This is a place for me to share and document personal interests such as music, technology, and other writing. Please enjoy; I love to receive comments and hear back from you! And if there is something you'd like me to record or a tech question, please let me know! For more of an overview, see the "Who Am I?" and "Ministry Passions" tabs above.

ios vs android

I recently switched from an iPhone 5 running ios7 to a Moto X running Android 4.2.2 (Jellybean). If I've already lost you, probably you should stop reading. :) But this is "Tuesday Tech" after all, and I thought some of my readers might be interested in my observations and comparisons. These are anecdotal, not scientific; but I do pay pretty close attention to settings, usage, and usability. So consider this a real-world comparison. In some cases, I know what is specifically "Moto X" (model) and what is more generally Android (operating system). I'll comment on that in a final section. I also am realizing that this could get very long, so I'm just going to mention the more significant things (to me) and leave what seem like secondary differences for another day. What is More or Less the Same
  • APPS: I was pleased to discover that my most-used apps from the iPhone were also available for Android; in most cases, I could even sign back in with my same user name and password and my data appeared (for example, with my fitness app). I had not invested a LOT of money for paid apps on iTunes, so that was not a big issue. (But do see note on apps below on "Where I miss the iPhone.")
  • SIZE: Unlike a number of other flagship Android phones, the Moto X is approximately the same size as the iPhone 5 (which I like).
  • VOICE CONTROL: So far, the Google Now touchless control and Siri seem roughly comparable, though I've had some better success with Google Now than I did with Siri.
Where I Like the Moto X/Android
  • GOOGLE: I probably most enjoy the integration between all things Google and the Android operating system. If you don't know, Google created it AND I think partnered with Motorola on the Moto X, so this phone is made for Google-users... and I am a big Google-user (and fan). SIDE NOTE: the iPhone played well with Google - in some ways for me as a Windows user more so than it's own native apps; but there was a noticeable step-up in Google connectivity with the Android/MotoX.
  • BATTERY LIFE: once I figured out that the Weather App was constantly accessing GPS and turned that off, I am getting 15-16 hrs. on the Moto X compared to 10-12 on the iPhone 5 with similar usage. (I know usage varies, so the best thing I know to do is compare my usage to myself.)  I've actually enjoyed enough extra battery from the Moto X that I find myself using it more throughout the day than I did with the iPhone. The Moto X/Android also has an effective battery utility for squeezing the last little bit of life out at the end. I think I could probably go 17-18 hrs. before actually having it shut down on me. (Now, if I take a bunch of video or upload on 3G or some other intensive activity, that will shorten; but nonetheless, it's longer by 15-25% than what I got from the iPhone.)
  • SCREEN: while I have read the specs that the Moto X screen is not as high def as the iPhone screen, it is plenty clear and bright and more than makes up for it with the accessibility settings for larger fonts. I have trouble reading the tiny default type on the iPhone. The accessibility settings there help in SOME apps, but not others; on the Moto X/Android, setting the font size higher helps in MOST apps and I can read much more easily
  • TYPING: I stumbled across this in an article, but the slide-to-type feature built in to Android works very well and may almost DOUBLE my typing speed on the phone. (I think there is an app available on Android or ios7 for this, but it's now built in to Android.)
  • SPEAKER: The audio speaker is usefully louder on the Moto X
  • NOTIFICATIONS: after adjusting to the differences, I prefer the notification system on the Moto X/Android, both in how it displays and in how easy it is to get to the full notice or action; this will probably vary significantly by user
  • HOME SENSOR/BUTTON: While a small thing, I have had several Apple devices (iPod Touch and iPhones) where the home button has worn out and stopped functioning. The comparable home button on the Moto X (and most or all Android phones) is on the screen rather than a part of the hardware. (It actually is a piece of hardware - a sensor; but with fewer moving/breakable/wearable parts than the Apple 'button'). Likewise, the button to show all running programs is a separate sensor next to the home sensor... the same thing on the iPhone requires a double-press of the home button, which puts more wear and tear on it.
  • BACK SENSOR: Speaking of button/sensors, I also like the far left 3rd sensor on the Moto X, which functions as a 'back' or 'previous' button. I use this frequently and it wasn't present on the iPhone.
Where I Miss the iPhone
  • AD-FREE APPS: I mentioned above that most of the apps I use were also available on Android for free. What is surprisingly missing for several apps is the ability to pay a little to remove ads. I'd gladly do so (and had on the iPhone), but those ad-free versions are not even available for Android. I suppose it's a different profit-structure for Google, but it's frustrating to have no other options.
  • MORE ELEGANT APPS: I was surprised to see that the Apps I was using looked a generation OLDER on Android. I know that many apps freshened up their appearance with the release of ios7, but some of my Android Apps look even older than the pre-ios7 versions. I don't understand that if the App is by the same creator... maybe they think Apple users need the more polished experience? It's more of a surprise than a bother (though some of the fresher Apple versions actually included helpful tweaks to the use and not just the look).
  • QUICK-SETTINGS MENU: Though I wasn't a huge fan of the aesthetic change that came with ios7, one feature that made it worth the change for me was the quick settings menu that you can swipe up from the bottom. It provides access to a number of features I frequently accessed (toggling wifi, airplane mode, flashlight, alarm clock, brightness, airplay, bluetooth, etc...). Android has a similar (swipe-down) menu, but it shows active notifications and the quick-settings menu comparable to ios7 is a button available from there. So, there is an extra step to get to it. Not a huge thing, but I probably do access it 20x a day and miss the quick(er) access on the iPhone.
  • CAMERA: while the megapixels are roughly comparable between the two phones (Moto X might even be higher), I am finding that the iPhone had better lighting adjustments and produced better-composed pictures and video. Basically, tapping the iPhone screen set focus and light balance; the Moto X camera only taps to focus. The zoom, while not great on the iPhone, produced better results than the zoom on the Moto X.
  • AIRPLAY: I realize Airplay is only useful if one has an Apple TV, but this was a feature I used frequently at home and work. I understand the Moto X/Android can do this with the Google Chromecast key, but at not the same quality and with select content.  (I do still have an iPad, so I'm not completely cut off; but, the most frustrating piece is taking video on the Moto X and not being able to quickly or easily show it on the bigger screen.)
  • GYRO/ACCELEROMETER/GPS: one of my primary uses for the phone is to track my running; my impression thus far is that either the gyro, accelerometer, or GPS on the Moto X is not as precise as on the iPhone 5. When I looked at my stats on the iPhone after a run, I'd see a smoother graph of my speed. The Moto X graph of speed is up and down (it averages out the same, but looks like it is checking at an interval rather than steadily).  Now I also moved where I carry the phone from my upper arm (iPhone) to my pants pocket (Moto X), so it may be that the phone senses a different motion; I'll test this out. There may be a batter-saving tweak involved, too, but thus far, the Moto X is giving me some bogus stats on my runs because of these differences.
Bottom-Line? All in all, I was happy with the iPhone 5 and I am happy with the Moto X! It was a roughly comparable and lateral switch. I'd recommend either phone enthusiastically. Hopefully, some of these notes and comparisons will be useful in some way. Why did I switch, then?  Great question! That was prompted by the costs of service with Verizon. What led me to Republic Wireless was the significant reduction in cost and a solution to the lack of cell signal in my house (0 bars; 1 on a good day next to a window or on the front porch). So far, 8 weeks in with myself and one teenager having made the switch to Republic and the Moto X, we are thrilled with the overall change. As soon as our other contracts run out at Verizon, we'll move the whole family over.  I'll write some more soon about why Republic Wireless is a unique and good option in another post. I'd be interested in any specific iPhone/ios7 or Moto X/Android experiences in the comments!

iPad apps

I made the move from a laptop to an iPad about two years ago. While there are some advantages to a laptop, I have found the portability and flexibility of the iPad to be well worth the change. Recently I responded to a question about "what apps do you use on the iPad in ministry?" I thought I would share my initial response (which isn't exactly short) here and then perhaps elaborate on specific apps if there is interest. Tune in for that or shoot me an e-mail about a specific app if you just can't wait! Here's the question and my initial run-down: "Church-working types: what are your favorite bible/church apps for the iPad?"
  • Music: itunes, IHeartRadio, Pandora
  • Photo and photo editing apps (I have several); iLoader for FB helpful
  • Presentation (Slideshark*, Prezi, Keynote) - slideshark very flexible and plays PP
  • QuickOffice (edits MSoffice docs, but seems to be changing to Google docs)
  • Feedly: replace Google Reader for me; read my blogs, news, etc... here
  • Flipboard: very nice reader for social media and other feeds
  • GoTasks: an app that syncs with Google Tasks
  • Calendars: an app that syncs with Google calendars (I use many)
  • Logos Bible: if you have Logos, the app is nice; otherwise one rec. above
  • TWC: the weather channel
  • Kindle: I watch the Kindle store for freebies
  • MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness: my two main health apps; mainly on iPhone, but also have MyFitnessPal on the iPad
  • WordsHD: always up for Words with Friends!!
  • Mailbox: favorite e-mail reader that helps keep the inbox clear
  • Dropbox: I couldn't live without it; MANY uses deserving a separate response, but basically syncs all the files on the three computers + iPad I use regularly (and certain folders with key staff at church); I also use Google Drive and Box cloud storage and both have Apps; all these are for accessing church and home files from anywhere
  • HootSuite: twitter client; it's just ok, but my favorite of the options; really preferred Tweetdeck on my desktop (but better than the Twitter app)
  • Facebook and Facebook messenger
  • Notability: YES to using this at presbytery meetings; imports PDFs (like the downloadable packet) and then lets you write, highlight and otherwise take notes. I've started scanning everything paper to PDF and using here.
  • iBooks: for preaching I like creating a large font PDF and viewing from iBooks because it doesn't scroll. One tap or slide to move forward or back.
  • Evernote: some people really swear by it; I've not found a use for it
  • Movies: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video (now streamable to Apple TV), and Crackle
  • ContactSync: syncs your iPad contacts with Gmail contact list (if you have Gmail)
  • BankofAmerica: take pics of checks for deposit and any other online stuff you need
I have other apps, but those are all the ones I use with some frequency. If there are particular apps you'd like me to elaborate on (or if there are others you'd recommend), say so in the comments. Coming soon: ios7 vs Android - a friendly comparison (I recently switched)

guitar thing 1

This was more an exercise to experiment with recording... more mistakes in playing than I would like, but I was trying to see how I could overlay tracks and get it on video (kind of worked in #2) and if I could go back and replace the live audio with audio recorded and mixed (did not work). There's probably an app for that, but I couldn't find one with good reviews. This was all on my Android phone... I may go back to iPad for recording video and see if it offers more options. The first video is the first pass with the high guitar part (which I've played before). In the second video I played the audio of that which I recorded onto my computer back and made up a lower part as the video rolled (thus not as tight as it could have been).

friend of sinners

We sang this in worship today. It is an old Augustus Toplady text, set to new music by the folks at Red Mountain Music. My daughter was interested in getting in on it, and "Sunday is for songs" is partly about me dusting off my writing and recording chops, so we recorded this after dinner and I got to use some of my PA and the old guitar 'POD' (the red kidney bean shaped thing on the table). I missed a few chords (only really noticeable one time), but I realized that teenagers don't really have the patience for multiple takes.  :)   Very fun to do with her; I think this is our first time recording us playing together other than the recordings of worship services at church.
Redeemer, whither should I flee, or how escape the wrath to come? 
The weary sinner flies to thee for shelter from impending doom; 
Smile on me, gracious Lord, and show thyself the Friend of sinners now 
Smile on me, gracious Lord, And show thyself the Friend sinners now. 
Beneath the shadow of thy cross the heavy laden soul finds rest; 
I would esteem the world but dross, so I might be of Christ possessed. 
I'd seek my every joy in thee, be thou both life and light to me. 
I'd seek my every joy in thee, be thou both life and light to me.
Close to the highly shameful tree, Jesus, my humbled soul would cleave; 
Despised and crucified with thee, with thee resolved to die and live; 
This prayer and this ambition mine, living and dying to be thine. 
This prayer and this ambition mine, living and dying to be thine.
There fastened to the rugged wood by holy love's resistless chain, 
And life deriving from thy blood, never to wander wide again, 
There may I bow my suppliant knee, and own no other Lord but thee.
There may I bow my suppliant knee, and own no other Lord but thee.
"Friend of Sinners" - Red Mountain Church Words: Augustus Toplady, 1740-1778 Music - Jeff Koonce and Brian T. Murphy, 2004 Redeemer!  

before the throne/have mercy (kyrie)

I'm hoping to blog more in 2014 and one part of that is to try to post a recording of some music every Sunday (whether songwriting or covers or just an interesting 'lick'). This is from today's worship service: Before the Throne (Bancroft-1863/Cook-1997)/Have Mercy (Shane Barnard). The guitar arrangement is mine (and sadly missing my daughter's excellent drum beat).