“Locking” My Phone’s Home Screen Icon Layout

One of the frustrating behaviors of my smartphone (currently a Moto G5 Plus) is that icons on the home screen periodically move around — switch places, conjugate with other icons and form a group, even simply disappear.

I don’t know how much of this is completely spontaneous, versus responding to contact while in a pocket, glitches in the screen’s touch layer, or space aliens playing icon hockey.

It’s similarly annoying on my desktop Windows computer, but at least I can “lock” the Taskbar to minimize unrequested changes. (Sadly, I have yet to find a setting to also keep the desktop icons where I put them.)

I’d like to find a “freeze icon layout” setting.

Alas, based on a brief web search or three, it looks like the features I want are not available in my phone’s version of Android. (I’m also not seeing it in the various Moto apps in the Google Play app store.) Feh.

Further searches suggest that I might get this feature by changing to a different “Launcher” app… but I’m concernedly cautious about what the downsides might be, such as disabling Moto “gestures” I rely on.

So for now, I guess, I’ll leave it be. I s’pose I should screenshot my home screen for reference.

And when I’m ready to get another/new smartphone, I’ll keep this in mind in my “feature druthers” list.

P.S. I’d also like to know why settings on my phone auto-toggle. Notably LOCATION turning on, speeding battery drain, but also AIRPLANE MODE and others.

Why I’ll Never Buy a Car That Runs Windows, or, Hey Microsoft Are You New At This Business Of End-User Software? :-(

So it’s 3PM Wednesday afternoon, I’m working away on my Windows desktop computer, with the usual dozen-ish windows including a FireFox private-browsing session (which doesn’t save open tabs when closed or crashed), and writing/editing across several files in my text editor (TextPad, FYI)… when ka-plunk, all the windows and background dim or something (things happened too fast for me to remember exactly) and center-screen up comes “Shutting down for system update” (or something like that).

Abruptly. Irrevocably. Not, like my Android phone or my iPad, “System (or OS) update available now, would you like to install it: YES/LATER.” Not, like a shell window to my ISP account which is running some *NIX, “System going down in 5 minutes…” Just, “[MANY EXPLETIVES FOLLOWED BY EXCLAMATION POINTS DELETED] you, Jack, I’m rebooting nyah-nyah-nyah.”

OK, it didn’t say that. But that’s sure what it felt like.

So tell me, Microsoft, how long have you been in the business of writing and selling operating operating systems — less than three months? Or did your entire Windows tech team turn over during the summer, and you replaced them with people who had never coded for users?

Or do you just not care?

Granted, this was probably the update I’d told Update Scheduler to postpone for a month, back in October, when I read about the, ahem, itsy-bitsy-glitch that was deleting everything in the DOCUMENTS directory (not that I let anything go there, as a rule).

I mean, do you show up unannounced at friends ten minutes before the end of a new GAME OF THRONES episode? Turn off the water while people are showering and doing laundry?

If only Windows included some what t6 keep track of the date and time. And had some built-in way to pop up a message to the user. If only.

Realistically, I’m too used to working in Windows and with third-party tools that run in Windows to casually shift OS gears.

But it certainly diminishes my already-ambivalent feelings for your company and products. And makes me even more concerned that if after thirty-plus years, you can still make (what I consider) is a bone-headed, lame, inexcusable, annoying, aggravating, and potentially business-damaging mistake like this, who knows what else you’re doing wrong?

Lucky for me, I only lost a minute or two’s worth of writing. Plus the time to chill out… it was time to take my dog out for a walk out anyway. But I could have been doing something important — and harder to recover from — and expensive or even dangerous to abruptly interrupt.

Like I said at the top, I don’t think I’d want to risk buying any vehicles that run on Windows.

Mmmm, maybe I do want to go take a Linux distro out for a spin… while I’m not in a hurry.

Using my smartphone like an FM transistor radio: Success! And some advice/tips.

Unlike my prior smartphones (an iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S5 and S7), my newish Lenovo Moto G5 Plus smartphone includes an unlocked FM radio chip — meaning I can use the phone as an FM radio, tuning into and listening live to local broadcast stations for free, data-plan-wise.

(And daily listening via wireless data can add up — the NPR app used nearly half a gig during one recent billing period, and as I write this, nearly 300MB so far.)

So over the past month or two, I’ve gotten the hang of using my Moto G5+ as an FM “transistor radio.”

Moto FM Radio app "favorites"

Moto FM Radio app “favorites”

Moto FM Radio app tuned to a "favorite"

Moto FM Radio app tuned to a “favorite”

Short answer: it works, but so far, I’m still more likely to burn data plan bits (i.e., listen via streaming or download), or keep using one of my old but still working perfectly SanDisk MP3/FM players.

If you want to try using your smartphone as an FM radio, here’s what you need to know, and some other tips. Continue reading

Trying To Find Technology In Order To Try Before Buying: The Case of the Unprintable Printer, And Other Stuff

One of the presumed/potential benefits of buying tech at brick’n’mortar locations rather than via online is the opportunity to see, touch, and try before buying (or deciding to not buy). (Other p/b b’s include helpful sales people — particularly at Micro Center, and getting the product then and there.)

Sometimes this works out — leading to my buying, or confirming that it’s not what I want.

But other times, not so much. Continue reading

CES 2016: Tuesday, January 5, Some Nifty Stuff Already Seen

The show floor doesn’t open until Wednesday morning, but thanks to the Pepcom’s Tuesday evening press/media-only event, and also to Discover Blue, the Bluetooth press/media event, ShowStoppers’ LaunchIT, and the general miasma of Press Day (press conferences the day before the floor opens), I’ve already seen a bunch of interesting stuff. Here’s a highlight handful. Prices and other info subject to my having taken notes badly, I’ll recheck when I can… Continue reading

It’s January 2016 — Time To Consume Electronics In Vegas Again!

With New Year’s Day now a few days old, it’s time once again for me (and thousands of my press/media colleagues) to head to Las Vegas for the annual CES (which used to stand for, and continues to be referred to as the Consumer Electronics Show), where thousands of vendors and resellers will hawk new and recent stuff to potential buyers and resellers, and to us press/media types. Continue reading

Trying (Tech) Stuff Ahead Of Time, Always A Good Idea

In part as as part of getting ready to go to CES 2015, and also because having, or being able to do, these things should be part of my “mobile toolkit,” I’ve been trying a bunch of things, and, true to the name of this blog, they’ve been trying, in particular:

1) Tweeting from my phone.
2) Posting to my WordPress blog(s) from my phone.
3) Having a mobile device good for writing in trade show/travel circumstances.

Continue reading

Wrangling Photos: A Picture Gallery from Readercon 25

Digital cameras make it easy to take not just dozens, but hundreds of photos at an event like a graduation, wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, reunion, or convention, at, unlike “analog” photography, no “cost per click” for film or developing. Wrangling these batches of photos — culling duds, naming the keepers and batch-naming a collection, turning into a postable set — takes time. I’ve been exploring and experimenting with some of the free/cheap tools.

Continue reading

Off to Consume Electronics! (at 2014 International CES in Vegas)

And so off to this year’s (2014!) International CES, the show formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, or, as I refer to it, “Consume Electronics!” I’m packing a camera, my iPad and Asus Nexus 7 tablets — plus, for most of my note-taking, if the AC charger still works, my trusty old NEC MobilePro, which flips open ready for being typed into faster than anything else I’ve got. Continue reading