My Favorites for 2013

imgresBelow is a list of my favorite things. You’ll see that it’s an assortment of devices, places, apps, etc. that I really like and depend on for my everyday life. Of course, things can change but here’s what I like for 2013:

Hardware:

Android OS – Over the years I’ve used different devices and OSes and I just love the Android OS. It’s matured into a very usable and stable ecosystem, where I can share data between the cloud, my smartphone, and various tablets that I own. The OS runs great, and Google provides constant updates and improvements. In my opinion, the Android OS is the best (even when compared to the Apple iOS).

HTC One Smartphone – I usually upgrade my smartphone every 12-18 months but this time I think I’ll be keeping my HTC One for longer than that. It’s just a great phone, running the Android “Jelly Bean” OS (soon to be upgraded to the latest “Kitkat” version). The HTC One is one finely crafted phone, with a big screen yet still totable in my front pants pocket. The device is speedy, and I almost always can get an LTE connection in the Seattle area. Battery life is amazing, as I usually have a 80% charge remaining even after 8 hours of normal use. I certainly have no plans of switching phones now or in the immediate future.

Nexus 7 Tablet – I bought this Google Tablet last year (2012) and it’s been running great for me as a totable device. If I’m away from home and I need something to keep me busy or want to use a browser larger than my smartphone, I’ll bring the Nexus 7 along. I usually use my Nexus 7 tablet at home at night to watch streamed TV shows and Movies (via Netflix or Hulu Plus), so it does get daily usage. Another device I couldn’t live without!

Acer A500 Iconia Tablet – This was the first Android Tablet that I purchased, and I still use it like crazy. I’ve rooted it and installed the the “Ice Cream Sandwich” version of the Android OS, and it runs great. Although I have the newer Nexus 7 Tablet, I still like to use this Acer tablet because the screen size is double that of the 7″ Nexus 7. Because of the size, I rarely take it with me outside of home, and I mainly use it as a replacement for a laptop for easy web browsing.

Roku 3 – This is a recent addition to my assortment of high-tech devices, and I just love it. It’s the perfect device for replacing my old Cable TV service, as it allows me to watch lots of video media for a much lower price than what I was paying for Cable TV channels. Couple the Roku media streamer with Netflix and Hulu Plus and you have a winner. My favorite feature for Roku 3, is the headphone jack in the side of the wireless remote control. I can watch and listen to my shows in private while my son can sit nearby and play or watch Youtube videos on his iPad.

iMac Desktop Computer – I switch from a Windows 7 PC over to an Apple iMac (27″ display) about three years ago, and I just love it. No more messing with constant Windows updates or having to reboot my computer to clear memory or glitches. My iMac runs all day long and I very rarely have to reboot it (maybe a total of 5 times a year). I’ve got all the software I need on my iMac, and I don’t miss anything from Windows 7. Being an old UNIX hack, my favorite thing to do is open up a Terminal Shell window and run some Python or cshell scripts to do some automated processing of files. Sweet!

Vehicles:

2013 Ford Explorer – Last year I bought a new 2013 Ford Explorer SUV and I love it. Ford now builds the Explorer on a car frame instead of a truck frame, so the ride is much smoother. The car is very well styled, and I just love the interior layout. What I really like, is the Ford Sync System (by Microsoft) that very easily and automatically connect my HTC One smartphone to my car’s system for phone calls and streaming music and podcasts. It connects automatically when I startup my car, and will even pick up playing whatever podcast or music I was listening to previously.

Apps:

Pocket Casts – This is my favorite podcast app for my HTC One Smartphone which I use twice a day when driving to and from work. The interface is slick, and I’ve got it setup to download all my daily podcasts every morning. I get to listen to 90 Seconds on the Verge and NBC Nightly News every morning on my drive to work.

Yahoo Weather – I run this app every morning after I wake up to check the local weather to decide how to dress for the day. It has a beautiful interface and has all the weather I need on one screen. And best of all, it’s free!

Tasker – This is a wonderful Android app that allows me to automate my different tasks for my HTC One smartphone. For example, I have it setup to turn on and off my smarphone’s WiFi when I get close to or leave my home area. It also downloads all my podcasts each morning for the Pocket Casts app, adjusts the volumes, etc. This great app makes my HTC One smartphone even more useful!

USA Today – I love using this app for reading the current news on my smartphone over my lunch break. Just the right amount of content to keep me distracted while eating my lunch.

Google Keep – This is a great note taking app for quick short memos and checklists. I love the fact that any updates and changes will automatically be sycned to the cloud and all my other Android devices.

Handbrake – My favorite desktop app for ripping video from DVDs or converting videos from one format to another. Every easy to use, and available on Macs and Windows PCs.

Web Sites:

Trip Advisor – I use this site all the time to read customer reviews of hotels, places, attractions, etc. It’s a great way to get good feedback before making travel plans. The forums are also especially useful for posting or reading questions from other users.

Yahoo Home Page – I was using iGoogle.com as my web browser home page for news, but since Google discontinued iGoogle I switched to Yahoo. The Yahoo site is clean and fresh, with all the news content that I need.

Engadget – One of my favorite tech web sites which is updated frequently with the latest tech news. I hit this site several times a day.

TV Shows:

The Americans – A new series from FOX that follows two Russian KGB agents in the US posing as a married couple with children. Great stories with great acting.

The Walking Dead & Hells on Wheels – Two great shows from AMC. Both in hiatus now, and will start up again in early 2014.

Almost Human – A new FOX show that is also in short hiatus due to start up again in Jan 2014.

Grey’s Anatomy – I just started to watch this series on Hulu Plus (starting with season 1) and I’m hooked. Very similar to ER (one of my all time favorites), but with a new fresh cast.

Places:

Disneyland – This is my all time favorite place in the world. I guess I’m a big kid, since I just love the Disney atmosphere. Although the rides are great, what I really love is the Disney magic that is at the park and in Downtown Disney. This is truly a wonderful place. My wife is tired of visiting Disneyland and wants to hold off going back again for a few years, but I could go there every year.

San Diego – I’ve been to San Diego, CA several times in the past, and I love the area. Mild and sunny weather, nice beaches, and relatively clean air (for Southern California!). I love the surf environment and beach shops. If I were to retire today, it would be in San Diego close to the water.

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