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I’m an Android guy, and I like customizing my phone. The stock launcher doesn’t give me enough options, so I have been using Nova Launcher. And that’s since at least 2013, and across multiple phones.

Until now.

TeslaCoil software, the manufacturer, just sold out to an analytics company. There are a lot of words in press releases about independence and not siphoning data. I also know that Branch bought them for a reason, so I assume that the data will be flowing to the analytics company, and will be sold to the highesr bidder, somewhere down the road. Unhappy about that.

So I dropped Nova Launcher and picked up Hyperion. Different product, of course, but the end result is very similar. One minor tweak is absent, and I can live without that. My data will presumably be safer going forward.

I don’t blame TeslaCoil for selling out. Doesn’t mean I have to keep on using them – that’s the price of freedom.

And then I bought the Plus version of Hyperion using Google money, which I got from answering Google Rewards surveys. So I sold information to Google to protect information from going to Branch.

There are three or four big consolidators of data. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, maybe Facebook. Lots of others (Oracle bought Cerner!), but those are the biggies. They are all sucking data from you daily. I chose to align with Google as my primary. Still use Microsoft (though not Windows 11) and Amazon (Prime has many benefits, which encourage more purchases and data gathering). I stay away from Facebook.

I also use AdGuard and multiple ad-blockers. I may be selling my information, but I’m selling it dearly.

I started a project in June to re-digitize all my CDs. Finished all the CDs I could locate, turning them into FLAC files. I know I’m missing some, and I didn’t do my vinyl (the project could grow infinitely).

I used the excellent dBpoweramp and the accompanying PerfectTUNES to get the audio off and locate cover art. Again, still more work to do. I’m aiming for useful, not perfection.

Then Google Music shut down, so I downloaded everything I had sent to the cloud, which filled in some gaps and added some Amazon samplers as MP3s. Google downloads don’t know about folders, and every download has the group and album built into the song title. I could fix that, but the project could grow infinitely, as I may have mentioned before.

I spent some time cleaning up folder names and structures, and was finally ready to transfer it all to my phone (I really don’t like YouTube Music, Google’s replacement – it’s structured for them instead of for me, and rather forcefully. Gmail, Google Drive, and Keep are tools for me. YTMusic is all them.). And without a slot for an external memory card, it wouldn’t all fit on my phone.

I’d given myself a budget of 40G for music – seems right on a 128G phone. I had almost 180G of music. On my PC that’s fine – a 10T drive holds that without blinking. But for my phone I achieved 450% of my goal. If I was selling Girl Scout cookies that would be great. With a limited container, not so much.

With much hacking and chopping, making hard decisions, I got down to 50G and couldn’t see much more fat.

Today, Christmas of 2020, I have finally transferred all that music to my phone. No playlists yet, but I have the source material.

I verified the transfer with the always-helpful Beyond Compare. I’m playing the music through Musicolet, a local player. Yes, I paid for the upgrade to be able to cast to the TV (thank you, Google Opinion Rewards!).

Now I can carry around 2,444 songs – that’s 176 hours of music, so I can go a week without repeating – in my pocket.

Merry Christmas, Steve!

Google is shutting down Inbox in favor of Gmail.


There’s an old joke about the early days of aviation.  A pilot took his plane over to Africa and convinced a tribal chief to take a ride.  They saw the village, the lake, the paths through the jungle.  The pilot kept going on about how marvelous the airplane was.  He turned to the chief and said “This airplane – aren’t you amazed at it?”  The chief answered “Not really – isn’t this what it’s supposed to do?”.

And so we come to Lollipop, Android 5.1.

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Another sad story, another place where the editor had tons of knowledge and no common sense.

He/she was only off by 796 feet and 1.385952 inches.

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So all these great Android applications – or “apps”, as all the cool kids say – where do they come from?  Does Santa leave them on your smart phone?  Are there app fairies that will come and bless your Droid with nifty programs?

Umm, no.  But there are alternatives.

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Sorry, this isn’t about robots discussing Aristotle.  It’s about my approach to the Android smart phone I have.

It’s a definition of the way I see the phone, the way I choose software, the way I decide what apps to keep and which to pitch.

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Sometimes in life I wish for a button like the Staples “That was easy!”.  Everything would be so much – easier.

But no – I had to go spend money on something else.

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