from Amazon
Honda banner ads in Korean and Chinese
Honda banner ads in Korean and Chinese

COMMENTARY: I speak neither language

GeoHipster t-shirts from CafePress web ad

COMMENTARY: This is my product. I am selling these . So the marketing “system” (not CafePress) is trying to get me to buy the product that I sell.

USAA understands MILITARY LIFE web ad
USAA understands MILITARY LIFE web ad

COMMENTARY: I was never in the US military, nor was anyone in my family.


COMMENTARY: I am not a CIA officer, obviously. If I were an undercover CIA officer, this ad would be even more inappropriate.

Comcast to customer: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”

Why is Comcast like Hotel California? Because “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave”.

Listen below to this pathetic, desperate Comcast service representative refusing to cancel a customer’s account. Which is why you should never, NEVER EVER become a Comcast customer in the first place.

There’s a bit of karmic irony in this story. Eight years ago (to the day!) a made the rounds, in which an AOL customer tried in vain to cancel his AOL account. In today’s call the customer is no other than .


Topics I will no longer argue about

This is a long-overdue list of Topics I Will No Longer Argue About. The list is far from complete, and I will almost certainly be adding stuff to it.

  • religion
  • politics
  • bike helmets
  • two spaces after a period
  • iOS vs. Android
  • Mac vs. PC
  • English spelling and grammar
  • what “football” is
  • what an “architect” is and does
  • the value of professional and trade certifications
  • the Oxford comma

Runaway Android apps

[UPDATE June 5, 2014] Multiple observations confirm: Instagram (which behaves (mostly) properly on Wi-Fi connections) becomes a CPU hog on carrier (cellular) connections. Not sure why, will report here if I find out more.


[UPDATE June 2, 2014] In an effort to gain a better understanding of what’s going on inside my Nexus 4, I installed two utility apps:  and . Lookout scans and monitors for malware, and offers a bunch of other security features; Watchdog alerts me when an app exceeds a certain CPU threshold.

First impressions are great. Phone runs cool. Interesting observation: When I kill Instagram — the worst offender — through Watchdog, it stays dead. By comparison, when I used to force-stop Instagram via the Android device (system) settings, it would often start up again right away by itself.


My phone (Google Nexus 4) has been getting really hot lately, draining the battery in the process. I started monitoring running Android processes and services, and found out that several apps sometimes don’t close when I tell them to, but keep running and consuming CPU cycles and battery juice. The biggest offender is Instagram, followed by Facebook (which starts on boot and keeps running (and restarts itself after a force-stop, the nerve!)), Google Play Music (which seems to randomly start itself on a whim, or possibly gets launched by Google Drive), and MailDroid (as ).

[UPDATE May 17, 2014] Adding Snapchat to the list of runaway apps that must be force-stopped after every use.

My response:

  • Remove the Facebook app, which I have been threatening to do for a while. I am not leaving Facebook, just removing the app from my phone.
  • Scale back the use of the Instagram app, and force-stop the app after each use.
  • Scale back the use of the Google Drive app, and force-stop Google Play Music after each use (confirm cause-and-effect).
    • [UPDATE from a ]: “Google support told me to uncheck the box Settings > Accounts > Google > Accounts > [myemail] > Sync Google Play Music. I had sync checked before the update as well, but it caused no problems. In any event, this didn’t do all that much good. The app is like the freakin’ Terminator — force stops won’t kill it.”
    • [UPDATE from A.T.]: Disabled Google Play Music. Problem solved.
    • [UPDATE from A.T.]: Also wiped a ton of other Google shit off my phone. It felt great.
  • Stay away from the MailDroid app.
  • Monitor Android system activity regularly for runaway apps and force-stop them as needed.
  • Reboot my phone daily.

Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar

I don’t always pick Pepsi over Coca-Cola, but when I do I pick “Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar”.

It’s a shame that my favorite drink is apparently married to the makers of HFCS (), and the only is imported into the US from Mexico.

Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar
Pepsi Throwback Made with Real Sugar

Grimmie is the new Aguilera

“The Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie blows me away. Her  of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” is currently , ahead of John Legend, Idina Menzel, and Justin Timberlake. Way ahead of coach Shakira (35) and the next closest contestant Audra McLaughlin (40).

I predict that Christina Grimmie will win The Voice, hands down.

Below is Christina’s rendition of Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball” for the blind auditions.