Tech Answers

A Very Brief History of Android

A Very Brief History of Android

In preparation for my soon-to-be-released 2013 device guide, I thought it might be a good time to explain the different versions of Android, the mobile operating system that powers the majority of the devices that I will be writing about. I've written a lot about Android in the last two years, but I've almost always assumed a certain level of knowledge on the reader's part - knowledge that you may in fact lack.

The Only Web Software You Need

The Only Web Software You Need

When library customers ask me to show them how to use their laptops, I can't help but notice all the junk they've got that's slowing their computers way down. Some of this is manufacturer-loaded software, but the lion's share of it is from Web sites they've browsed to which inform them they need a particular program or plug-in to run correctly. This is something I addressed at length in my post on Avoiding Sneakware.

Even More Common Computer and Tech Myths

Even More Common Computer and Tech Myths

About a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote a blog post entitled "Common Computer Myths" that sought to debunk some of the misinformation I hear frequently regarding computers. Well, I'm always running into new techno-falsehoods, so for your consideration: "Even More Common Computer and Tech Myths" and their realities!

BARD Mobile Introduction

BARD Mobile logo

The NLS (National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped) is creating a series of instructional videos to introduce and discuss using the BARD mobile app. Check this blog post occasionally to see the latest additions. 

BARD Mobile

BARD mobile screenshot

The BARD Mobile app allows our Talking Book customers to access Braille and talking books directly from NLS (BARD). BARD offers a  collection of nearly 50,000 books, magazines, and musical scores, with new selections added daily.

BARD is up and running again despite the government shutdown. There has also been a mobile app set up for iPhones or iPads. You can obtain the free app from the Apple iTunes store.  

An Intro to "Geek Music:" Chiptune, Nerdcore, Filk, and Video Game Soundtracks

An Intro to "Geek Music": Chiptune, Nerdcore, Filk, and Video Game Soundtracks

It is such a fantastic time to be a geek. When you think about it, a not insignificant portion of our popular culture has come to embrace geekdom in many forms. And while some in my tribe decry this as the homogenization and dilution of what they snobbishly declare “true” geekdom, I, as a pudgy, pale, balding, aging, once bully-bait bull geek, am quite pleased with how things have turned out.

Personal Computer Buyers: Pass on Chromebooks

Personal Computer Buyers: Pass on Chromebooks

I read an article today stating that a new model of the sub-$300 notebook computers known as Chromebooks could be an “Apple-killer,” and that if they were stamped with Apple logo they would sell impressive numbers. That inspired an eye roll that nearly left me blind. Chromebooks are nice enough for limited purposes, and they get a lot of hype, but don’t let anyone sway you into thinking that these computers are a viable option for personal computing.

You Don't Need That: Breaking Annual Device Release Addiction

You Don't Need That: Breaking Annual Device Release Addiction

Technology: yawn. The last thing anyone expected a gadget addict such as myself to declare is that it’s time to stop. Yes, I know there’s something new and shiny on the market, and no one wants it more than I do—right here, right now.  Here’s why I’m going to do my very best to ignore that impulse after this year, and I believe you should, too.

The Best Games for both iOS and Android

The Best Cross-Platform Mobile Games

Last Update: December 7, 2013: Browse through games by genre—there is something for every gaming taste on this list. This newly-updated list also includes links to the Android versions through Amazon (as available) as well as Google Play so that Kindle Fire users can get their game on as well. Users of plain Android devices (i.e. not the Kindle Fire or Nook HD) should download the Amazon app store onto their devices and browse the offerings since Amazon frequently offers discounted prices on Android apps.  Tech Answers will be updating this list regularly, so check back often and happy gaming!

My Time with Android "Hacking"

My Time with Android "Hacking"

Tech Answers is back! Didja miss me? This time I've got something special for you. Now, I've sampled a veritable cavalcade of different smartphones over the years, from the Treo, to the Blackberry, to the iPhone, and, most lately, the Android. There I landed, and—for the foreseeable future—there I stay. The Treo is long dead (bye-bye!), Blackberry is a dead man walking (so sad), the iPhone's one-time supremacy in the smartphone market is faded (but not gone!), and Windows Phone? Please (no). Android is flourishing when other smartphone platforms are stagnating for one simple reason: it is free and open source. Developers and individuals can do whatever they please with it. You can go to the Android project's site and download the source code for the world's most powerful mobile OS right now for no charge. It is that openness and its benefits that I'm going to ramble about in this post.