Samsung Note 4

I recently got the Note 4 to replace my possessed Galaxy S3. I loved my S3 from the beginning. But, yes, it was possessed. For one, it would not connect to the computer with the cable that came with it. Not on my computer. It would on my computer with Lorna’s cable, but not my cable. Then it would connect to Lorna’s computer with it’s cable but not Lorna’s cable. And yes, I knew which cable went to which. So finally we just switched cables and that was that. Then the headset port decided to not work. Most of the time it would, sometimes it wouldn’t. Totally random. It would be playing fine, plug in the headset or speaker, it would go to full volume for two seconds then nothing. The program would pause. Sometimes Google Voice Search would open. Sometimes not. Sometimes Dragon Voice Search would open, sometimes not.

See what I mean by possessed?

Meanwhile I had my tablet with the pen which I used more than I thought I would. I got the pen because I figured I would like to freehand notes and the like. Actually I fell in love with the handwriting-to-text software. I was thinking of getting the Note 3 but Lorna had a co-worker with one and she said it was just too big. Then my sis-in-law got one and I got to play with it. It’s big, yes, but not overly so. When I heard the Note 4 was due out, I decided that was what I wanted.

And I am glad I did.

And yes, it is big. But I wear men’s pants with real pockets so no problems with carrying it. Lorna is going through a phase of wearing women’s pants which has pretend pockets and she can’t even carry her S3 in her front pocket. If I were thinner, I’d get a holster for it and carry it that way, just to be cool. Right now I am carrying it naked. I’m not naked, the phone is.

Let’s start off with what I don’t like. Some of what I don’t like is the different version of the OS, KitKat 4.4.4. My S3 is running 4.4.2.
– I can no longer turn off/on the mobile data with just a tap of an icon in the “drawer”. I actually have no clue where to access it. I’ve not been in a situation yet where I have had to force it to do it so maybe they fixed that problem.
– If the screen is off and you have the phone locked with something other than a simple swipe, a missed call only shows up as a missed call. No other information (other than time) shows. They consider it a “privacy setting” and assume that if you don’t lock your phone, you don’t care who sees it but if you lock it, you do. There’s no way to change that. Really?
– Accessing widgets is a PITA. On my S3, they are with the Apps. On the Note 4, you have to long press an empty spot on the screen and access them via an icon that way. Why??
– The screen is slightly curved on the edges and Samsung neglected to let anyone know this ahead of time. All of the case and screen protector designers who had made things ahead of time were left scrambling to not only recall and offer refunds on things they had sold, but to now redesign their stuff.
– There are two mic holes and depending on who your carrier is depends on which mic hole you use. Verizon folks are SOL when it comes to cases right now. For some stupid dumbass reason, they use a totally different mic hole than everyone else so unless the case has an open bottom, yep, SOL. We have Sprint!

What I do like:
– Very, very sensitive screen. I am tempted to not put a screen protector on it because I love the crisp, clear screen (Zagg’s plastic tends to cloud up).
– What a beautiful screen! Wow! So clear! We went to BestBuy so I could see one and as soon as I turned it on, I knew that was what I would get.
– The pen? It is awesome. It is like a mouse, actually. I can draw, select, move, cut, paste, write, erase. I use the phone for quick notes for the manuscripts as well as just various “don’t for get to do this” kind of notes. And I write them by hand! Amazing! I don’t write much by hand anymore because I tend to grip a pen too hard. And it hurts anyway. But the stylus, I grip lightly and don’t press as hard.
– Probably more to do with the OS than the device itself but the widgets are grouped together. On the S3, if an app had 12 widgets, they were all listed, 6 to a page. But now they are grouped together into kinda like folders that are kinda open. This makes finding things MUCH easier.
– To move icons from one screen to another, you don’t have to hold and skim from page to page. You hold it and little images of the other screens appear below. You can then drag it to the image of the page you want to put it on, it pops up and you drop it there. Done. Great for when you are doing massive re-arranging!

There’s lots more of course. Some good, some bad. There’s some battery issues. This battery gets hot while I never noticed the S3 ever getting warm. But it has a “fast charge” where it goes from dead (1-2%) to 100% in 1hr 37mins (I timed it). It took forever to get it to die, though. A guy who does YouTube reviews and stuff was able to get the iPhone 6+ to bend which then cracked when he tried to straighten it out. The Note 3 did not bend at all, although there was a slight warping to it. The Note 4 bent some but he was able to straighten it out without it breaking. What else? The more I use it, the smaller it gets. Really, it’s not as big as it seems. I mean, yeah, it’s big but for my old eyes? It is just right.

A great resource for most things Android is Android Central. Their forums are quite active and huge. I have learned a lot from the forum for the Galaxy S3 and now the Note 4. Since the wifi only tablets are rather static (I have the Note 10.1), not much happens to them but I go to that forum sometimes just to see if any update is expected. It is still on 4.1.2 and I doubt it will ever get an update.

S3 (left) and Note 4 (right) – the app is Sol Calendar

Widget screen for the Note 4

Widget Screen for the S3 (yes, those are all for one app and yes, there’s more)

How to access the widgets for the Note 4. PITA, IMO.

Writing Apps

So what mobile apps do y’all use to do your writing? Even research? And by mobile I mean not laptop or netbook, but tablet or phone.

I use all Android on my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone (soon to be upgraded) and my Samsung Note 10.1 tablet. When I do write away from home and it is not on the laptop, it is on the tablet. With the Note’s pen, I can either do it by hand or use a keyboard (bluetooth or onscreen). I went with the Android because, as a writer, I wanted the ability to easily get to my files and keep backups on a card vs being forced to use a cable or cloud the iWhatever is limited to. My Note has a 32gb card that holds all my WiP files as well as my music, ebooks, and bunches of other stuff. My phone has a 64gb card because it has ALL of the music and a ton of other useless stuff. I keep the tablet more “professional” (less games, for one).

If I like a program, I don’t hesitate to buy the pro or premium version. And if it is free, I like it, but the ads are annoying or I don’t like the permissions, I won’t use it.

The two I use the absolute most are OfficeSuite Pro and AndFTP Pro.

OfficeSuite Pro – word processing. Tracks changes that actually transfers to the desktop. Reads the .odt format (open document, which is what OpenOffice uses) but cannot save in it. It can, however, edit that document then save in .doc which OpenOffice can then handle. Which is why I love OpenOffice.

LectureNotes – I heart this muchly. You can import an image or pdf file then take notes on it or beside it. It is mostly for college students to use this way. You can also create your own drawings, notes, or whatever. There is a fully functioning trial version (has some limits, of course).

Write: Tablet Journal – well organized note taking or journaling kind of app. I use this for world building and idea growing when away from home. I can export them in .txt format when I get home. Easier to manipulate the text than a simple note program yet not overly complicated. The notes can be organized into folders. There is also a version for phones.

WordWeb – I use this on my desktop, too. Dictionary and thesaurus program that can also tap into Wikipedia and Wiktionary. Freakin’ way cool program. On the desktop, I use this a lot.

Aldiko Premium – eBook reader. Reads epub, pdf, and acsm formats. I upload the books (including L’s Nook books) to my tablet via Calibre, a free ebook organization program. I just now found a Calibre Companion app which, somehow through wifi, works with your phone/tablet and Calibre on your desktop to keep your books organized. It won’t read them, but it can help you tag them, mark them as read, etc. I haven’t tried it yet but I will soon!

SimpleMind – a mind mapping / brain storming program. I have it on the desktop, too. I prefer Novamind, however, but that program doesn’t have an app just yet so when I need it while away from home, I can explore the thought process with SimpleMind then transfer it when I get home.

Rory’s Story Cubes – excellent and fun way to get a little spark back into your creativity! Hard to explain so you’ll have to check them out. They existed in “hard format” first and I think I would prefer them that way.

BeyondPod – I was into podcasts for a while but then if I missed a day or week, I got behind and then it is hard to catch up and and and…so I don’t anymore. But I still have the app for if I ever want to get into it again. This was THE best app I tried (and I tried a lot of ‘em) for finding the source, downloading, sorting, and then finding the download to listen to it.

And finally, AndFTP Pro and S3Anywhere Pro. AndFTP is an ftp app that lets me upload/download to/from my backup ftp site. I do regular backups and syncs (yes, I do both) from my desktop and when actively writing, I do daily syncs of the active project. That way, when away from home, I can access the most recent version from my tablet, even if I haven’t put it on there. S3Anywhere allows me to access the cloud service I use (I use DreamHost’s DreamObjects). I don’t often use it but in case something happens to the FTP version, I still have the cloud version. And ya never know! The two apps are made by the same company.

There’s a few more that I tap for reference but these are the faves. OfficeSuite and the ftp one are used the most. I’ve tried a LOT of different apps over the past, what, two years? I really liked Kingsoft, which became WPS Office but it couldn’t handle the odt format. Remembering to save in doc and to upload it was a pain in the arse. It had some other issues as well (clearing the “most recent” list had a tendency to delete the files themselves!) and I was pleased to find another app.

My First Reading!

Paula Offutt (me) and Robin Whitley (somebody else) will be doing a presentation, discussion, and reading at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC October 10th 6:30pm.

The fun part is my book is a science fiction (To Sleep) and Robin’s book is poetry (More Than Knowing) and we are going to connect the two together through the theme of Coming Out and LGBT History. How will we do that? The audience will guide our direction but the idea is how far
LGBT books have come, in particular the characters within them.

For those who cannot make it, an auditory recording will be made and will be available later as a podcast.

O.M.G. I’ve never done this before. What have I agreed to do? I know, I know, it’s for my own good. It sells books. It promotes the next one and the others I’ve written. It promotes LGBT books as a whole. I know. But…I’ve never done this before. What if I do something stupid? It wouldn’t be the first time.

Two At Once

I typically work on two, sometimes three, projects at once. This gives me a chance to walk away from a project and sink into another one for a while. Then when that one needs a break, I can go back to the first one. Yes, one of them usually suffers from it and that’s okay. One is always designated the “major” project and the other then “minor” one although twice now that designation has switched.

Sometimes my brain gets so excited about different ideas, that if I do not write them down, or at least get them started, I lose the momentum altogether. And that’s just sad for everyone. It may not go very far, that idea and the momentum, but it is there for me to pick up later.

Like right now, the two I am working on, one is Butch Girls 2 (I just cannot decide on a real title) has been written about half way in two different plot lines. I finally forced myself to pick one and I am writing it from the beginning to get another BG book out there for my screaming (and stalking) fans. Meanwhile, I dug through my massive archives (I am such a data hoarder) and have started to pump life into a massive manuscript I love but just can’t seem to let go of. I flip between the two projects–which are so very, very different–and soon one of them will win and I’ll feverishly get it finished. The BG book will be the winner because it has to be done first. It just has to be. Stalkers are demanding.

And, to prove to you I really am working, here’s a bit from BG2:

The next one rudely explained how she was looking for someone who had a “firmer grasp on the English language since they were in America, after all, and the short, simple reply clearly demonstrated” that Ellen was “most likely Phillipino or, on second thought, Puerto Rican”. Ellen stopped reading the very long diatribe at that point. She pulled back up the reply she had sent to her and read it aloud, in a Hispanic accent like her friend Toni.

“Nope, doesn’t sound like something she would say at all.”

The third was from the southern lady: “You bring the coffee, I’ll bring the brownies. The dating site has a built-in chat room we can use. How about Wednesday afternoon, 7pm Eastern? Whoever gets there first opens a private chat room with their username with only the other one able to join? I think that’s how it works.”

Ellen glanced at the corner of her monitor. “Dammit, it’s only Monday.” She sent off a quick reply, agreeing to Wednesday. She resisted the urge to complain that Wednesday seemed so far away. She then set several reminders for herself so she wouldn’t forget. “Am I that desperate?”

“I am that desperate.” Nikki set the alarm on her phone and put a big note on her fridge to match the one on her monitor. She and Spam, who was following her everywhere, returned to her office. She went to the dating site to test out how to open a chat room. It wasn’t as difficult as she thought. But staring at the blank chat window was depressing. Then text appeared.

“I see you got it to work.”


To Dream, Book Two of the Soliloquy, will not be released until October 2015. Yes, this is nearly a year after its original release date, but it is for a good reason.

Regal Crest and I want to put out the best book we can. And while To Dream is a damn good book as it is, there’s a few things in it that need some more rewriting and editing. No, I am not cat licking the novel and not letting go of it, honest. To Dream is like The Two Towers, an in-between book with lots of growth, lots of directions, but not much actually happening except growing tension. It sets up the next two books, mostly. And that is hard to do and make it worth the reader’s time. It is VERY character driven, one character with the others in very strong, supportive roles.

For me, it was a hard decision to make. But then we missed an important deadline (you would not believe the angst Real Life has thrown Heather and me!). The decision had to be made and we made it and it is done.

Fast Forward to Chapter Six!

Usually, the beginnings just explode out, all messy and nasty, like a can of Coke from my nephew. Then it settles down and I go with the rhythms of the characters and the story, sometimes the setting, too. That rhythm may usually will include some plot holes and some kicking and screaming but, gah, that screamin’ don’t usually happen so dang early!

Butch Girls 2 (aka BG2, aka Butch Girls and U-Hauls, aka Butch Girls: Intentional, aka What the Hell Am I Going to Call It?) is about Nikki Rogers and Ellen Hess. I actually started it before BGCFA but I didn’t like it and set it aside. Then I wrote BGCFA in NaNoWriMo ’04 and the rest is herstory. For one, I could never agree with myself on how the two of them were supposed to meet. And I guess I still can’t.

Option 1 was to have Ellen and her friend Samantha move down and be on Nikki’s mail route.
Option 2 was to have Nikki and Ellen meet online somehow.

I’ve written both ways several times and both has potential but I like Option 2 the best because it can be more, plot wise. Anyway, maybe because I went back and forth so many times, mostly on the dang beginning, that here I am doing it AGAIN, that my brain just says “WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME!?!?!?!”.

Anyway, I need to get to writing it and stop whining it. Right? Write? Wright?

Trying Out New Themes

So while I think about the beginning of this book I’m trying to write, I’m still working on my websites. I now have only two of them to keep track of. I dumped the contents of all the others, even got rid of the databases for them. I am such a digital hoarder. I admit that.

Anyway, the theme I have been using is one I kinda did myself based off one of the original ones from many years ago. I like my CSS stylesheet to be neat and tidy, not the mess they have it now. And it was working just fine, but more and more plugins were getting hard to get to work if I needed them to run on a page vs run in the background.

“They’re Just Words” (my official site) has had a “real” theme for a while now but it is all pages and very static. “Thought Patterns” however, has a lot going on. Or it once did. Anyway, I’ve looked at a bunch of themes, tried them out. I didn’t want one with flashing crap or rotating images or rolling news feeds. I wanted:

  • light colors
  • two columns
  • right sidebar
  • single image across entire top
  • OR right sidebar that goes all the way to the top
  • custom colors
  • custom anything else I could do

Oh what fun it has been finding any to fit all that. Then to trial them and see if I could figure them out. Some were so funkily CSS coded, I couldn’t find anything! One looked good but was very, very widget dependent. If it wasn’t a widget, I don’t think it could go into the sidebar. I tried putting a line of text inside some code to see where it would appear in the sidebar and it…well, it was a mess. Another was beautiful but you could only have 3 custom menus for the entire design. Just three??

But I think I like the one I am using now, called Catch Evolution. A little to bright white for me so I may gray it up a bit. And the upper right menu bar, the title of it is in black inside the brown and can’t be read. I need to dig through the CSS and find it.

Let me know what you think.

Oh, and the plugin found close to 1600 broken links. Not surprising for a blog that’s been around for almost 11 years. I got almost all of them on the main site and will slowly work through them on this one. So anything that is faded and has a line through it is a broken link.