Apps on my smartphones

There are apps that I always install on my Droids. Always. And all of them are free! Swiftkey. I actually served as a beta tester of this keyboard. Bibles from Olive Tree and Laridian. I’ve used these Bible apps for almost 20 years! WPS and Microsoft Office apps (One Drive, Skype, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). Merriam Webster Dictionary.

Google apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Hangouts, YouTube, Google Drive, and Gmail). Facebook, FB Messenger, WordPress, Opera Mini, and 7-Minute Workout.

Games? On our next post.


I’m back!

It’s been a while. Five years to be exact! I’ve been really, really busy. I’m still teaching and download

I do continue using technology in my teaching. Smartphones remain my primary tech tools for teaching. These days I rely on a pair of Samsung Galaxy devices: the J7 2016 and the J7 Prime.

Why a pair? I’m a firm believer in redundancy and Murphy’s Law. One carries a Globe SIM while the other, a Smart SIM.  Both can last 1.5 to 2 days on a single charge. Next time I will share how I use these for different learning scenarios.

*image: screen capture from youtube.com


Make mine the Galaxy Beam

galaxy-beamIt’s a niche device. It will not sell like the S3 or the Note 2 or even the Galaxy Pocket. But for my needs, and if your needs reflect mine, the Galaxy Beam will suffice.

First. I’m a teacher and I get to go lecture in places where laptops and projectors and, sometimes, electricity are not available. In these situations, the ever reliable chalkboards, Manila paper, chalk, and markers come to the rescue.

With the Galaxy Beam I can leave my laptop at home. I don’t need to request my hosts for an lcd projector or even the old reliables since the Beam works whether or not electric power is available. There’s even an extra battery in the box just in case the three-hour projection time on a full charge is not enough. The phone’s overhead projector function helps a lot as well, especially when pointing out key features from an original document or drawing diagrams. The Beam is quite useful when using flash cards in class.

Second. The Beam’s torch is excellent. Where I live it is very dark at night and the torch practically lights up my path like car headlights. The torch can also light up a room during brownouts. I have no doubt the torch will do great as an emergency beacon.

Third. Reunions are where Beams come in very useful. In the two family reunions I attended this past Christmas season I used the Beam to project a thanksgiving liturgy, to show family photos and videos, and play videoke. On two occasions I used the Beam to play with my brother’s grandson.

For relaxation, projecting movies on the ceiling with the beam is quite nice. Especially animated movies. I’m a Batman fan and watching DC Animated Movies like Year One and The Dark Knight Returns was a blast!

(pic from images.google.com)

teaching and technology

Read your Bible everyday, Take Two

Reports say that over 60% of smartphones being used today use the Android operating system. And most of these are Samsung-branded devices. I’ve been often asked my recommendations regarding Bibles for these devices and, to my surprise, the top two applications I volunteer have been my favorites for over ten years.

Olivetree.com’s BibleReader and Laridian.com’s PocketBible are the best in my experience and their apps are available for multiple platforms. I’ve used their Bibles since my Palm Pilot days.

Olivetree’s Android version is more mature than Laridian’s. If you like options, get BibleReader. You can even get the free SBL Greek New Testament. If you like clean and simple, then it’s PocketBible for you. Much better is to have both apps.

Now, if you like reading your Bible while listening to a dramatic audio presentation of what you’re reading, then go to http://www.bible.is.


“Find what you love”

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.


Read your Bible everyday

It’s very hard to read your Bible everyday when you don’t have a Bible with you. Since many of us have phones and many of us, even if we deny it, have our phones with us practically 24/7, then we should have our Bible on our phones.

Librivox.org is the best place to get the Bible in mp3 format. If you don’t want to read your Bibles everyday, you can listen to it. I’ve written about the excellent Bible offerings from olivetree.com and laridian.com. They even include commentaries, Study Bibles, and several translations. I especially like the Tagalog translation from 1905 offered free by olivetree. Recently, Allaboutsymbian.com did a feature on Bibles for Symbian^3 devices. Go check it out.

Yesterday, i discovered Claretian’s eGospel while browsing Nokia’s Ovi Store on my E6. It’s a daily gospel guide for 2011 and it’s based on Claretian’s Bible Diary, Daily Gospel, and Pandesal for 2011. I highly recommend it.

Now, go read your Bible =)


teaching and technology

Leave your laptop or netbook home

The Psion handhelds (the 5mx and the Revo) gave me the inspiration to leave my laptop at home. These were stand-alone devices and I did most of my papers in graduate school on these much-missed foreparents of today’s Symbian smartphones. Then I tried the Palm devices and the excellent folding keyboard from ThinkOutside. After that period, I had a pair of Jornadas: one had a bolt-in device that allowed me to go online; while the other had a bolt-on thumb keyboard.

But the Palm and Windows CE devices were not stand-alone units. I missed my Psions terribly until I was introduced to the Nokia 6600. Yes, it was wide, it was thick, it looked like a hand grenade but it was a pocket rocket. The 6600, although it lacked a qwerty keyboard, offered me the “pocket office” which the Psions did. It was, of course, more than a pocket office. It was my first connected pocket office.

These past few years, as those who read this blog know already, I have been well served by Nokia’s E-series monoblock qwerty phones. Today, I pack an E6.

What do these connected pocket office devices need in order for me to leave my laptop or netbook at home? First, they should allow me to work (read, write, edit, check grades, do email anywhere, take pictures and videos, record meetings and conferences). Physical keyboards are a must for me. Second, they should allow me to go online (for research, for podcasts, for news, for RSS feeds, for updating my blogs, for social networking, for entertainment). Third, they should keep me connected (via calling, SMS, skype, chat).

You can do all these and more on your laptop or netbook. But I chose to do these and more on my Nokia E6.