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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Android apps - some new kids on the block

Astrobot and Mastermind look very interesting for serious business people.

This is an email program, on a Desktop or Notebook which will show your emails on the left and your calendar on the right. Naturallyy this can’t be done on a mobile apps, so a simple click between the two. At present it is only available on the Mac Desktop or in the Android and Iphone app stores.

It has a way to go, but the team of 28 in the company developing this are successful software entrepreneurs who sold their previous software program for around $350,000,000.

At present Astrobot links in to both Amazon Alexa and Slack. By the end of the year they will probably link and work for a lot more. For the office, the Amazon Echo is cheaper and will do everything that Alexa does except Alexa has better speakers for music which you may not require.

At present it is free, but I hear it will eventually be charged out to companies, although I have been informed it may be free for the single user.

Here’s their own blurb:

The Press?
  • Mashable: The 12 best apps of 2017
  • The Wall Street Journal: “The cleverest email client”
  • Product Hunt: Mobile App of the Year
  • TechCrunch: “A high-end Gmail replacement”
  • Fast Company: “This email app uses AI to keep your inbox under control”
  • Lifehacker: “The magic really comes from the app’s built-in digital assistant”

Why Astro
• Modern, intelligent features for FREE: Snooze, Unsubscribe, Send Later, Email Tracker, Priority Inbox, Unified Inbox, Calendar, and more, for Gmail, G Suite and Office 365 email accounts
• Astrobot: AI-powered email assistant that highlights important messages and questions, unsubscribes you from emails, and responds to hundreds of commands to help you stay on top of your mailbox and calendar
• Priority Inbox: Know which emails are most important with a focused inbox, powered by AI
• Calendar: View and manage your calendar directly from the Astro app, including an Agenda view with events for Snoozed emails, scheduled emails and reminders
• Slack Integration: Easily work across Slack and email. In Slack, read and respond to emails, and create Calendar events. In Astro, search for Slack messages and share emails to Slack channels
• Astrobot Voice & Amazon Alexa Skill: Read, manage,and reply to emails hands-free by talking to Astrobot, directly from the Astro app or from your Amazon Echo

AI-Powered Email Assistant
• Ask Astrobot: Responds to hundreds of natural language commands to manage, clean up, and search your inbox, add events to your calendar, set reminders, and learn how to use Astro
• Insights: Unsubscribe and archive suggestions for messages that can skip your mailbox
• Reminders: Automated reminders to follow up on important emails, questions, tracked emails, time-specific requests, and @mentions from other Astro users
• VIPs: AI-powered contact list management, so you always know when a priority email arrives
• Voice Commands: Manage your inbox by talking to Astrobot directly from the app
• Daily & Weekly Update Emails: Insights that help you clean up your mailbox and make it easier to know what to follow up on

Smart Inbox Management
• Priority & Other Inbox: Astro sorts your emails using artificial intelligence
• Smart Notifications: Eliminate distractions by getting notified only when an email is important
• Snooze: Swipe to read or respond to an email at a specific time, or when you get back to your Mac
• Email Open & Reply Tracking: Get notified when a recipient opens an email or get a reminder if you haven’t heard back on time
• Send Later: Schedule your emails to be sent at exactly the right time

• Unified Inbox & Calendar: Streamline your workflow and save time by viewing and managing your Gmail and Office 365 email accounts and calendars all in one place
• Calendar Assistant: Add simple events using natural language
• Complete View of Today’s To-Dos: Calendar includes events not only from Gmail and/or Office 365 email accounts, but also Snoozed or scheduled emails and reminders, so you get a complete view of your day
• Customizable Calendar Views: Choose which calendars and email accounts to display

Additional Features
• Customizable swipes
• Fast search
• Folders and Favorites
• Email aliases
• Signatures
• Attachments - Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, Quip, iCloud
• Rich text and emojis
• Support for Gmail, G Suite and Microsoft Office 365

I suggest you put their link in your brought forward diary for later in the year. Believe me, this software has potential. If you like experimenting, log in and use it now. I am, and thoroughly enjoying it. Just in case of problems, I use it in tandem with...

I consider this the best email app I’ve seen but it is only available on mobiles which destroys a lot of its potential.

This is an interesting program which will read your emails (as Astrobot does) but will read your SMS messages and allow you to send via voice. It communicates with both Alexa/Echo and Google Home (once again, their mini is best for office use). Like Astrobot it is in a stage of development but promises much.

Here, using their own words, is what they have done so far:

Mastermind lets you send and read SMS text messages, make and answer phone calls, get caller ID, find your phone, get notifications and launch apps on your mobile device and television via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant devices.

Mastermind connects your smartphone, personal computer, and television to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

* Send and receive SMS text messages
* Make Phone calls
* Find your phone
* Get Caller ID
* Read and manage all app notifications whether they come from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Email, Netflix, Youtube or any other app!
* Cast to Chromecast TV
* Get phone battery charge, data usage stats and app usage stats
* Turn on Wifi, Bluetooth and Do-Not-Disturb
* Launch Mobile Apps
* Start Google Maps navigation
* Send articles from your phone and personal computer to Alexa
and Google Assistant to read aloud
* See your phone's notifications, text messages, and phone calls on your personal computer
* More...

Mastermind Commands:

Subscribe to the Mastermind Youtube channel:

Download all the Mastermind Bots:

5 reasons to try out Mastermind:

1) To send a text message, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind to Send Message" and Mastermind will send the SMS message using your carrier phone number.

2) To find your phone, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind to Call My Phone" and Mastermind will ring your phone full volume even if it's in silent or do-not-disturb mode.

3) When your phone rings, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind Who's Calling?" to found out who's calling. Send unwanted calls to voicemail, say "Alexa, Ask Mastermind to Reject Call".

4) When your phone dings, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind What Was That?". Mastermind will read out the email, Facebook update, WhatsApp message, Tweet, Instagram post or any notification instantaneously without you reaching for your phone.

5) To make a hands-free phone call, say "Alexa/Ok Google, Ask Mastermind to Make Phone Call" and Mastermind will initiate the call from your phone or connected bluetooth speaker.

Mastermind takes your security and privacy very seriously. Mastermind uses end-to-end encryption to make sure that all of your information is secure.

All permissions on Mastermind are optional. If you do not grant the permission, you will not be able to use commands that require the corresponding phone permission.

This app uses the Device Administrator permission: Casting to Chromecast from Alexa requires Mastermind to be able to Unlock your phone. This requires Mastermind to have Device Admin Permission. If you don't want to cast to Chromecast from Alexa, you do not need to grant Mastermind this Device Admin permission.

For more details on permissions and which commands require which permission, please see Mastermind's privacy policy:

Mastermind is powered by the Convessa Connected Conversational Platform, the most powerful enterprise-grade connected conversational platform available. Learn more at

Two important points, the program relies on you having Alexa or the Echo Dot, as without one of these the program is pretty pointless. Remember, the program is still in Beta and is still growing. Once it is off Beta and works smoothly, with new items added, I will enjoy it. Let’s face it, most of us can dictate faster than we can type. I envisage executives with an armchair in their office, just issuing strings of commands!

Bonus to this article.

Evinote app for Android. (not Evernote!)
This is a handy dictating app. It has some good points and some bad points. But before I mention them, let me tell you where I find it really useful. I have it on my home screen and when I am out and about and an idea occurs to me, I dictate the idea. The app then types it out. Then I can either copy it to a clipboard, or share it. I share it to SimplyNotes for action when I get to the office.

Now if Mastermind can access that note and send it to an SMS message or email, it would be fantastic.

The pros
The idea that you can dictate is terrific as it isn’t always easy to get out a pen and piece of paper to scribble a note when on the move. Another point is, it won’t stop until you push a button, unlike Google Voice. I tested it by dictating a sentence and waited for five minutes and dictated something else and it just carried on as if there wasn’t a gap.

The Cons
You have to dictate slowly but then this is a free app with adverts, or for a low cost to remove the adverts.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Beware of these greedy mobile app writers

I have noticed a trend nowadays for app writers to rent out their apps at £x a month. This is sheer greed in most cases. The only legitimate case for this is if they have to rent business premises and employ staff to give massive backup. If this is the case, there may be a design fault in the app.

Take an app with 380,000 users containing advertising. They get an ongoing income, probably not that large, but they offer an upgrade for an app with no advertising and some extra benefits for £2.75. Supposing 170,000 decide to buy it as they love the app and want to support the writer. That’s an income of £467,500 – without the advertising income of the non-purchasers.

This website quotes:
The effective cost per thousand impressions, a measure that equalizes advertising revenue of apps with different click-through rates, ranged between $.53 and $1.12 in 2012. An impression occurs each time a new ad is displayed to a user. So if an app averages 1,000 daily users who see two ads each at an eCPM of $.50, the app would generate $1 on average each day.
Now supposing there is a similar app someone is renting at £1.25 a month. Supposing they only have 85,000 users. That is a regular income of £106,250 but this is per month.  One person is paying £1.25 a month which is £15.00 a year. Suppose he uses it over a ten year period? That’s £150.00 you’ve paid. And, overall, the app writer makes £12,750,000 – nice work if you can get it.

Take Quickbooks invoicing. £9.99pm = 119.88pa = £1,198.88 in ten years. And that’s for one app.

My advice here is, do not rent software if you can help it. An exception could be that you are in business and the app will save you more than the cost, and you can write it off for tax purposes.

I have set up and run five businesses in my life, selling them when the work has become boring and there were no more “challenges”. Annual spreadsheets normally show income and expenditure. Mine showed income, variable expenditure and fixed expenditure. (as an example, telephone equipment came under fixed and calls – which I could control - came under variable). I never minded fixed expenditure too much, but came down hard on variable expenditure.


Sunday, 27 May 2018

How productive are you working from home?

This article is aimed at both self-employed and office staff working from home.

The most important discipline here is self-discipline. To make sure you work at a sensible pace and, at the same time, get your work done.

I work from home, and I have four major projects on the go at any one time. I have a reminder app to remind me when each job needs to be started. And my phone buzzes at the following times. I use the 52:17 technique, that is 52 minutes concentrated work and 17 minutes for a rest break. This keeps me going at full pace throughout the day.

08:30 Administration
09:22 Rest break and phone calls
09:39 Project A
10:31 Rest break and coffee
10:48 Project B

… and so on until five o’clock.

Type in “Reminder” in your app search box in Google and you’ll find a few. But make sure you choose the one by Arthur Ivanets. Some are just a single date widget, but the ones you need to look for are for a series of alarms throughout the day. I’m on Android and use Reminder free, it’s £1.99 to remove the adverts which I am about to do. If not in the Apple Store, you may need to look through a few to find one suitable

An app available on both Android and Apple is called “Wunderlist”. This is ideal for adding all those chores that turn up daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. Home ones might include clean the Krups coffee machine every three weeks, Take a tablet at 11:00am every day – you’ll need that if you become engrossed in your work. Working reminders might include, send in weekly report for each week by noon every Monday. Ringing the boss every Thursday at 3pm. Normal day by day matters such as buy more printing paper and phone George about meeting up after work, could go into the Reminder app.

One other app is Simplenote which allows quick notetaking on your Android or Apple phone, and you can get versions for Windows, Apple or Linux to share across these platforms. There is also a web version for when you are on someone else’s computer. Google Keep is also ideal as is Evernote, but the latter two can have other uses. I use Keep for snippits of information I get from the Internet and with email. Evernote is useful for entering information, such as clothes sizes, my VoiP account information and other such information but naturally passwords aren’t kept in there.

A good electronic notebook which is networked to your home computer, or to the company if you are employed is very useful. I sometimes pop in with mine to the local coffee shop when I have a routine job which I can do as it breaks up the loneliness.

If it's convenient, include a minimum of a mile walk into your schedule. A brisk walk can do it in around 20 minutes. Best time is early afternoon so it puts some oomph into the tail end of the day. Ideally do it in a rest period – 10 minutes to the local coffee house leaves you seven minutes to order a coffee, 52 minutes working on one of your prrojects, and a ten minute return half mile in the next rest break another seven minutes to relax. As I say, working at home requires self discipline and not lying to oneself.

If you have other apps you prefer, please add them in the comments section.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

An interesting option on retirement

Or, perhaps, well after retirement when you are around 75.

It will also depend, of course, on whether you have children, whether the children are well off, whether they are still loving and supportive if not well off.

And whether, of course, you have invested wisely in pensions during your working life.

This article will assume that you haven't an adequate pension, and if you have children, they are either well off, or have neglected you.

First of all, if you need to go into a nursing home, and you can't afford a private one, there are certain restrictions as you can read in this Daily Telegraph article.

Of course, you can always sell your home and go on a "round the world" luxury holiday and live like a prince until it is all gone, and throw yourself at the mercy of the local council. You need to have less than £118,000 left if you've read the Daily Telegraph article in the above link.

Another way is to consider"Equity Release". This is where you sell your house to an insurance company. It is very difficult to say how much you will get as it depends on the value of your house, the area it is in, whether it is likely to go up in value and other criteria.

For example, if you release £50,000 now from a home worth £250,000 and the loan runs for 15 years, you will build up a debt of £123,000. If we assume that house prices rise at 5pc a year, the value will be £528,000 in 15 years' time. So you will have £405,000 remaining to bequeath.

However, this will still be a lot over the £118,000 mentioned earlier - so an outright sale and a very, very long around the world travel holiday might be your best bet.

But only if you don't have loving, and supportive children.


Friday, 18 May 2018

Some Middle Eastern Facts & Figures

Israel and the Middle East

There are so many misconceptions about Israel, the Palestinians, and the Middle East in general.

Accurate figures are hard to come by, so I have taken various facts and added the best figures to show the minimum below. The first three items are accurate.

The first known date that Jerusalem became Israel’s capital is very hazy, but it was a long time before the figure I show below. There are many figures between 602 and 670 when Mohammed established the Islam religion, but I have taken the earliest.

    • Square metres of the Middle East
    • 3.5m sq miles or 9 m sq km
    • Square meters of Israel
    • 20,770 sq kilometres

    • Percentage of Israel over the entire Middle East
    • zero point two three percent – 0.23%

    • The first known date that Israel existed
    • In the time of Abraham, 2,000 BC
    • Originally known as Canaan.

    • The first known date that Jerusalem became Israel’s capital.
    • Dates are very hazy but certainly before 1,500 BC

    • The first known date that Mohammed founded Islam
    • The date is uncertain other than it was in the seventh century AD.

The idea that Jews only inhabited the land known as Israel after WWII on the 19th May 1948 is therefore not at all accurate. In addition, as Muslims only came into being over 2,000 years after the Jews, it tends to put a different light on matters.

It is hard to say how many rockets the Palestinians have fired into Israel, but I found that the figure of 5,972 rockets have been fired into Israel between 2001 and 2011, I have been unable to get a more updated position.

Muslims have killed 11 million other Muslims since 1948. The amount over the centuries totals hundreds of millions but I’m trying to restrict numbers for this aspect to modern times.

Thomas Sowell wrote in ‘Race & Culture’ (page 188) in 1948 that 17 million people, mainly Africans, were captured and made slaves and shipped to Islamic countries. We learn from many articles in newspapers that this is still going on today.

This information has been taken from Wikipedia: There are 6,335,000 Jews in the Middle East mostly residing in Israel, there are between 27 and 34 million Christians across the Middle East, there are 800,000 - 1,100,000 Druze who live in Israel, Syria and Lebanon. There are large communities of Hindus in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia who number over 3.1 million and an estimated 902,890 Buddhists and 700,000 Yazidi and numerous other religions. Non-Muslims are about 43 million or 23% of the Middle East population, Muslims form the majority of the rest.

The Middle East consists of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. According to this definition, Middle East has a population of 218 million in 2013, i.e. 3.05% of the total world population (7.2 billion) in 2013.

So 6.3 million Jews (2.89%) and 218 million Arabs 97.11%) – and this was in 2013. As Israel has no oil it is probably the reason why the USA gives financial aid to Israel. But, to help balance that off, they also give aid to Palastine.

I have been careful to only offer facts of my short research here. I offer no insight or opinion. That is not the object of this article. However, I do find it interesting that the Arabs tend to hate the Palestinians, read on.

Note: I may be departing from facts in this last paragraph:

It is not easy to believe either side’s propaganda in this conflict: The following link is from an Israeli newspaper by an experienced Jew on the Middle East at a prominent Israeli university, but it makes fascinating reading although I suspect there is bias here.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

We need to get organised or perish

The Government ignore all our petitions with mealy-mouthed responses. As far as they are concerned, these are a nuisance, but a useful way for the population to let off steam.

The British people, the English in particular, have lost their “thrust” from the old colonial days of Nelson and Wellington.

We are now far better off, and comfortable, and dying for one’s country is only an option for the very few.

The globalists are winning. It is looking more and more unlikely that we will be free of the European Union. We have a Prime Minister who is either still a staunch remainer, or has no idea of how to negotiate, or has no courage. Some may well think it is all three!

The idea behind globalism and the New World Order is to have a One World Government. Once this happens, there will never be any elections, and whatever country you decide to move to, you will be under the same government. You will be trapped. Whatever you may earn, the taxes will be crippling as they will need to keep the workers poor so they don’t fight. If they do show spirit and start to organise, the government‘s thugs will find them and kill them, No mercy will be shown.

So we must become organised. Now, before the damage is done.

If we make a big show of this, then we will be infiltrated before we even get off the ground.

One person only should start this, and run it for the first year. He or she should enrol only friends and acquaintances after sounding them out thoroughly. Nothing should be mentioned on social media. Then each friend and aquaintance should approach other friends and acquaintances, sound them out, and enrol them. Every member should be extremely well known to at least one other member.

A database should be kept of the membership showing a full tree of dependences.

Members should come from both the left, and the right, but not extremists of either left or right.

These members should be of people who love their country, love their history, and feel disillusioned at they way our system is deteriorating.
  •     A Civil Service which has become politicalised
  •     Qangos costing huge amounts but jobs for the boys (and girls)
  •     The way we spend our foreign aid budgets
  •     A House of Lords which is destroying the Government
  •     A politicalised Local Government which should be there to assist residents and businesses
  •     A House of Commons which betrays the wishes of the people.
  •     International Conglomerates which suck Britain dry
I could go on, but unfortunately the list is endless so these should be enough to get on with.

After the first year, where members sole role should be (a) to sound out promising new members, and (b) to gather information in articles, and Hansard, for future ammunition. The group needs to take stock and decide, on the strength of membership, exactly what can be done to start to alter the status quo.

If everyone recruits two people in their first day and even if they never do more afterwards, in a further seven days we will have 256 members and in 14 days we would have nearly 33,000 members. If each member just found one piece of useful information, that would be 33,000 pieces of ammunition. Naturally it would take a little longer than this, but I see no reason why it shouldn’t be over 50,000 strong in the first year.

However, in the early days it might be useful to avoid recruiting people who could be disrupting to an embryo organisation, such as ours, finding its feet.
  •     Avoid members and voters of both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens who are pro Britain losing its sovereignty.
  •     Treat with suspician card carrying members and fervent voters of the Labour Party and the Conservatives
  •     UKIP have infiltrators, especially at the top. Treat members who joined within the last ten years with a healthy suspicion
  •     Avoid Civil Servants, NGOs, Qangos and other Government backed organisation staff or be very careful unless they are in a lowly position
  •     Avoid managers and above of all large SMEs and all Corporates
Never tell anyone you are a member of the group, even when you are sounding people out. Questions to ask when sounding people out are:
  •     Are you pro Brexit? If yes:
  •     Do you think our politicians will see it through? If no:
  •     Who do you think is behind our failure (If EU, Soros, NWO, Common Purpose, Globalists or similar, then:
  •     What can the ordinary person do about this?
Based on their last answer, perhaps with a little prompting from you, see if they are the sort of person who might risk a little to save our country. However, do not mention this new organisation for at least 48 hours whilst you reflect on their position.

Before approaching for the second visit, mention you’ve heard of an organistion of pro British people and ask whether we (you and your prospect) should try and approach them. If they are interested, go away and wait at least another 48 hours and meet them again and tell them about this.

But before you can recruit, you have to be recruited yourself.

Finally, I haven’t the resourses to start such an organisation myself and it might be years before one of my friends joined and then approached me.

I would appreciate any ideas you may have on this so, I implore you, to share your thoughts and ideas with me at with a heading “We need to get organised or perish”.

Someone with a little money to spare might decide to do something along these lines. But if so, don’t approach me so I can say under duress “I know nothing”!


Thursday, 10 May 2018

Social Media is only a tiny part of life, no matter how many are on it

This is the same whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any of the others.

One tends to live in a small world. I will talk about Twitter as it is the only social media I use, but what I am saying can refer to all social media.

First of all, think of how many people are living in the United Kingdom. The last information I can find is from Wordometers and is shown as 66,517,722 men, women and children as at 10th May 2018. This doesn’t include the many illegals.

Now take a look at the number of followers you have. If you are in a charity, in politics or an online newspaper, examing your followers and their estimated reach; you will note that, in the great scheme of things, you are not reaching that many people. I’m sorry to dishearten you, but this is a fact.

On Twitter recently, there was a petition to abolish the House of Lords. At the time of writing, 159,272 signatures have been collected. Alas, at present, even a figure so much higher than the 100,000 required when Parliament has to discuss it, you will see nothing will be done. The reason is simply that the government is quite happy to have Brexit destroyed. And having the Lords destroy it will save the government from total defeat at the next General Election.

Forget Parliament - they just send out mealy-mouthed replies after the MPs have debated your petition. To ensure success, you have to get the information out to many of the sixty-six million people out there who are not on Social Media.

Now, use your imagination with regard to the above petition. Suppose every signatory contacted all their relatives and friends, business contacts. Then suppose they delivered leaflets throughout their neighbourhood and, collectively, managed to get over two million signatures? The government will still try to ignore it. However, with that number, newspapers around the Western World will write about it, thus forcing British newspapers, under the yoke of our politicians, to grudgingly publish it. Hell, it might even get to the BBC. Remember, the debate is on the 18th of June!

How much harder would it then be for Parliament to issue the usual stock reply?

This, finally, brings me to the point of my article.

Which is not to promote the petition, but to show that getting a point across to your few thousand followers is an infinitesimally small grain of sand on the beach compared with the outside world. It’s not enough to sit on your backside punching computer or mobile phone keys!


Friday, 4 May 2018

Are Carphone Warehouse an honest reliable company to deal with

I am not going to say... if I did, I might lay myself open to being sued. So I am just going to tell you of my experiences.

First of all, I buy the top of the range mobile phone every year. In 2017 I thought I’d switch from Amazon to Carphone Warehouse. I received my Galaxy 8 Plus and had no reason to contact Carphone warehouse again that year as it never went wrong and I had no problems with it.

This year I purchased the Galaxy S9 Plus from them as they offered me circa £400  trade-in if it was in good condition. It was in perfect condition, not a scratch on it and no problems with it at all.

They told me over the phone to buy the new phone for the full price and they would send a bag for me to return the phone.

Great I thought.

So I purchased the phone, paid the full price, and waited for the bag to arrive to send my phone back.

And waited.

And waited.

No bag arrived.

I phoned up and they said there was a shortage of bags and mine would soon arrive. So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

No bag arrived.

My first tweet read:
@CPWTweets Nearly threexxx four weeks later with conversations with five different members of staff and Carphone Warehouse are still refusing to honour their trade-in promise.

So, up to now I have made seven phone calls and one tweet over four weeks.

They later said, go to this link to their website and fill in a form and the bag will go off almost immediately. Now nearly a month later I have given up.

I have now sold my Galaxy S8 Plus privately and lost about £170.000 through giving up on CarPhone Warehouse.

Naturally I will never use them again. And, I will tell everyone I know of my experiences with this company. I know a lot of people.

PS There is no copyright on this particular entry.

Choosing apps on Android

I have well over three hundred apps on my Samson Galaxy S9 Plus mobile phone and because of the knowledge I have gleaned over the years, have made some decisions on how I evaluate apps.


There are four main ways that app writers use when marketing their apps

    • Free - no adverts.
    • Free – adverts to help pay for the adverts.
    • Chargeable – one off price with no adverts
    • Chargeable – an ongoing monthly rental.

Free – No adverts
What can I say, one can’t complain. But very few app writers are philanthropists so apps in this section will usually be very simple but, having said that, many can be quite useful in saving time and effort.

Free – adverts to help pay for the app

Here we get apps written by two types of people. First are those who have small apps, usually quite intrusive, just waiting for you to decide their app is worth paying a little extra for. Then there are the whole screen, full in your face apps by app writers desperate to get you to move up to the paid version.

Chargeable – one off price with no adverts
These are usually companies or more experienced programmers, their apps are usually more advanced – but not always. Before taking the plunge, if you aren’t sure about anything, email the programmer – the address is at the bottom of the Google Play app page you are thinking of downloading from. Another help is to check how many have purchased the app, and read the reviews.

Chargeable – an ongoing monthly rental
Read the above “Chargeable – one off price with no adverts” with one addition. Take the monthly rental multiply it by 12 to get the price over a year, then supposing you may want to use the app for ten years, multiply the annual figure by ten. This will give you a better idea of the true price of the app. It's often frightening!


How easy is it to use your data if it is the sort of program you want moved?

    • Can you share it?
    • Can you send it to your printer?
    • Can you save it to Dropbox, Google Drive or Box?
    • Can you access it with web based software eg Google Keep

Backing up

If you can’t back up to Dropbox, Google Drive or Box do they have their own cloud service you can back up your data to in case you lose your phone?

Finally, using a file manager, can you access your data easily on your phone? If not, contact the writer and ask where the data is stored on your phone. He probably doesn’t need to know the make of your phone, just what version Android is on the phone.

Useful Apps

Free Apps

Google have many useful apps which are also web based. And many web writers take advantage of this.

"Google Calendar" for example. I use “Business Calendar” which synchronises perfectly with Google Calendar. So Google on my desktop and Business Calendar on my mobile. (Google Calendar is also available on a mobile but I find Business Calendar can do so much more and has an array of useful widgets.

An app I use every day is Alex Baker’s “Task: Astrid todo list clone”. This is for those regular chores you do every day, or every week, or every month or even every year. For example, my Panasonic shaver’s battery is well over five years old so I have an entry every Thursday to charge it, and on Sunday to clean and charge it. We send out a newsletter every year to friends and relations who live far away. I have a monthly reminder to bring it up to date with that month’s events. A reminder to put the wheely-bins out on the allotted day. You get the picture. You can have the tasks sent to your diary as well.

"Google Keep" is a ‘not very known’ gem. It is a note taker, you can colour code your notes if you wish. You can also pin important actions to the top. The best is you can add anything you want to send to your phone using a full size desktop on their web based program. It will be in your phone on the Google Keep app in seconds.

I have a series of widgets to turn on and off Wifi, Bluetooth, GPS and Airplane mode.

It is awkward going into Settings to send mobile calls to a switchboard so, when I get home, I use DHC app’s "Call Forwarding” a couple of clicks and it is done. When you get the app, just set it up with the phone numbers you are likely to forward your calls to. Free or paid for, very intrusive adverts but only a quid so I went for it.

"Accuweather Platinum". A paid for app as it gives more advance days by the hour than their free app. The good thing is, it helps you to understand the uncertainties of the weather. For example, look at the precipitations. 0% to 100%. If 51% or over, the app shows rain, however as you get to know the app you learn how to make your own decisions. Under 20% no rain, 21% to 80% it may or may not rain, but you learn to judge each percentage, over 80% and, yes, take an umbrella. Now I’ve learned how to read the app, I am right over 85% of the time.

I love “Progress of Project” which I use for bigger projects, such as my forthcoming China trip for two weeks. I also use it for projects in my home. However, it is quite difficult to get used to the way it works. Start a 'test project' which you can eventually delete and get to know it before you go for real. It also has a web based site so, whilst getting to know the way it works, it may be better to use your desktop.

For email, I use “Aquamail”. You can skip the adverts and buy, not expensive for the power it offers. If you use Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail and more, using IMAP, POP3 and Exchange, then you may find this useful. I love it and only wish they had a web based version. You can have many email accounts and colour code them. If you use G-Suite or equivalent, then you can use your aliases or identities as well. I have four email accounts and with my G-Suite account, I have six more aliases, totaling ten in all. There is a smart button that collects them all and as you read then, they disappear from the smart button, but if you reply using the smart button, the reply will use the correct 'from' address. You can have a separate signature for each email address and identity/alias.

Finally I use “Signal Messaging”. This is a cross between your SMS program and a WhatsApp communications app. Unlike WhatsApp, it is opensource and experts around the world study the code of each new release, so if the NSA or MI5 insist on a backdoor in it, over a thousand hackers will tell you its happened. If WhatsApp gets a government backdoor put in, you’ll never know. In addition it takes the place of two apps. When you load it, it is just an SMS program. If you want secret conversations with other users, just send them a link – it is at the top of your messaging page and you can send it clicking on one button – it’s that easy. Then once you’re both on, you have secure secret conversations. Handy if you are married and have a couple of mistresses!

There’s a few to be going on with!


My apologies, I have been tied up for a while so blogs not very forthcoming

By I am back now, just waiting for my darling wife to proofread them - most of you already know English is my third language after Afrikaans and Zulu.

I am @AmpersUK on Twitter. No longer on Facebook, and ampers on GAB which I am keeping for when Twitter kick me off for being too honest. If you want my email, send me a message in the box on the left and I promise I'll reply to you.

Thats all for now but I'll leave you with a lovely little joke I picked up some time ago. Forgive me if you've heard it!


One dark night at Christmas time at small town in Minnesota, a fire started inside the local chemical plant and in a blink of an eye it exploded into massive flames. The alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around.

When the volunteer fire fighters appeared on the scene, the chemical company president rushed to the fire chief and said, "All our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved. I will give $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out intact.
But the roaring flames held the firefighters off.
Soon more fire departments had to be called in as the situation became desperate. As the firemen arrived, the president shouted out that the offer was now $100,000 to the fire department who could bring out the company's secret files.

From the distance, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight. It was the nearby Norwegian rural township volunteer fire company composed mainly of Norwegians over the age of 65. To everyone's amazement, that little run-down fire engine roared right past all the newer sleek engines that were parked outside the plant.

Without even slowing down it drove straight into the middle of the inferno. Outside, the other firemen watched as the Norwegian old timers jumped off right in the middle of the fire fought it back on all sides.  It was a performance and effort never seen before.

Within a short time, the Norske old timers had extinguished the fire and had saved the secret formulas. The grateful chemical company president announced that for such a superhuman feat he was upping the reward to $200,000, and walked over to personally thank each of the brave fire fighters.
The local TV news reporter rushed in to capture the event on film, asking their chief, "What are you going to do with all that money?

"Vell," said Ole Larsen, the 70-year-old fire chief, "Da first thing ve gonna do is fix da brakes on dat fokking truck!