Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 14: Hold that Pressing Thought

When you are ready to work with text, unless you overrode it somehow, the standard Android keyboard appears on screen, which looks like a miniature QWERTY keyboard.

If you look at the screen real closely, you will see above-right on each key another character. In a lot of cases, this gives you a quick way to get to some characters without having to press the Sym key. We’ll demonstrate using a Google home screen on the phone (screen shots magnified to show text).


We want to type a dash (-). You can get it by switching to the Sym keyboard, but notice that it is the alternate character for Z. How do we get to it? Press and hold, of course!


Now let go – see the result below:


You may also have noticed that when you pressed and held, other characters appeared in the little box along with the dash. To get to one of those, while holding, swipe over to the character you want, in this case, the z with the accent above


Now let go – here’s the result after I cleared out the dash.


This also works on tablets, although the other characters associated with a particular key will probably be different.


Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 13: Tapping In

Like most screen-based devices, Android phones go dark for a short interval. When you push a button on the side of the  phone, the last screen you were working on appears. Here is my home screen as an example:


From here, you usually swipe SW to NE in a right-slash pattern to make calls, get to your apps, etc.

However, note that two messages from apps appear at the top of the screen. You can go directly into the originating app to act on these messages – here’s where the tapping comes in!

First, tap on the message you want to act on. The bottom of the screen becomes hazy, as shown below:


For this example, I chose the message from the Weather Channel app.

Now swipe, SW to NE within the hazy area only – you are taken directly to the app to act on the message!


Hope you like this shortcut!


If One Child Can Be Saved…

The gruesome and senseless murder of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell in Blacksburg, VA

This may seem strange coming from me – this piece is about this recent murder apparently committed by two teenage Virginia Tech engineering students – our condolences go out to Nicole’s family, friends, etc. Aside from being a Virginia resident for nearly 30 years now, why does this particular killing hit home for me? Judy and I have no children. We were both pretty well-behaved during both our early and our late teens. Neither of us has ever been victims of violent crime, much less committed any.

I’ve taught several Personal Computer Skills classes for Henrico County Adult Education – this is why this case really matters to me. Security is one of the major topics covered in this course. One of the things I stress is that parents should treat their kid’s use of electronic devices as if the kid is using the phone, sending “snail mail”, etc. – if you wouldn’t want the kid to meet the other party in person, try your best to not let the kid communicate with them on anything electronic. I’m not blaming anyone here – kids can be very sneaky and crafty. It will come out in the trials how Nicole got acquainted with her killers, what the back-stories were, etc., but we already know social media was definitely involved.

13-year-olds often have strange crushes – it’s a normal part of growing up, and Nicole went through some horrendous medical conditions when she was little. People of all ages are using all manner of social media to communicate – it only took hours to figure out that Nicole and the scum that stabbed her to death were communicating that way. What really makes want to puke is the conduct of the killers. He was a star athlete in high school. VA Tech doesn’t exactly admit stupid people into their engineering program. Some screws are seriously loose here. He’s been charged with first-degree murder, she as an accessory before and after – this may be upgraded to capital murder for both if they planned Nicole’s killing to silence her. At least, they caught them- he may have been on his way to being the next Ted Bundy, and she Eileen Wournos.

Some things obviously fell through the cracks, and should come out in the trials and/or plea agreements (which will probably happen so that the killers avoid the death penalty). Did Nicole’s parents pay too little attention to her? Did the killers know each other prior to attending Tech? Was there a failure of the app companies in their security processes? Did Nicole’s school do too little when the friend supposedly warned them of the relationship with the killer? Did anybody, students, faculty, etc, at Tech notice any strange behavior in the killers?

I hope that aside from providing justice for Nicole’s family, that  we can enjoy social media and somehow use it as a tool to help people with mental-health issues. I’m on my soapbox now – our politicians have been way too silent – maybe because no gun was involved, or they are incapable of saying anything without being partisan. We need a permanent nonpartisan blue-ribbon commission of educators, clergy, mental health professionals, politicians, law enforcement members, business leaders, etc. to take a look at this issue. Va. state senator Creigh Deeds would be a great choice to head this commission, due to the personal tragedy involving his son, his legislative experience, and Virginia’s proximity to Washington.

This is going to be a tough one, folks. I hope some of the people running for President will take a serious look at mental health in the US, but don’t hold your breath…

Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 12: A Case of Battery

I’ve had my Android phone for about 15 months now. About two months ago, the battery began to have problems holding its charge.

That is when I remembered the terms of my plans that I got at Best Buy via Verizon Wireless & Geek Squad (which is part of Best Buy). I went with two-year contracts for both the Verizon cell service and the Best Buy insurance. The latter included one free battery replacement for the life of the plan.

Of course, like most insurance, I anticipated never using it. However, when the battery started going bad, I remembered that I had bought the Galaxy S4, which was an older model and may have been sitting in its box for a while, so I may have had an old battery to begin with.

Best Buy had a hard time finding my contract, but when they did, they agreed to send me the new battery. Due to Holiday shipping traffic, I finally got the battery. Now all I had to do was swap out the old battery. Easier said than done!

I had bought an Otter case for the phone, and it protected it – too well. After watching a couple of YouTube videos, I was able to extract the phone from its case – I’d forgotten how thin the phone was. After watching another YouTube video, I managed to pop the back off the phone, put in the new battery, put the phone back together, put the phone back into the Otter case, and charged up the phone.

All is working OK now!


Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 11: Instagram, and Bad Security Assumptions

Insta-what? In Chapter 9, I began to mention Instagram, which is not someone’s idea of a quickie breakfast food. It is a photo-handling app, which gives you a lot of photo editing and sharing options – too many to list here, but have fun exploring. The service was recently bought by Facebook.

Why the funny name? Instagraph may have made more sense, but that name was apparently taken. Anyway, per the developers, the name Instagram comes from “instant camera” and “telegram”.

After you’ve done your profile setup and added some followers & followees, when you first click on the app, the Home Screen looks something like this:

Instagram Home Screen

The controls at screen bottom are as follows:

  • House – Home Screen
  • Magnifying Glass – Search
  • Circle in Square – Access the camera
  • Heart – Activity
  • Person – All about you

Clicking on the Person brings up your personal stuff (see the screen shot below), including all the pictures that you’ve posted, and your profile information. To add or change your profile picture, you tap the profile picture itself (or a placeholder if you don’t have one yet) for a menu of photo options. Otherwise, you click the Edit Your Profile button, or the three vertical dots at upper-right for more options.


Now for the bad security assumption. Just because Company A owns Company B does NOT imply that the security on apps owned by Company A automatically transfer to apps owned by Company B. In particular, your Facebook security does not transfer over to Instagram! Like most of you, I have Friends security on Facebook, so I assumed I had Followers security on Instagram. Wrong – the “assume” = “ass” of “u” and “me” rule applies here. Found that out when someone I know who was not following me saw a picture that was intended for followers only.

To change this, you must make your Instagram account Private to limit to followers and people you approve. You do this by clicking on the three vertical dots to bring up the Options screen, then swiping the Private Account button to the right – here’s the Before and After:


Hope you enjoy Instagram, and again, please note the security differences between Instagram and Facebook.

My Other Blog – Interested in eLearning?

One of my more enjoyable work experiences has been courseware development. For those of you who may be new to this subject, courseware is educational software such as online training materials. The process of learning online is generally referred to as eLearning. Courseware development (CwDev) is the design, writing, testing, and implementation of materials that facilitate eLearning.

Seven years ago, I began writing the Courseware Development Blog (using Blogger, the other popular blogging platform) to express my thoughts regarding eLearning in general, and courseware develpoment specifically. I’ve had some good expreiences writing that blog, but when I got more involved in the stand-up teaching and in-person tutoring aspects of training (and when I started pcLearning4U), I let the CwDev blog lapse.

This has now changed. First came my revived interest in writing, as I have mentioned here before by involvement in groups such as Promocave. Then, recently, I saw that a free site, and a free training course, were being offered for Moodle users (Moodle is a free open-source eLearning development platform). I created my Moodle site, and will be taking the Moodle class (online, of course!) starting in less than two weeks.

Therefore, since I am very happy how the Android Adventures series has worked out on this blog, I’ve decided to do the same thing regarding my Moodle Adventures on the CwDev blog. I just published Chapter 1 over there, and I hope you continue to enjoy my posts on both of these blogs!

Ted and Judy’s Android Adventures: Chapter 10: Done with High School – Off to Collage!

If you use the Internet a lot, you’ve probably seen a lot of pictures that include other pictures – these are collages. Yup, there’s an app for that – in fact, there are several apps – after testing out a few, I chose Photo Grid (as usual, unless I specify otherwise in these posts, I am featuring free apps, so I put up with the ads). Note that this creates square pictures (see the previous Blog entry, Chapter 9, for why this is advantageous):

The initial Photo Grid screen looks like this:

Photo Grid Initial Screen

I chose the Grid option because I will be creating a collage with more than one picture. The picture selection screen appears – I chose four pictures (only three show on this screen shot, but you can scroll the list and the fourth selection is hidden):


I then clicked Next, which created the initial collage, which showed all four pictures in a 2×2 square array. I clicked Layout to choose a layout – they give you about twenty of them – I chose a slanted box layout. By selecting each picture within the collage, I moved and zoomed-in/out the individual pictures, and got the following:


I clicked Background to choose a background color or design – I chose grass-green. I chose Border to choose a scalloped border. Finally, I clicked Save to create the final collage for posting to social media:


Now, you can get straight A’s in collage!