Sports. Pop culture. Ideology. Yes, I do have an opinion on just about everything -- and I'm not afraid to share it with anyone.
OK, I have to do a better job of writing, posting and general upkeep on this site. I will do that. Promise!
Until then … courage!
A lot of people I know are switching over to Android phones. Good for you! Of course, since I spend a good part of my day searching and researching Android news and apps, a lot of people have asked me what are some of the best apps to download if you’re just getting started in the world of Android. Well, instead of responding individually, I’ve put together a list here that I think should suffice. If you have any questions, comments, etc., feel free to get in touch with me. Granted, these are my thoughts and opinions, yours may vary:
First off, know what version of Android you’re running. Right now, the highest out (for almost all phones) is Version 2.2.1, which I have on my Droid X.
A list of apps I find I can’t live without and are a must-have for Android. You can play around in the Android Market and see what all you like, but here’s my list and a brief explanation of why you should download it.
1.) Lookout: First and foremost, download Lookout for your phone. It’s a backup program, but it also scans any new app you download. I recommend setting up an account online (mylookout.com) and syncing your phone. Most of the really good stuff is free. They do have a premium version, but I really haven’t seen the need for it. The free version does everything you need. Make this your first priority.
2.) Facebook: You should already have a Facebook app on the phone, but if not, go ahead and get it. Log in and everything should be set up for you. There are several “Facebook-like” apps out there, but nothing better than the native app, yet. Just stick with Facebook.
3.) AppBrain: The Android Market is good, but AppBrain is where you want to go to find all the cool apps that aren’t on the Market. Just go to AppBrain.com and you can log in with your GMail account. Once you sync your phone, you’re golden. It’ll download any app you want directly to your phone. It’s the best out there.
4.) Plume: Now, there are several Twitter apps out there. I’ve used the native Twitter app (which isn’t bad), I’ve used UberTwitter (now, UberSocial) and even Hootsuite. While I use Hootsuite on my computer, I think Plume is probably the best Twitter app out there right now, but you can download the others and see what you think. UberTwitter was nice, but really bulky. Plume hardly takes up any space.
5.) Astro: It’s a media/file manager. The free version is the best out there. You should pick that up.
6.) arcMedia: Will play just about any kind of audio or video file you’d put on your phone. Another great app for this would be …
7.) DoubleTwist: A must-have. Audio, video, it plays it all. Well worth it, especially if you’re watching something streaming online.
8.) Barcode Scanner: Scans any type of bar code, whether it’s a regular bar code or a QR code, but you’ll need to have one and this is the best out there right now.
9.) Battery Watcher: The one bad thing about the Droid phones is the battery life. They suck. So getting Battery Watcher will tell you how low your battery has gotten and what’s taking up the most juice.
10.) Your standard Google apps: Maps, GMail, Books, Goggles, Earth, Translate, GTasks, etc. Pick up all your Google apps.
11.) Handcent SMS: The best text messenger out there. Another must-have. There are others out there, but Handcent is the best.
12.) Poynt: This was a staple for me when I had my Blackberry and I’m so glad they finally added it to the Android Market. If you ever used it on Blackberry, it’s the same thing in the Android Market. If not, then you definitely need to pick it up. It’s an all-in-one 411 reference app and it’s 100 percent free.
13.) Dolphin Browser: The stock browser on the Android phone is crap. You could go one of two ways here - Opera or Dolphin. Opera isn’t bad (I have it on my phone as well) but right now, Dolphin Browser is the best out there.
14.) Pandora: If you want to listen to music without having to pop open an MP3 player, then you should try Pandora. The free version is somewhat limited, but would suit what you need it for. You can also try Last.fm. Most folks like Slacker Radio, but it’s not as decent as the other two apps.
15.) Music Downloader Pro: Whatever song you can probably think of, you can use this app to download it - free. The mp3 will download directly to your phone, no issues or problems. Great app to have.
16.) Bank app: Depending on where you bank (BofA, Wachovia, Chase, etc.) they have an app. I have one on my phone. It’s worth having. Also insurance, depending on what insurance you have (State Farm, Nationwide, etc.) there should be an app available, too. Nice to have an electronic insurance card in case I need it!
Now, all of these apps are free. I usually don’t like paying for apps. However, there are a few exceptions:
1.) PowerAmp: Hands down the best music player on the market. If you have MP3s on your phone (I have around 100 or so) then it’s a good app to have.
2.) TV Shows Stream: This has become my new favorite app. Every TV show you can imagine is available. Total cost of the app is around $4, which is a one-time fee. After that, you can watch shows that are on network, cable, Showtime, etc. It’s how I’ve been able to catch up on Californication and Mad Men.
That’s about all I can think of for the time being. There are other apps out there for sheer play time (the lightsaber app, games (like Angry Birds, which is addictive), the Magic 8-ball, etc. You’ll just have to search around and see what all you like, but the stuff above is really where you should start.
Not even into her first full week, new South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is ready to end any and all state funding for the arts, which would kill many, many arts programs in the state, including closing the door on ETV. Here’s a story that will appear in Friday’s edition of the (Rock Hill) Herald:
Local artists and arts organizations will feel the sting if the state Legislature adopts Gov. Nikki Haley’s proposal to eliminate state funding for the arts.
Haley recommends eliminating all state funding for the South Carolina Arts Commission and ETV which provides public television and radio programming.
For the arts commission, losing $2.3 million from the state would mean closing the doors, which have been open since 1967, said executive director Ken May.
If that happens, the Arts Council of York County will lose more than $20,000 in state and federal funding – that’s about 6 percent of the budget, said Debra Heintz, the arts council’s executive director.
State funding to the arts council has been dwindling, Heintz said. Fifteen years ago, the council received $50,000 from the commission. Last year, it received $23,000.
But arts organizations and nonprofits are “already operating on a shoestring budget,” said Heintz, uncertain how the council – with it’s five employees running three venues and all programming –would absorb the cuts should the come.
Haley’s proposal – delivered in her first State of the State address Tuesday night at the Statehouse in Columbia – comes as no surprise to Heintz or May.
“We’ve anticipated that this is a likely point of view the governor would have, and we understand that this state is facing big challenges,” May said.
But cutting the arts, while an easy choice, might not be the best or most informed choice, said Heintz.
The arts industry accounts for $7 million in the local economy and 210 full-time jobs in York County, according to an economic impact study conducted by the county arts council.
Events funded by the arts council last year attracted 169,000 attendees from 156 cities, 32 states and four countries, and those visitors often spend money in local restaurants, hotels and other businesses, Heintz said.
Eliminating – instead of trimming – the state arts commission budget would eliminate anyone “at the state level looking at a big part of our economy,” May said.
The arts feed innovation in both the public and private sectors, creating an “ecology” which drives the economy, he said.
The arts commission also helps ensure that all people have equal access to the arts, not just “city dwellers” or the wealthy, May said. Commission programs fuel arts curriculum in schools; provide professional development for artists; and help organizations and artists establish credibility that helps them earn other patrons and donors, May said.
Since 2005, the arts commission has invested $1.8 milllion to support the arts in York County.
The funding went to the arts council and other groups such as the Rock Hill Community Theatre and the Catawba Cultural Preservation Project. The commission also has provided funding and support for schools, particularly Northside Elementary School of the Arts in Rock Hill and the Clover school district.
“It’s worthy, it’s important and it’s necessary to have someone paying attention at the state level,” May said.
Local legislators weigh in
The proposed cuts will help the state “get back to core functions of government,” state representatives said.
“The arts are a vital part of the community,” said state Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill. But they’re less important when trying to fund “medicine for children and the Medicaid program, … law enforcement – the basic needs that the government provides,” he said.
“Art is nice, but it’s an elective,” said Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill. He hopes the Legislature will find ways to incorporate arts into existing programming and fund them with grants instead of state money.
State Rep. Tommy Pope, R-York, and Norman said they hope the private sector will increase its support of arts organizations.