A few weeks ago I tried Aviate and although I liked the concept, I decided it wasn’t for me. I wanted more control than it gave me over organizing my life into a group of contexts. And thanks to the experience of trying Aviate, I realized that I could do something similar using Tasker.Read More
A few weeks ago I tried Aviate and although I liked the concept, I decided it wasn’t for me. I wanted more control than it gave me over organizing my life into a group of contexts. And thanks to the experience of trying Aviate, I realized that I could do something similar using Tasker.
The basic idea was to create a different home screen in my launcher (I use Nova Launcher) for each context I wanted and then use Tasker’s “Go Home” action to automatically present the appropriate one when I unlocked my phone or tablet (#Gnex or #Nexus7).
Aviate uses time of day and location to trigger different contexts: Morning, Night, Home, Work, and Going Somewhere. But I don’t use either my phone or tablet in a way that meshes with that structure. And since the whole point of Aviate and context awareness is to get structure out of the way, it kind of defeats the purpose.
I started with my phone because I use it more contextually than I do the tablet, or so I thought. And keeping it simple I just tried implementing “Home” and “Not Home” which are really the only two contexts I use my phone in. You could use location to toggle between these, just like Aviate does. Or with Tasker you could also toggle them based on whether a certain wifi access point is in range. In my case, I already had an NFC tag by the kitchen door that I used with Tasker to toggle radios on and off when I come and go, so I just added this new context awareness to that mechanism. This approach has the added benefit of saving a little battery because it doesn’t rely on a location check, although you do have to keep your NFC radio on.
With the phone working so well, I started thinking about context on my tablet. “Home” and “Not Home” didn’t make sense there, but time of day did. Email and Evernote in the morning where daily status reports on my Roku channels are waiting for me, News in the afternoon, social in the evening. And I could control the exact times at which each context became active. That’s all pretty simple to make happen with Tasker and I can even set a different background image for each context.
Once I had that working, I started thinking about things that might be used to trigger a context other than time and location. This lead me to realize that I use my tablet a lot more contextually than I realized and the contextual awareness I’ve ended up building for the tablet is more complex than the phone’s.
Light level… If I take my tablet outside, it almost always means I’m going to read. So when a very bright environment is detected, show me a home screen with my reading apps and widgets.
Screen orientation. The only time i ever turn my tablet to landscape is when I’m going to watch video, so let’s detect that automatically and present a home screen with Netflix and Beyond Pod and my other video apps.
Other than NFC tags, I haven’t found an automatic way to detect different rooms within the house. In the living room, show me entertainment stuff; in the kitchen, show me recipes; in the bathroom, show me reading material; etc.
What other events/environments might be used to trigger a context?
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[G+] Aviating with Tasker
I’ve been playing with #Aviate the last several days and it’s not bad. I installed it on both my Galaxy Nexus and my Nexus 7 even though the FAQ is very clear that it is not optimized for tablets. I’ll do my best to limit my comments to the experience I’ve had on my phone.
I really like the idea of making our devices more contextual and Aviate in its current state is a good first swing at bringing that idea to an Android launcher. The problem is that not everyone breaks their lives into the same set of contexts. Aviate has environments for “Home”, “Work”, “Morning”, “Night”, and “Going Somewhere” and tries to switch between them automatically based on time of day and your location. For most people that may be fine, but it doesn’t jive too well with how I structure my life.
Aviate apparently uses location to decide whether you’re at home or at work. But I work from home, so I have to manually tell Aviate when I’m “at work”. “Morning” and “Night” are time based, but I haven’t found a way to change the times they (de)activate. For some people, “Morning” may be from 6 to 8 when they wake up until they leave for work. For me, “Morning” is from 8 to 9 when I wake up until I sit down at my desk. So I find myself doing a lot of manual switching between contexts, but the time based contexts are not always available. I can manually switch between the location based contexts (“Home”, “Work”, and “Going Somewhere”) at will, but “Morning” and “Night” are only available during their preset times.
Aviate has a minimal, flat look to it. I like that, but they removed so much clutter that it started to impact functionality. You can’t set wallpaper on your home screens. Instead, Aviate gives you a photo widget that you can use to display a picture on your home screen. The problem is that if you choose to set a photo, you can’t do anything else with that space. Nothing is allowed to appear above that photo.
Widgets also don’t make very good use of space in many cases. When you add a widget to your Aviate home screen, it uses the full width of your screen regardless of how wide the widget was designed to be. That can waste a lot of horizontal space depending on which widgets you use. I’ve also run into a few vertical spacing issues with widgets appearing taller than they should. Aviate is a young product and these are things that will get worked out in time, so I can’t ding them too hard for this.
I’d like to see battery level added to the header area alongside the date and time. I’m one of those people for whom the little battery meter in the notification bar is not enough and I find myself frequently pulling down the settings panel to see the actual charge percentage.
Despite the minor flaws of a young product, Aviate is a useful tool and I have found it streamlining my workflow in a number of scenarios since I started using it. But the control freak in me wants more.
As I was ruminating on the idea of Aviate this weekend and some of the ways that I wished it could be made to integrate better into the way I contextualize my life, I had a bit of a brainstorm. Could I build a better (for me) Aviate using Tasker?
I haven’t worked through the implementation fully, but I have gotten far enough to be reasonably confident that it can work. Aviate basically presents you with different home screens for different times, locations, and activities. That idea is actually very simple to replicate using Tasker. I use Nova Launcher, but this should work with the stock Android launcher as well. All I did was setup a different home screen in Nova Launcher for each of the contexts I wanted to work in. Then, using Takser’s “Go Home” action, I can automatically switch to the appropriate context based on time or location just like Aviate does. And with Tasker I can also switch contexts based on a host of other criteria: NFC tags, screen orientation, incoming notifications, light level, whether the device is docked or charging. You could really get creative.
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[G+] iOS 7: First Impressions
For the most part, I find #iOS7 to be pretty ugly. An overcorrection from too much skeuomorphism to too few effects of any kind. Gradients, shadows, textures, reflections: gone. The grey background on folders and all the blue stick icons are especially unappealing to me.
That said, I very much like the new lock screen and Notification Center. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about it filling the whole screen when you pulled it down, but after a few minutes I was sold. Even so, we still need rich/actionable notifications. The fact I can archive an email on Android right from the notification without launching the email client is one of the things that makes me pick up the #Nexus7 instead of the #iPad .
I also like the new multitasking app switcher UX. I don’t know if there’s an official name for that, but it’s much nicer than the old way and I think it’s better than the Android way.
I’m indifferent to Control Center. I think I would find it more useful on a phone than a tablet.
I don’t like the way the wallpaper moves beneath the icons. It’s a cool idea, but in practice it’s way too twitchy and draws my eyes away from where I want them to go.
iTunes Radio is neat enough, but not much more than another radio service. It’s not going to make me cancel my Google Music All Access subscription any time soon.
Overall performance is very good. Even on my old iPad 2 Safari is noticeably faster than in iOS 6.
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I’ve had a whole weekend to play with the new Nexus 7 and like the original, it’s a great device at a very good price. Is it perfect? No. Are there things I wish they had done differently? Of course. Even so, it’s the best small tablet out there.
I did not have the wow reaction to the screen that I was expecting to have and I’m not sure why that is. The 323ppi IPS display is probably the most touted feature of this device. It’s a big improvement over the original Nexus 7 and a huge improvement over the iPad 2 I’ve been using as my daily driver. All I can figure is that the Super AMOLED screen on my Galaxy Nexus with its 316 ppi caused me to not be as overwhelmed as I should have been.
Many have made this complaint and I’ll pile on. The top and bottom bezels are too big and the side bezels are too small. Holding the device in portrait mode, it’s too easy to accidentally tap or swipe with the thumb of the hand holding the device.
A lot of reviews I’ve read have lamented the decision to get rid of the textured, faux-leather backing of the original Nexus 7. Not me. I actually think I prefer the new soft-touch plastic backside.
Having two speakers is nice, but all the hype about “surround sound” is just silly to me. You can’t have surround sound with two speakers that close together. And speakers that small are never going to produce great audio. For a tablet, the audio is very good and the addition of a second speaker is more than welcome, but let’s not kid ourselves.
The Rear Facing Camera
The original Nexus 7 had a single, front facing camera. It was great for video calls and that was what I used it for mostly. I didn’t really miss a rear facing camera. But a year later, Vine has an Android app and it is more than a little sluggish on my Galaxy Nexus, so I have a feeling I’ll be getting a lot of use out of the rear facing camera on this new Nexus 7. 5 megapixels is nothing to get too excited about, but it’s adequate and should be at least as good if not better than the camera in my Galaxy Nexus. And they’re both better than the camera in the iPad 2.
The new Nexus 7 includes a notification LED, something that was absent from the original. This is both a welcome addition and a big annoyance. I’ve come to rely heavily on my phone’s notification LED. Using Light Flow on my Galaxy Nexus with its RGB LED, I can have different colors and flash rates for different types of notifications. It’s great for knowing at a glance what’s waiting for me. So I was more than a little disappointed when I found that the new Nexus 7 appears to have a white-only LED. I can still control the flash rate, but not the color. That’s a huge bummer, especially in a Nexus device that Google claims is supposed to be sort of a reference device for showing off what Android can do.
I’ve been running Jelly Bean 4.2 on my Galaxy Nexus for a while now. I’m not a gamer and I don’t have a need for restricted profiles, so 4.3 doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table for me other than the performance improvements like TRIM support. My hope is that when the Sprint Galaxy Nexus gets 4.3 I’ll get a lot more benefit than on a brand new tablet.
A Strong Sequel
This little guy is a great followup to a great original. It has its shortcomings, but if you’re looking for a small tablet at a good price I don’t think you’ll do better than this.
A frustrated Nowhere TV user said something the other day that I’ve been thinking about more than I should and I wanted to take a minute to try and explain how Nowhere TV is different from most channels on Roku and why it is a private channel (not in the Channel Store) and why I continue to maintain that Nowhere TV is an experiment, a crowd-sourced sandbox where users and I can explore together what the platform can do.
This user was upset because a certain piece of content was not playing well on their Roku. This is not at all uncommon. On any given day there may be any number of content sources that break for any number of reasons. I do what I can to fix them, but in many cases the root cause of the problems are beyond my control. A server may go down. An RSS feed my be malformed or not updated regularly. A video may be encoded in a way that makes it not play correctly on Roku. These are things that I can’t do anything about other than wait and hope. And more often than not the problems are corrected by the publishers within a few days.
When I tried to explain to my frustrated user that the particular problem they were having was caused by the way the content was encoded by the publisher (not me) they got even more upset and said something to the effect of “If I go to a restaurant and order a burger and the waiter brings it to me burnt I don’t expect the waiter to tell me that the problem was caused by the chef and he can’t do anything about it.”
I understand the metaphor and I appreciate the point this person was trying to make, but it also demonstrates their misunderstanding about how Nowhere TV works. Nowhere TV is a content aggregator, which in simplistic terms means that it links to content from lots and lots of different sources and that I as the maintainer of the channel have no control over those content sources.
So what’s wrong with the hamburger metaphor? Let’s start with the waiter and the chef, they both work for the same restaurant and that restaurant was responsible for cooking the burnt hamburger. That’s different from Nowhere TV in that I (the waiter) and the content publishers (the chefs) do not work for the same entity. The content in Nowhere TV is encoded (cooked) by hundreds of different entities and Nowhere TV simply curates it all and presents it to users in a somewhat unified, coherent interface.
Furthermore, the hamburger in this metaphor is an entire product being sold to the customer. One piece of content out of the hundreds (thousands?) in Nowhere TV not working for a day or two would be more like the lettuce on the cheeseburger being a bit limp.
Oh, and the hamburger would have to be free for this metaphor to work. Nowhere TV doesn’t cost users a dime.
All this talk about hamburgers is making me hungry.
A more apt analogy for my frustrated user might be one in which they buy an iPod from Target and after some period of time it stops working. They cannot then go back to Target (the waiter) and demand that they repair the broken iPod, they have to go to Apple (the chef) for that. And again Nowhere TV is free, so It would be more like Target giving someone an iPod free of charge, the iPod breaking, and that person demanding that Target repair it.
An even better comparison, and one much more closely related to what’s really going on here, would be a web browser. If one specific web page is not displaying correctly in my web browser, I don’t complain to the developers of the browser, I complain to the authors of the web page. Nowhere TV is not unlike a web browser in that respect. It renders content authored by other people. If those other people don’t author the content well, Nowhere TV won’t be able to render it well.
I got a Keurig machine as a gift a few months ago. It’s not something I would have bought for myself, but an interesting gadget nonetheless. My biggest problem with it is the amount of non-recycleable waste it generates. Every time you brew a cup of coffee in it, you send a spent k-cup to the landfill. Thats a serious hit to your environmental karma. But there are things you can do to minimize the footprint of the Keurig.
The easiest thing to do, although not the greenest way to use the machine, is to go ahead and use standard k-cups, but not send the whole spent cartridge to the landfill. After brewing a cup, instead of just chucking the used k-cup in the trash, take a knife and peel the top off. Once you open the k-cup, you can easily remove the used grounds and the paper filter inside. These bits can go into your compost pile and the only thing you have to send to the landfill is the shell of the cup.
An even greener, and much cheaper way to use the Keurig is to not use pre-packaged k-cups at all. Get a reusable cartridge that you can fill with your own coffee grounds. After brewing a cup, just toss the used grounds in your compost pile. Zero landfill waste. This method can also produce a higher quality cup of coffee after a bit of experimenting and tweaking. There are plenty of reusable cartridges available. My father has the EkoBrew and he likes it quite a bit. Unfortunately, my particular model of Keurig only works with the official reusable cartridge, which has some shortcomings and tends to brew a pretty weak cup of coffee out of the box, but with some creative modding it can be made to do a pretty good job.
As with any method of coffee brewing, the most important thing you can do to get the best result is to grind your own beans. You want o be sure and buy a burr style grinder and not one that just has a couple spinning blades inside. A burr grinder will produce a more consistent grind and they generally last longer. As far as beans go, experiment and try different brands and blends until you find something that suits you. If at all possible though, you should look for fair trade or direct trade beans and organic is always a good idea too.
Unless you are lucky enough to live somewhere that has really good tap water, you probably want to use filtered water to brew your coffee. Not only will filtered water eliminate many of the off-flavors in most tap water, it will also help cut down on the amount of mineral deposits that build up in the machine over the course of many uses.
When it comes to brewing a cup of coffee in a Keurig machine with a reusable cartridge, you’re going to have to experiment with how fine to grind your beans, how full to fill the cartridge, and how firmly to pack the grounds. What ends up being the right combination for you is going to depend on your machine, which type of reusable cartridge you’re using, and how strong you like your coffee. But once you find the right formula it will be well worth the time and effort.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ostentation and the reasons so many people treat money in ways that to me seem very reckless. When it comes down to it, I think the primary driving factor is external validation. People who spend money in irresponsible ways tend to do so because they seek the approval of others. The problem is that they’re seeking the approval of the wrong people for the wrong reasons.
For purposes of this discussion, it’s important to draw a distinction between having money and spending money. There are plenty of wealthy people who are not at all reckless with their money and there are also lots of less well off people who are very reckless with what little money they have. And a whole spectrum of people in between. That is to say that I don’t believe that affluence is a significant factor in the behaviors I’m about to discuss. Nor do I think education is a significant factor. There are plenty of very smart people who can be very stupid when it comes to money. And plenty of less educated people who are fiscally responsible.
Spending money, even to excess is not necessarily a vice in and of itself. The problem arises when you do it for the wrong reasons. Nor is seeking external validation necessarily a vice on its own. We all seek the approval of others in some way. But when a person turns to excessive spending as a means of acquiring that approval, what does that say about that person?
I’ll use myself as an example and try not to sound too self-rightious in the process. I seek external validation with my work. I build products that I hope people will find useful and enjoy using. And in exchange for those products, I hope that some small subset of those people will praise me for them. I seek external validation for the quality of my accomplishments, not for the size of my house or the label on my jeans. Similarly, I place a much higher value on other people’s intellect and achievements than on their possessions. This may mean that I end up with a smaller than average peer group, but it is the best way to ensure that my peer group will be composed of people who tend to share those values. Quality over quantity.
Now let’s consider the person who buys their external validation by building a facade of expensive, unnecessary possessions around them. Ostentatious clothes, cars, houses, and other items will attract external validation and probably quite a bit of it from people who place an inherent social value on those things, but it’s low quality validation by definition. Peer approval garnered in this matter is less valuable because it comes from the types of people who value ostentatious behaviors. Quantity over quality.
The difference between these two types of people is in how they measure external validation. On one hand, we have people who measure validation in terms of the quantity of peer approval they receive, disregarding the quality of that approval. The word quality referring to the motivations of the people giving the approval. These people also tend to praise others based on the perceived quality of their possessions. Meaning that these people tend to believe that a person is more worthy of praise because of the label on their clothes or the type of car they drive. On the other end of the spectrum, we have people who measure validation in terms of the quality of the peer approval they receive. Meaning that they place higher value on praise received for achievement than praise received for possessions. In the extreme case, these people place zero value on possessions, but in reality very few examples of that extreme case exist. In fact, people in this second group often place very high value on the quality of possessions, but they measure that quality in terms of functionality rather than style. For example. these people may place a much higher value on a high performance sports car than they would on a luxury SUV with gold trim and fancy wheels. Or to frame it a bit differently, they might choose to spend their disposable income on something useful like an e-reader rather than something purely cosmetic like designer sunglasses. This could spin into a discussion of a whole other aspect of this phenomenon, but for now I think it can be summarized adequately as valuing craftsmanship over showmanship. I was tempted to say function over form, but form is actually a very important aspect of function in many cases. The problem is when you pay a premium for form that doesn’t contribute to function, so I think craftsmanship over showmanship is a better phrase.
I realize there may be quite a bit of circular logic in my reasoning, but that’s the point. Ostentation is just part of a dangerous, self-perpetuating cycle and regardless of which of the behaviors that make up that cycle kicks things off, the effects will likely be the same. A penchant for reckless spending will tend to attract a peer group with a value system skewed toward the superficial. In turn that value system will be internalized and galvanized by the members of that peer group. And the reinforcement of that value system will cause members of that peer group to be more likely to adopt reckless spending habits.
And there’s a similar cycle for more frugal people. People who value achievement over possessions will tend to gravitate to a peer group that shares and reinforces those values. As a result, those people will tend to make frugal choices because there is little if any external validation to be had from their peer group for making ostentatious decisions.
So I’m making my way through Chris Hayes’ book Twilight of the Elites and I came across a section today that really stuck me. In discussing how the system has become perverted to a destructive degree over time he hit on something that I’ve seen up close and personal. Mr. Hayes gives several examples of this, but my favorite had to do with rating agencies. Historically, rating agencies made their money from investors who subscribed to their services to get an unbiased evaluation of a given investment opportunity. Over time, that model has changed so that today, the rating agencies make their money from the financial firms that are the ones marketing the investments they rate. The effect is that the big banks are effectively paying the rating agencies for a good rating. Which is how all that toxic derivative mortgage stuff got triple-A ratings and blew up the housing bubble.
So where have I seen this? On the condo board I served on for a year. At some point in the past, my condo association made the unfortunate decision to contract our property management and our neighborhood services to two companies that were operated by many of the same people out of the same building. Two companies on paper, but in many ways one effective operational entity. The problems this situation created were much like the problems Mr. Hayes observed with the rating agencies. A property management company that is so closely tied to a neighborhood services company is more likely to behave in a way that benefits that neighborhood services company at the expense of the condo associations it serves. And I saw multiple instances of this during my time on the condo board. On a number of occasions the property management company urged us to use the neighborhood services company they were affiliated with for a given job even though the numbers we were being presented with indicated that doing so would not be in the neighborhood’s best interest. Sometimes the jobs themselves were unnecessary to begin with. And sometimes, the bids presented to the condo board for these jobs would be incomplete or not meet the requirements the board had previously defined. Whether this was simple oversight, incompetence, or flat out collusion, I don’t know and I won’t speculate.
For example, speaking hypothetically, the condo board might ask to see bids for replacing a block wall. And in asking for those bids, the board may have very clearly specified that those bids should include painting the wall, but not include stuccoing the wall. Some time later, the property management company may have produced a bid from the neighborhood services company that was lower than bids from other companies, but did not include the cost of painting the wall. Again, whether these types of mistakes were intentional or not, I can’t say, but I did find it very disturbing. Especially because it happened over and over, indicating that there may be some sort of systemic problem with the process.
So, just like investors who pay ratings agencies for unbiased opinions on potential investments, we were paying this property management firm big bucks for their impartial evaluation of what actions they thought we should take to make our neighborhood the best it could be, but their affiliation with our neighborhood services company may very well have made that impossible. Much like the rating agencies’ relationships with the big banks tainted their ratings.
Near Field Communication (NFC) is the technology that makes Google Wallet work. It’s what lets your phone communicate with the credit card readers in some stores so you can pay with your phone. It’s also what makes Android Beam work so you can share contacts and web pages and other stuff with your friend’s phone by bumping the two together. And with the right tools, it can be made to a lot of other cool things.
The first thing you need to start playing around with NFC is some blank NFC “tags” as they’re called. Little PVC chips with a bit of storage embedded in them that can be read and written by an NFC enabled device. Then you’ll need an app for writing data to your tags. There are a number of apps in the Google Play Store for doing this, but my favorites are NFC Task Launcher and Tagstand Writer.
The simplest thing to do with a blank tag is to write a URL to it. Once you do, anyone who taps their NFC enabled device against your tag will automatically be taken to the URL you wrote to the tag in a web browser. This can be kind of fun for sticking tags in random places for people to discover, but it depends on people being savvy enough to know what to do with the tag when they encounter it.
It also occurred to me that this could be pretty cool when used in conjunction with geocaching. Hide a new cache, attach an NFC tag to it with the URL to the cache’s page. The last time I hid a cache, I plastered a QR Code on it to accomplish that, but an NFC tag could be even better as it wouldn’t wear out as quickly or get messed up if it rained.
You can also write a VCARD to an NFC tag, so when someone taps the tag, it adds a contact to their address book with the information from the tag. Or you can have a tag that checks the user into a given location of Foursquare when they tap it. Pretty cool.
But if you want to get really crazy, you can combine NFC Task Launcher with Tasker to automate all kinds of stuff on your device.
For instance, I have an NFC tag stuck to the wall next to my front door. Every time I come or go, I tap my phone against it and that tells my phone to run a Tasker task that switches back and forth from “home” mode to “mobile” mode. Home mode turns the wifi radio on, turns the mobile data and GPS radios off and tweaks some other settings for optimal use around the house. Mobile mode turns the wifi radio off and turns mobile data and GPS on for the best experience when I’m out and about.
I have another tag on my night table that tells Tasker to toggle “night” mode. Among other things, night mode increases the time between data syncs to save battery.
If you’re the type who spends a lot of time in the car, you could have a tag on your dash to do things like enable Bluetooth and launch Pandora.
With a little imagination and the right tools, the possibilities are limitless.
The first thing I noticed about my new Samsung Galaxy Nexus was the battery life. It was not good. Laying on the night table while I slept with only the wifi radio on (GPS, NFC, 4G, Bluetooth all disabled) the battery lost 30% of its charge. After reading up a bit on the device, I started to wonder if maybe I was being unreasonable. Most of the reviews I read praised the Galaxy Nexus for its above average battery life, so I guess most smartphones are even worse. The problem is that I wasn’t comparing to other smartphones, I was comparing to my iPad2 and my Nexus 7. Even so, I still wasn’t satisfied and I set out to find a solution. And I ended up finding it in a bit of an unexpected way.
The first thing to consider was a “battery saver” app. These are utilities that run in the background and try to be smart about switching the various radios on and off to save battery. I’m not as opposed to these apps as some people and I did use one with relative success on my Nexus 7, but they do come with some mildly scary “use at your own risk” warnings and I was quite a bit more leery about putting one on my phone. The phone is a device I rely on more than a tablet, not to mention that it cost about twice as much as the Nexus 7, so if I bricked it I would be a very unhappy person. A battery saver also seemed like overkill for this use case. I was really only interested in managing the wifi radio and didn’t need all the other bells and whistles that come with most of them. And to boot, most battery saver apps are on the confusing side when it comes to configuring them.
I tried for a few days to improve battery life using Android’s built in settings. The best I could come up with was having the wifi radio disabled anytime the phone was asleep, that’s anytime the screen was off. Not an optimal solution, but it’s what there was. So I more or less resigned myself to the idea that I wasn’t going to do any better without taking a risk I wasn’t willing to take and I moved on to other things.
One of those other things was custom NFC tags (more on that in a future post) and in the course of reading up on all the stuff I can do with NFC, I came across an app called Tasker. Tasker is kinda sorta like Automator for the Mac, it lets you set up custom tasks (think Automator workflows) that can be invoked based on any number of criteria like “when the screen is off” or “every 15 minutes” or “when I stray too far from home”. The LED over my head lit up. Could this be the solution to my battery woes?
The downside of Tasker is that it costs quite a bit more than the average app and quite honestly I would not have sprung for it except that I had some money left on my Google Play account from the $25 credit I got when I bought the Nexus 7. So I installed it and started fiddling.
There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once I got the hang of it I was able to pretty easily set up a profile (to use Tasker’s vernacular) that runs every 15 minutes. If the screen is off when it runs, it activates my wifi radio for 1 minute then turns it back off. That way the device can sync data and receive notifications without running the wifi constantly. With my new Tasker profile activated, I laid the phone on the night table and closed my eyes. The next morning I was pleasantly surprised to see that the phone’s LED was flashing to let me know it had received notifications during the night. That meant the wifi had been on at some point. I was even more surprised when I picked up the phone and found that the battery had lost only 10% of its charge. Huge improvement. That means that maybe, just maybe I’ll be able to keep this phone alive entirely on solar power like I did my previous phone.
There are tons of other nifty things Tasker can do and I’m sure I’ll be spending a good amount of time tinkering with it. For instance, Using the GPS radio, I could modify my wifi toggling profile to only activate when I’m at home. That way it isn’t turning on the wifi radio to check for a connection if I’m not near my router.
I’m especially looking forward to experimenting with Tasker in conjunction with NFC, but that will have to wait until the blank NFC tags I ordered get here.