Sometimes, in this space, I prognosticate, opine, and analyze things that have recently happened in the technology sector of our weird modern life. Those opinions are sometimes intriguing, and sometimes popular. Other times I actually try to provide help and suggest best practices and point to actual tools for fixing things up, and my editor, my friends, and everybody else seem much, much happier.
To close out 2012 on the first day of 2013, I present here, in helpful (read: holiday-lazy) list form, a subjective list of the most helpful and useful things I wrote at ITWorld in 2012.
I write about Android quite a bit, usually with an eye to explaining its peculiarities to newcomers, troubleshooters, and even those looking for a reason not to like it.
5 Things to do right away on your new Android device: Part 1 and Part 2 - It’s these little things that, over time, add up to a much nicer Android experience. Especially if you know your phone is secure and enjoying a good battery life.
Why you can totally tether your Verizon Android phone for free - Discovering that Big Red has a wide-open soft spot, one they created themselves? Just far too much fun.
Five Android apps that fix something about Android - Whenever Google has left something out or left a setting un-tweak-able, developers have often confidently stepped in.
Better Android keyboards get even betterer - As with other upgrade apps, no Android user is actually stuck with the keyboard their phone came with.
What is Google Now (exactly)? - It’s kind of a search tool, it’s something like Siri, and it’s also a personal notebook. Google Now is fascinating.
Make Gmail on Android even beter with these helper apps - If Gmail can’t be near-perfect on Android, then that needs addressing.
Chrome and Chromebooks
The big list of Chromebook work-arounds and caveats - An attempt to answer the most common questions about what Chromebooks and Chrome OS can and can’t do, for most people, with and without web-based work-arounds.
iPhone and iOS and other Apple things
5 quirks about Google’s Maps app for iPhone you might not have noticed - Did you know you can swipe left and right on the directions list to bring up alternate routes? Or that biking directions are not included?
Customize your iPhone’s vibrations styles for different notifications or contacts - If nothing else, you should know you can create a custom “Shave and a haircut, two bits” vibration pattern and assign it to your boss.
More on transferring contacts from your BlackBerry to your new smartphone - Following up on a feature based on a fairly popular Google question, and an increasingly common need .
Here’s how to grab a screenshot on nearly any smartphone - Now updated to included Windows Phone 8’s entry into the modern world.
Where can I sell my phone that isn’t ebay? - The answers are surprisingly non-scary!
Personal quests and obsessions
How to sync and edit plain text files anywhere, mobile or web - Because plain .txt has been here for a long time, and will be here when Microsoft, Apple, Google, and their kind are all gone.
You really truly don’t need to pay so much for text messages anymore - Unlimited text messaging plans are one of those $5-per-month “Oh well” costs that are easy to let go for a long time. But you might be able to save yourself a coffee or three every month.
Three ways to calmly step away from your smartphon - Day one with your first web-connected, multi-touch smartphone: “Oh, my goodness! It can tell me about everything!” Day five: “Please, somebody, stop this thing from telling me about everything.”
More reasons why Dropbox has won so many geeky hearts - In case you were wondering in how many ways, exactly, Dropbox is killing it.
The best phone so few know about - It’s an unlocked phone. That’s because the wireless business model in the U.S. makes them crazy expensive for something you can easily drop or drown.