10 Back To School Android Apps Not On Everyone’s List

So there are a lot of Android Back to School app lists floating around (like this one and this one) and most pull out the same old “back to school”-esque apps (Dropbox, Evernote, etc..). Now these aren’t awesome apps – they’re just way too common to be “discovered”. Here’s my top 10 list of apps – many you might not have ever heard of. You can find them all in the Market, just search by name:

10. LauncherPro
Because the stock launcher is just not as cool

9. AnyPost
Sometimes you want to shoot a cool picture out to everyone through ping.fm – Twitter followers, facebookees, gchat status watchers, that guy you know who uses buzz, etc..

8. App Protector Pro
So you can let others play with your phone without wondering if they found that sextmessage

7.  c:geo
If you don’t geocache, you might want to start – it’s a fun way to explore your new campus (or your old one).

6. CallTrack
When was the last time I called Mom asking for money? When was the last time I called Mom period?!? Or when Mom says “You never call”, you can reply “Yes, I do, 2 Wednesdays ago about 9 PM”.

5. Google Translate
Know what the foreign kids are saying

4. PicSay
Because funny stuff will happen, and this can add the extra laugh to make your facebook photo post hilarious!

3. StopWatch (
Sometimes you need to time stuff, in lab classes, in real life, etc…

2. ThrottleCopter
A quick game, that’s addicting, and free.

and Jon’s #1 App:
1. 3Banana Notes
Easily sync up stuff on your phone to computer. For example, jot down that hotties phone number while chatting in class, sync it, and later when your phone is dead, you can call her and ask her to bring you to a power source!.

Mandate Update & Unreleased Tidbits!

Since most of my public updates on Mandate, my novel, have come in the form of quick Twitter posts and status updates, I figured I’d actually write down some more than 140 characters to let everyone know where I’m at. And while I’m at it, I’m going to let slip a few things that no one knows yet about the novel as it reaches it’s halfway point.

First of all, Mandate’s first draft is officially halfway finished as of now. It’s been just over 2 months since I started writing, and my plan as of now is to have the first draft written by Labor Day. Revisions will then begin, and if all goes according to plan (who knows if it will), I’ll have it ready to go by mid-October. You guys will obviously know more than others, since you’ve been following since the beginning.

My schedule has actually deviated a few times, and it’s taught me some valuable things about writing fiction (as opposed to the non-fiction I normally write for work). Namely, inspiration is everything. Case and point? I was on a Chapter a week schedule until mid-June when I took a week to travel to Salt Lake to see my friend Steve. While in Salt Lake I had absolutely no desire to write, and so I didn’t (Felt a little guilty about that). Upon coming back, I had another heavy week and found myself 2 weeks behind schedule. On June 27, I should have been working on Chapter 7. In reality I was working on the beginning of Chapter 5. Ugh.

This week, the week according to my goals set in mid-may should have seen me working on Chapter 9, actually saw me finishing chapter 6 on Monday. But then for whatever reason, I got inspired. Chapter 7 was pounded out in just 3 days, and I am now about 20% through Chapter 8. By mid-week next week I’ll probably be on Chapter 9.

One might wonder why I’m tracking my progress in this way. After all, a novel is a creative exercise, why burden myself with chapter deadlines of my own whim? When it’s done it’s done, why keep a stringent regiment of writing for an hour each day? And why even have a chapter outline forcing myself to put certain plot elements in at certain times. That doesn’t sound very creative, expressive, or spontaneous now does it?

Damn right it doesn’t sound that way – because if I did just sorta “go with the flow”, there is a great chance that this thing would never be done. We’ve all probably seen the following Family Guy clip, but it’s worth watching:

When I originally watched that, years ago, I thought it was funny. Now it gives me what some would call the “douche chills“. I don’t know how other fiction writers with 1 book under their belt feel, but as a writer in other contexts I know that if I don’t have some sort of structure to my own work, I could easily become like Brian in the clip above. Incidentally in a recent episode Brian finishes his book, after many years. I don’t want to take that chance, I want this damn thing to be done at some point! So in order to do that, I’m keeping on a schedule, and posting regular updates.

Second of all, I’ve decided to let you guys in on a few pieces of info regarding the book. Why? Well to keep you interested damnit! I realize my “only tell you the title” thing is a bit annoying. Originally this was because I was going to incorporate reader ideas into the book and didn’t want you to try to answer in a way that would change the plot. Not that I think it would have occurred – but I figured I’d keep it vague to encourage spontaneous responses from you guys.

Well for the most part, asking questions flopped. I have a few good ones which I’m saving and will probably put in during revisions of the book, but in general I stopped asking when people stopped responding. Some even thought I abandoned the project all together, which thankfully I did not.

So what tidbits am I going to tell you? Well I’m going to answer a few questions on here that others have asked me before.

Question: So you’re writing a Science Fiction novel right? you’re a computer geek yourself, and a Sci Fi fan, so that’s what it’s about right? I bet it’s set far in the future!
OK, this one amazed me since more than one person asked it. I’m sad to say this to all you sci fi hopefuls, but the book is not Science Fiction. It does feature a highly improbable plot (Of course if it featured a probable plot it would be pretty damn boring right?), and it IS set in the future. How far in the future you ask? About 2 years. Sorry, not much has changed in my 2 years in the future history.

Question: Is it about you?
So the story is written in the first-person, which means through the eyes of my main character. While he shares a few things in common with me (for example, at the start of the book his job involves some of the things I’ve done in the past to make a living), he isn’t me. For one thing, he’s older. They say you should write what you know, so in that sense many of the characters have aspects to their personality that are like me, but I wouldn’t say anyone in the book is patterned off of me or anyone I know. That being said, I do have one character engage in some rather odd behavior I once witnessed a friend do. Why? Because it was funny to watch at the time and thus funny to write about from a slightly different perspective.

Question: When will I get to read it?!?
Ah, you want to actually read the book so you can validate all those feelings of mediocrity I feel by telling me it’s “OK”. Sure, we can do that. Once the first draft is done, and the prologue and first chapter are revised, I’ll be making them available for free. You’ll find information on that when it’s time, hopefully toward the end of September.

Third of all, and last, Why the hell am I doing this?

This is a question I’ve gotten and I think it really deserves more than just a paragraph to explain.

So I’m a part-time computer geek and full-time psychologist (Some times I use the fancy term “Behavioral Economist” when I’m actually studying financial decisions, but mostly I’ll just say I’m a researcher or psychologist). On my wall hangs various degrees that look very nice, and buried away I have awards and certificates related to my writing for Windows Phone Thoughts and my enthusiasm for Microsoft products. I also have dozens of odd-ball websites and videos out there. But I don’t have any background in fiction, have never taken a creative writing class, and have never shown any interest in novel writing before. So why now? Good question.

I’m writing this book for 3 reasons:

1. I’ve always wanted to write something substantial (yes, as someone pointed out to me, I suppose I’m not counting my dissertation) and interesting to read. I just never had a good idea before. The author note in the book will lay out how I got this idea, and tortured half-started writing projects on my hard drive and testify that I’ve started projects in the past that have never gotten even 1/20th as far as Mandate has. Call it my “Bucket List” or whatever you want, but at some point I want to be able to say I wrote a novel. It just sounds cool.

2. Here’s the goal that appeals to my computer side. I’m really curious how one goes about self-publishing a book in both physical and electronic form. Is it really possible for Joe Schmo (or Jon Westfall) to wake up one day and start writing, and months later have their product available in respectable book sellers or at least in a form that looks like a real book. If it’s promoted, does it really have a chance of becoming even slightly successful (by the way, my definition of success would be to sell it to 3 people whom I haven’t met – that would be cool). So in order to find out how the whole self-publishing thing works in 2010, I need to have something to self-publish.

3. Here’s the goal that appeals to my psych side: This project gets me writing on a regular schedule and used to sitting down and creating something. After writing fiction, which is completely made up, taking theories I already have developed and tested and getting them written down should be easier. After all, I already know the entire plot of a research paper, whereas Mandate has been developing in a rather looser fashion (In Week 1 of writing I knew the rough plot, but details don’t get filled in until much later, and I’m still not completely sure the details of how the protagonist overcomes the actions of the antagonist). In short, this summer writing project is fun and hopefully helpful. If reason 3 doesn’t work out though, it was still fun.

So that’s why I’m writing.  So to Recap this long post: You now know a bit more about the book than just the title. It’s called Mandate, it’s not science fiction, it’s set 2 years in the future, and I’m not in it (Although I’m seriously considering giving myself a cameo as “guy on the train” or something like that). I’m writing it because I want to, and I want to learn more (Sorta like why I bought a bunch of VoIP hardware a few years ago to teach myself about VoIP technology). Lastly, If you’ve made it through this post so far, you’ll also be richly rewarded for your time spent by getting sneak previews and more tidbits in the future. How so? Well, because you’ll know about the Newsletter I’m starting to blast out Mandate Updates. So Sign up now, and get the inside scoop as a weirdo psychologist geek works on the second-half of his first novel.

Review: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Title: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin
Started: 11/30/09
Finished:  1/15/10
More Information:
Amazon
Jon’s Summary: If you ever decide to read a book on Abe Lincoln, you should probably read this one. Why? Well because about halfway through the book I realized that it read more like fiction than history. You really feel connected to historical figures that died over a hundred years ago due to Goodwin’s writing style. And even though you know that the book will come to an abrupt stop on April 15, 1865, you still hope things may turn out differently!

Read this book mostly over 3 weeks, as I didn’t get much reading in over the holiday. It goes surprisingly fast as you want to know what will happen next. For me, someone who did extremely well in US History, it was a great refresher course for material I hadn’t studied in 10 years. It also gives some interesting insight into 19th century relationships, including the lost relationship type known as “intimate platonic male friendship”. While I’m fairly close to a few of my male friends, I don’t think I would ever write to them about how I “longed to feel their love”!

More than anything else the book underscores the benefits of rational thought over emotional even under pressure. Many times Lincoln could have succumbed to petty emotional decision making regarding subordinates, however he always gave himself time to refocus — in many cases writing letters he never sent due to his rashness of tone within them.

Great read.

Fall Semester Kicks Off

Today is the first day of the Fall Semester, and I’m typing this at the ungodly hour of 7 AM (7:37 to be precise). Leaving in 10 min. to head up to UT (Probably grabbing something for my lunch first) and then teaching this morning & afternoon. If you’re a student of mine who has decided to learn a bit more about me – Welcome to the wonderful JonWestfall.Com – now don’t spend too much time reading the odd bits of mind candy I have here! After all, you have studying to do ūüôā

Cavs Frickin’ Win Eastern Finals

As a Cleveland sports fan, I’m shocked. This just doesn’t happen to Cleveland – we always lose. How we won this time is beyond me, but I’m not unhappy with it. Now on to the Spurs, who (again) are supposed to kill us. I’m happy with the conference, but I’d be even more happy if the Spurs and Cavs go to game 5 and beyond!

Lawn Wars

I have no idea what number LW this was… but for anyone who ever cared, 3 1/8th bags of grass today, a little over an hour time. T & H are on their way up, so I guess it’s off to a quick shower before they get here, as I look like a grass monster.

Fun With The Head

I’ve decided for a limited time only to bring one of my favorite photo albums back out of storage and place online.  Fun With The Head details Tony, Holly, & My attempts to place the jamaican head that lives in my back patio around the house in various interesting poses.  The head pics always remind me of summer, which is why they’re back!

Jon’s Pocket PC Application Listing!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!!!
Oh Lord, If I have a vice it’s Pocket PC Software.¬† Over the years I’ve racked up A LOT of registration keys for these things.¬† So here is the list of software I own, use, or have used, and my comments. Affiliate links for Pocket PC Thougths are provided if available.¬† My preferred store is Handango, although you could use PocketGear just as well. In April 2005 I purchased the Pocket PC Magazine Best Of Everything CD which entitled me to register a lot of software.¬† Software I registered through it are marked with an *.
Key:
Unused – I never really used this software as much as I thought I would, or I bought / registered it while it was on sale in case I ever would need it (Obviously, I don’t need it…). If I bought this and never used it (and it h
as no * next to it, indicating that I paid honest to goodness money at the time), you might want to stay clear unless you’re SURE you’ll use it!
Retired РI used it for a period of time, but gradually stopped using it for one reason or another.  Perhaps the functionality was built into a new PPC, newer software, etc..
Active¬†– I’m currently using this program full-time
Part-Time – I use this application part-time, or when need calls for it.

 Name Price Status Comments Link
 Agenda Fusion 7*  $29.95  Unused  Registered it just to have it handy.  PI is still my preferred PIM.  Handango
 Calligrapher  $39.95 %
26nbsp;Part-Time
 Nice Text imput tool, and version 8.0 is better than ever.  Handango
 Cell Profiler Pro  $24.95  Retired  Neat little tool to change the profiles on your Pocket PC Phone Edition as you moved from cell site to cell site.  Handango
¬†CityTime for Pocket PC ¬†$14.95 ¬†Part-Time ¬†Registered it as part of the Best Of Everything CD.¬† Works great when travelling, as calculating Time zones in my head is tricky for me! ¬† ref=”http://www.handango.com/ampp/store/PlatformProductDetail.jsp?siteId=311&jid=DEA9C421FAX5A442243316DD138123F1&platformId=2&productType=2&productId=16103&sectionId=0&catalog=30&topSectionId=-1″ target=_blank>Handango
¬†CodeWallet Pro* ¬†$29.95 ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
¬†DoubleLauncher ¬†$9.95 ¬†Retired ¬†Used it when I had limited hard buttons and wanted to get the most from them.¬† It’s a pretty sweet app for that purpose! ¬†Handango
 Fonix VoiceDial  $15.95  Retired  Used it before MS Voice Command.  Works great.  Handango
 FourOStudent.net  $29.95  Retired  Used it as an undergraduate Рgreat way to keep track of what you need to do.  Handango
 Gigatask  $10.00  Reti
red
 Great task switcher  Handango
¬†GPSGate* ¬†$29.95 ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
 Handmark Games (Tetris, Monopoly, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit)  $19.95 (each)  Part-Time  These games are really fun and addicting.  I install them whenever I anticipate a lot of time to kill.  Monopoly is the best, IMHO  Handango
(Monopoly)
 Name Price Status Comments Link
¬†HudsonMobile Phone Dashboard ¬†$14.95 ¬†Retired ¬†Used it to keep track of my minutes when I was on a more minute-crunching cell plan.¬† Moved off that plan and haven’t needed it since.¬† Great app! ¬†Handango
 Ilium Software: eWallet  $29.95 (Pro)  Active  What
I use to store all the registration numbers! and all my other life-saving important information.  It does this nicely, with a desktop component!
 Handango
 Ilium Software: ListPro  $29.95 (Pro)  Active  Lists. We all have them, this program has it covered.  I particularly like some of the stock lists on their site, such as the PHP reference!  Handango
 Ilium Software: Newsbreak  $19.95  Retired  One of the first, and nicest PPC Newsreaders, I only retired it and went to Egress beca
use of it’s lack of enclosure support.¬† Otherwise, rock solid and a nice design!
 Handango
 IM+  $29.95  Unused  Used it for IM ing for a bit, but the registration / activation scheme was a hassle.  Handango
¬†imov Messenger* ¬†$19.95 ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
¬†MeetingMute ¬†$8.95 ¬†Retired ¬†Used it to auto mute my phone when I had more appointments during the day.¬† Less appointments and leaving my cell in my office when I’m just a few doors down meant not worrying as much. I bought it at $14.95 and thought it was a great deal then! ¬†Handango
 MemMaid  $11.99  Part-Time  Cleans out garbage files.  Who could ask for more.  Handango
¬†Mobidial.NET ¬†$14? ¬†Unused ¬†Nice interface for phone dialing, but crashed my i-mate a few more times than I would have liked.¬† Hard resets aren’t fun. ¬†Handango
 Mobipocket Reader Pro  $29?  Unused  Bought it, never used it as much as I thought I would.  Homepage
 MTux Software (All Titles!)  variable  Unused  All their programs are great but a little bare-bones & buggy.  Fun to play with, and cheap to buy, take a look at www.mtux.com  Homepage
 Name Price Stat
us
Comments Link
¬†MyPhoneProfiles ¬†? ¬†Unused ¬†Used it, but not for long.¬† Don’t have pleasant memories, but you may have different experiences with their software. ¬†JGUI
¬†NetFront v 3.1* ¬†$29.80 ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
 Odyssey Client 1.3  variable  Unused  Homepage
 Ostia  variable  Part-Time 3E  Homepage
 Personal Vehicle Manager  Retired  Handango
 PhatPad  Part-Time  Handango
¬†Photogenics* ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
 PI CorrectTime  Unused  Homepage
 PI Today  $10  Retired  Handango
 PlanMaker 2004  Unused  Homepage
 Pocket Backup Plus (Sprite Backup)   E  Active Waiting for the WM5 upgrade to this, as it would be nice for saving configuration settings, even with persistent storage in WM5  Handango
 Name Price Status Comments Link
¬†Pocket Breeze* ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
 Pocket Controller 5* %2
6nbsp;$30.95
 Active  Great for controlling my PPC from afar.  Awesome on my Mpx smartphone as well.  Handango
¬†Pocket Cook Deluxe Web Edition* ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
 Pocket Informant  $29.95  Active  My favorite PIM replacement.  Just makes things look prettier and easier on the eyes!  Handango
¬†Pocket Mechanic* ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
 Pocket DVD Studio*  Active  Handango
 PowerStart  Retired  Handango
 Reensoft PIEPlus  Retired  Handango
¬†Repligo for Pocket PC ¬†Unused ¬†Thought I’d use it alot… I didn’t! ¬†Handango
¬†Rudeo Control for WMP* ¬†Unused ¬†Registered it, but haven’t used it yet.¬† Looks useful. ¬†Handango
¬†Snapture for PPC ¬†Unused ¬†Thought I’d use it alot… I didn’t! ¬†Handango
 Name Price Status Comments Link
 Softick Card Export II  Active  Handango
 Spb Arkaball  Part-Time  Handango
 Spb Finance  Retired  Handango
 Spb Full Screen Keyboard  Retired  Handango
 Spb GPRS Monitor  Part-Time  Handango
 Spb Imageer  Active  Handango
 Spb Pocket Plus  $24.95  Active  Simply one of the best applications I own.  Slows down performance however, which can make it really annoying.  Most of the time, however, it lives on my PPC.  Handango
 Spb Time  Active  Handango
 Spb Tips %
26amp; Tricks
 Part-Time  Handango
 Spb Diary  Active  Handango
Name Price Status Comments Link
 Textmaker 2004  Unused  Handango
 Tweaks2k2.NET*  Unused  Handango
 Vito ButtonMapper  Retired  Handango
¬†Vito SoundExplorer 2005* ¬†Unused ¬†Thought I’d use it alot… I didn’t! ¬†Handango
 WebIS Mail  Retired  Handango
 Egress (10/22/05)  Active  Handango
 Microsoft Voice Command  $39.99  Active  Tell your phone / PDA to do stuff and it does it, enough said!  Handango
¬†Resco Explorer 2005 ¬†$24.95 ¬†Active ¬†Best File Explorer replacement out there.¬† There are also some good freeware tools too, but this is the most inclusive tool I’ve found. ¬†Handango