In which I find notebooks for PhP 15

Reading up on Creative Confidence

Last month I became very busy juggling a couple of books on product, design, and UX at the same time. Recently, I was reminded to take notes of the books I read, which is something I did enjoy back in college. Since most of my books are e-books these days, I bought notebooks on the way home from work:

Processed with VSCOcam with m3 preset

They are absolutely not bad for PhP 15 — despite the glaring logo in front. I haven’t been to National Bookstore in a while that while browsing through stuff I realized, “Holy fudge, pens are expensive!” And I meant the normal ball-point ones, which were PhP 25+; I had to settle for the Bic ones at PhP 10, because it matters that I have enough money for the cab, haha.

I now have a few pages written on and as convenient it is to have everything on your phone or tablet these days, it’s still a good exercise for my memory to jot things I’ve learned and want to remember. I mean, it’s still a pretty good feeling to flip through paper and re-read things instead of opening apps or searching from e-books. Actually, this gives me an idea for an e-reader app…

Anyway, I should be sharing some of my notes / take-aways from the books I’ve been reading soon!

DFA Megamall Service Design Suggestions

Banking, transferring or withdrawing money, government agencies such as visa’s, passports, driver’s licenses, among other things are all examples of ‘services’. The experiences we have from these services, whether we’re happy after a transaction or not, is an effect of how much ‘design’ is part of the process. Sometimes it may be designed well, often times not at all. Rosenfeld media has a book about Service Design if you want to read more.

Last Tuesday, I went to the DFA in SM Megamall to get my passport renewed. My first impression of the place was: this place had some design thinking involved! The layout of the room was designed to accommodate each step one by one (and in a logical order. I wasn’t going around in circles; I entered through one door and walked from step to step and exited through another). It didn’t feel like they just got a huge floor and set up tables and counters for the process; it seemed like each section was put there purposely because it sped up the process. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a good start compared to other government offices. There were just a few things about the design of the experience (or place) that I would recommend optimizing or tweaking a bit.

Problem 1: Confusing Step 1

I noticed that most customers feel confused about the “Verification” process (which is step 1). Some stand idly or are able to get a waiting number first before going to the Verification counter (there was no line to follow at that time so the step wasn’t obvious). Later on, the steps are easier to identify and the flow becomes smoother. It doesn’t help that Verification counter is at your right after entering and what’s in front is the ticket machine (so it seems like I should get a number first).  I’m guessing the entrance is at the left door because the right door is a bit hidden from the staircase going up the office, or that the “U” line starts at the left-side of the door.

Solution

A better placement for the Step 1 sign (something clearer or more eye-catching). Another quick solution would be to move the entrance to the right side door instead of the left, so that you are forced to pass by Verification first, before getting a waiting ticket/number (although I can’t verify if this has any repercussions on the waiting line on other days or hours, since I was there on a weekday morning. But this is a placement that makes the Verification counter more obvious from inside).

 

Problem 2: Too many numbers on the screen

After submitting your papers (Step 2) and paying (Step 3), I went straight to the Encoding Room, which is another spacious room with rows of chairs for waiting. Basically, this is where they’ll take your photo, get your digital finger prints and will ask you to confirm that you have correct information.

Before you get called to complete Step 4 though, you will have to wait for your number (the one you got after Verification, the same one from Step 2) to flash on the TV screen. This is where the confusion happens though, because the screen looks something like this:

_20140321_191701

There are a whole bunch of tinier numbers on the lower left, and a few rows of larger numbers on the right. The left side is listed with ticket numbers in red (which seems to be the counter number), and at the same time, the ticket numbers on the right side are also assigned counter numbers (in white).

For the 30+ mins that I was sitting there, at least two people asked me what to do or which numbers to look at. At first, I was feeling confident that I was waiting for my number to show up on the right side of the screen. In my mind, I thought I could vaguely recognize the people ahead of my number and it seemed like they matched the tickets being currently served. But then, one of the people who asked me pointed out that the smaller numbers on the lower left were also updating (and they were showing my number as well as other numbers, while the right side only showed numbers that were before mine). This made me doubt myself. Did I make the mistake of waiting for the wrong side of the screen to update? Did I miss my chance?

I started to get nervous, but I reassured the stranger that it’s the right side that was updating and is the one we’re supposed to watch for. I wasn’t as confident as I first was though, but soon enough I proved to be right. But not without some nervousness!

Solution

They should show only the numbers/counters in the Encoding Room. The lower left numbers showed all the counters (even when they weren’t being manned by a person, or even from the other room which is unnecessary information for the waiting customers in the Encoding Room). I could only guess that it’s an automated system that’s updating the lower left of the screen, while the bigger numbers are updated manually by whoever is behind the counter.

 

Problem 3: Encoding Room Counter Number Placement  

Another problem is the placement of the numbers on the dividers of the counters in the Encoding Room (Step 4). I decided to sit on the left side of the room where the numbers on the dividers of the counters are visible, but the room was wide enough that half its occupants wouldn’t be so lucky. I observed a lady whose number flashed on screen and she had to walk from the right side of the room to find which counter corresponded to her ticket, before she hurried towards the counter on the middle of the room.

IMG_20140321_191623

Solution

This is the easiest to solve: both sides of the dividers should have numbers.

 

Final Thoughts

The problems and suggestions I shared on this post didn’t really cover the whole process (from booking an appointment online to doing the steps at the office). I only talked about the experience inside DFA Megamall. Maybe next time I’ll review it from start to finish, but I just had those doodles sitting on a draft for too long that I wanted to write and publish this before I get too lazy to. Here’s a quick list of my experience from the online process:

  • When I first booked an appointment, I did so before I traveled to HK. I haven’t renewed a passport before (the one I got five years ago was my first), and I didn’t know if I could or couldn’t use my old passport once I applied for a renewal. I had to google before my flight to see what they do exactly, because it wasn’t clear from the website. They had warnings at the door at the DFA office that they’re not liable if flights are affected because of passport processing time.  They never explain what happens to your old passport though.
  • You can cancel an appointment online 5 days or more before your scheduled appointment. I was canceling at the last minute so I was rejected by the system. However, booking a new appointment automatically cancels your old appointment. So I did that instead. This negates the 5-day minimum requirement.
  • They are wasting paper by making us print the first page (has the schedule and checklist) and last page (fine print) of the PDF file sent after booking. At the verification counter, they are taken off and, I assume, later thrown away.

The whole process was faster compared to some offices (I was there two hours only because I went too early, at around 10am, but I was scheduled for 11am so they didn’t let me in until 45 mins later). There was a line at 10am but when I went in again after 10.30am, it has more or less disappeared. Despite the few confusing aspects of the service, it was still orderly and whatever confusion customers had, most people finished the process without much trouble (based on my observations on how many people ask questions or walk around confused).

It’s been five years since I visited the main DFA office and this was a better experience for me. I’ve seen more malls opening DFA offices and it seems like a better idea to go to these offices rather than the main office. Getting my driver’s license in…Cainta, (or Marikina; I can’t remember) was slower and grimier compared to the cleaner License Renewal office in Megamall. In my experience though, not all government services in malls are equal in efficiency. For example, my NBI Clearance experience at Robison’s Galleria was much, much better than the one in Robinson’s Metro East. It’s still best to ask around which mall or place would have the most efficient service, unless you have no choice but to go to the main government office.

Attending UXHK on a Budget

I recently attended UXHK as an independent designer (i.e. not sponsored by a company). It’s not as easy to plan and budget conferences if you’re doing freelance, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Granted, most of the people I’ve met were from companies who are investing in UX, but some of them have come independently (or started off that way, until they managed to convince their bosses that investing in UX is worth it).

Hong Kong is expensive. Lodgings are quite pricey compared to other Asian countries I’ve been to, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t more affordable options. Sure, I can’t afford hotels charging USD $100++ per night, and PhP 16k for round-trip tickets is no joke, but if you can plan ahead and book sales and promos, it wouldn’t be so bad.

Planning ahead is best, so check out the conferences you plan on attending and subscribe to the mailing lists to know as soon as early bird tickets are up. Don’t worry about the flight and lodgings yet, because early bird discounts are great and you will need it if you want to save some money. Buy the event/conference tickets first, and then hound one of the budget airlines or check every time they have a sale. I’m subscribed to Cebu Pacific’s mailing list and it’s enough to book some discounted tickets even if they’re not always from Piso Sales (any discount is great help).

Hostels are a good start for cheaper lodgings. When you’re a female traveling solo though, things can get a bit trickier. I wasn’t that comfortable taking the dorms, but it’s a cheaper option. Instead, I had a single room from a hostel and for 5 days, the price isn’t bad. It’s easier if you’re traveling with a group of friends, but sometimes your friends aren’t available to accompany you abroad just because you want to go to a conference. I checked Airbnb, but when I did my computations, as a solo traveler the hostel still gave me more savings.

Here’s a quick list of how much I needed (prices rounded up):

  • UXHK Early Bird Tickets – HKD 2950 or PhP 17,000 (3 days)
  • Cebu Pacific Tickets (round-trip), promo – PhP 6,400
  • Dragon Hostel Hong Kong – PhP 7,320 (5 days)

Miscellaneous 

  • Travel tax (Manila) and Airport Fee (NAIA) – around PhP 2,500 (can’t remember exact price)
  • Transportation around HK (mostly by train) – PhP 2,600 or around HKD 450 (5 days)
  • Food budget (HKD 50/meal) – PhP 3,000 or around HKD 500

I didn’t add in shopping money in there, but for the important stuff for the trip I spent PhP 40,000 / USD 900 / HKD 7,000 (conference tickets, plane, lodgings, transportation, food). Cheaper if you want to book only for exactly the conference dates, but I didn’t want to be rushing so I included a day before and after making it a grand total of 5 days. You can spend less if you don’t take the Airport Express train (around HKD 100), but you have to make sure you have enough time going to and from the airport if you want to take the bus (around HKD 33). You can also check for promos on the Airport Express train if you’re traveling with other people (tickets for a group of 2 would only cost HKD 80, for example).

There were snacks served during the three conference+workshop days so I didn’t have to spend much on my meals (I definitely spent less than the budget I listed for food above). HKD 50/meal is already a mid-range budget (includes drinks), so you can also spend less if you prefer.

My hostel was at Argyle Street in Mong Kok, two blocks away from the station so it’s very near. I added more to that budget for some shopping, but it’s totally unnecessary to make the trip :) There are definitely a couple of areas you can visit for free, and I had little adventures on my own even as I was having money troubles during the trip so it was still a memorable experience.

Was it worth that much money? 

I really feel that what makes the conference worth it are the people you meet. Sure, some of the workshops or speakers’ topics can be found online (and if you looked at the right places, you could just take online courses or get subscriptions, listen to podcasts, etc), but it doesn’t have the insights that those giving workshops would share. Or the stories that come from various backgrounds and different contexts that attendees share with each other. Or the new friends that you may make, along with possible professional opportunities from networking with professionals in the field.

Would I attend the next UXHK? 

I would like to check the list of speakers, but I’m already 80% affirmative.

the little things I learned today about Android/Cordova/PhoneGap

For work, I had to help test a cordova iOS app and port it for Android. For some reason, the usual deviceready code wasn’t working:

if (navigator.userAgent.match(/(iPhone|iPod|iPad|Android|BlackBerry)/)) { 
     // is on PhoneGap
     $(function() {
        document.addEventListener("deviceready", deviceIsReady, false);
     });
} else {
     // not on PhoneGap
}

Instead, this worked:

if ( window.device ) {
      document.addEventListener("deviceready", deviceIsReady, false);
}
// not on PhoneGap
else {
     // what else
}

The other thing: I have no idea how to take screenshots on Android devices. To be honest, I still have no idea how to do it on my Nexus 7. Even less idea on how to do it on Android 3.0. Google search lead me to this and I still don’t understand why it has to be so hard (or confusing).

From an iPad to an Android tablet

It was pay-day last week (MONEY!!!!!) so I bought myself a mid-to-low range tablet (not that much money!!!): a Cherry Mobile Bolt (rebranded from Ainol Novo 7). I was thinking if I should get the 2nd generation Nexus 7, but I’m actually waiting for the new iPad Mini to be my main tablet so I decided to get a cheap one I can root and play with. I saw some reviews online, and the CM Bolt seemed to fit my budget for a test device (below 5k, specs not so bad, and the OS is barely skinned/themed). I already have the larger iPad, which was why I got the 7-inch one.

Spec list for the curious:

  • OS: Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • CPU: ATM Quad Core CPU 1.2GHz
  • GPU: GC1000+
  • RAM: 1GB?DDR3
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Shell Material: Plastic
  • Screen: Capacitive Touchscreen, 1280*800 High-resolution Screen
  • Size: 7 inch
  • Resolution: 1280*800 Pixels IPS Screen G+G
  • Gravity Sensor: Yes
  • Visible Angle: 178°
  • Display: IPS
  • Dual Camera Front camera, 0.3 Megapixels

(Things to note: no bluetooth, GPS, 3G/sim slot.)

As a designer for various platforms (with Android projects coming in as well), it felt important to have more experience with other OS and not just iOS (though hey, I’m not complaining). I’ve recently switched back to the iPhone after a few months with the Windows Phone 8 (the novelty of ‘something different’ wore off, and with iOS 7, its good to be back), and now its time to try Android more regularly.

First Impressions

Charlie was with me when I bought it and he was really skeptical. I don’t blame him. We’re both on iOS devices (he had an HTC once, which slowed down a bit too soon) so we’re kind-of spoiled by speed, smoothness, design (hello iOS7!!!!) and general user experience goodness of the OS.

But I really needed to interact more with Android stuff for work.

Cherry Mobile isn’t exactly there when it comes to visual design and branding (at the very least they have a simpler logo than MyPhone!) so once you get past the default, ugly, pixelized wallpapers, it starts looking acceptable:

Not bad, eh? Got the wallpaper from Pattrn

(Thank you, Pattrn)

I used it all day on Sunday and at first it was quite buggy. I wasn’t so sure if it was broken, or if it was a prime example of low-end tech. The keyboard would double-press keys, and sometimes touch would do the same (touch huge areas on the screen even when I’m not actually pressing on the other areas). I did a factory reset twice, and somehow it stopped being weird on a normal basis (it still happens but only when I try to multitask between apps, or send a number of attachments over email). So I’m just going to assume its not because its broken, but maybe because the specs are quite low. I notice this happened more often when quite a few apps that need internet connection are all on (messaging, fb, tw, email, etc).

Simplenote

The way the resolution renders apps and sites is a bit annoying because even if the tablet is a smaller size, it shows a desktop view (or 10-inch tablet size) so most things are too small to be comfy. Had to go to Accessibility options and change the overall font size Large to make it readable.

It heats up a bit too fast and the wifi range is pretty weak (the wifi nearly ends at the edge of my bed at home, which is maybe 10 meters away from the router, hahaha), but IS only PhP 4.5k (from Cherry Mobile in Robinons Galleria even if other bloggers have gotten it for just 4k)!!!! I’m more surprised it works this well given the price point.

Since I have an iPad 3, I compared the experience of having a larger tablet, and for me pocket-size is easier to use. It feels easier and more natural to bring around for reading, browsing, reading emails, social networks, and the like. Landscape typing is harder on the smaller tablet though — it feels like I’m meant to type with my thumbs on it, the same way that thumb-typing feels awkward when holding up a big and heavy iPad. Being a cheaper tablet though, typing isn’t very smooth on the Bolt so autocorrect always saves the day :P

Android Tablet App Market

I downloaded and re-downloaded a bunch of apps and the first thing I noticed is the lack of tablet-optimized apps in the Play Store. Even Path seemed to be for the phone-only. It’s been a while since more Android tablets have come up though. Maybe Google needs to be a bit more aggressive with encouraging Android app teams. One of my main objectives in getting this Android tablet was to study the UI design, and very few stand out. I even ended up spoiling myself over Downton Abbey in my search for good tablet apps (because I haven’t watched the Christmas special and CLIFFHANGER spoiled it for me when I wondered if Season 4 was on).

Yeah, good job curious self!
“WTF MATTHEW IS DEAD!? THEY SPENT 3 SEASONS TO GET HIM TOGETHER WITH MARY AND THEN HE JUST DIES?????” — spoiled — Yeah, good job curious self!

My only complaint at this point: the Amazon Kindle app keeps crashing when I load it so I can’t load my Amazon e-books. Uploaded some books to Google Play (Books) instead (which weirdly enough you can only do online and not via the app) and it was pretty alright (page-turning smooth enough, given the specs. I’d want better reading fonts though, but it’s not so bad). I also started trying out Google+ again, but I need to figure out a way to cross-post the status messages to Facebook or else I’m talking to a mostly silent audience. The App market is definitely better than Windows though so, hahahaha. Given that Android’s tablet apps already felt lacking, I can imagine how populated the Windows tablet app market is.

I’ll share my list of apps in a future post.

I’ll be on Day 3 of testing the Bolt today (in which at the end of the week, if I don’t need to get the unit replaced, I’ll update the firmware). I left my iPad at work yesterday so I’ll be forced to rely on the Android tablet and aside from the annoying keyboard lag and touch inconsistencies, its pretty OK (I’m writing the draft for this post on the Android as we speak). I even managed to do some responsive web design work (!!!) via Adobe Edge Inspect. It was not as smooth as Safari/iOS (but that’s Android browsers for you).

wooo yeah, that worked
wooo yeah, that worked

Here’s a recap of the pro’s and con’s

 Pros:

  • cheap (PhP 4.5k is cheap enough)
  • not much skin/bloatware
  • I can update the firmware to speed it up
  • I can root it and play with it and if it gets broken, I’d only have lost PhP 4.5k
  • 7″ is a good size

Cons:

  • heats up quickly
  • battery lasts maybe 4-5 hours in full-use
  • wifi range is weak
  • no bluetooth (I didn’t really initially think I’d want it, LOL)
  • heavy for the size, but not for its price

Set expectations to a low/mid-range Android device and the lag/slowness will be ‘OK’.

I have a lot to say about the Android user experience compared to iOS, but nothing other people haven’t already noticed and proven. Will write more in the next few days!

things are catching up

I’ve been holding out and/or waiting for projects since I quit working full-time for Save22 in July (I also no longer work freelance for them due to an onslaught of work), and finally everything caught up with me.

1. I found part-time work (still daily) at Eastwood, where I’m learning to make Phonegap stuff for Android, and Android/Mac problems are pretty weird sometimes. Like, for some reason I couldn’t detect the tablet from my Mac when I run the android app unless I check/uncheck the Developer and Application settings. It is still buggy sometimes, and I have no idea what causes things.

That and the last time I used an Android tablet was 2 years ago, when I still worked with Chikka, and we were doing this HTML5-JS/CSS-animation app thing.

(Since I have an iPad, I think Android tablets feel so weird to use, haha).

I’m thinking of buying myself a Nexus tablet for some new projects so I could practice, aside from maybe I might also have to buy an Android phone as well for this other project I’m going to do (web) UX for.

2. I’m still doing some UX-related freelancing with interesting groups, though schedules for these projects are less predictable than my part-time work. They are challenging work though, and most of the time I’m not really sure if I’m doing UX work properly (since coming from Save22, the extent of UX we do isn’t very structured and is more informal than anything).

3. I really hope all my work/projects sort-of stabilizes in a way that my schedule can eventually become predictable, but so far I’m trying to adjust as well as I can, I think.

4. My dates with Charlie nowadays mean playing Guild Wars 2 together, haha. :P

Intro on Task-oriented Information Architecture

I’ve been looking for some online articles to read up on task-oriented IA for a project, and haven’t found many.

The first blog post I saw, and that have been linked by others, was Michael Andrew’s short introspective entry about it. Here he says:

When experimenting with task-oriented IA, here are some issues to keep in mind:

  • Activity structure. Are tasks batched around a group of items, or around a sequence of events? Interestingly, the same mix of objects and processes may be done in different ways, depending on who is doing the work, and what the context is. How a customer representative processes a form will be different depending if the customer dropped in his local branch to deliver it, or whether it was mailed in and is sitting on a stack with other people’s forms.
  • Inputs. How is information received and entered? Does it come in a clump, or in dribbles? Are inputs calendar-driven, so you can predict when you will receive them, or can they arrive at any time?
  • Time dimension. Are tasks done in parallel on the same timeline, or do they go on divergent timelines? Are sequences of activities fixed or flexible? Sometimes activities start at the same time, and get processes concurrently, though the services themselves involve different durations.

Some other interesting reads:

Task-Oriented and Modular Design: The solution to improving the quality and efficiency of documentation

Task Analysis: Topic-Based Writing in DITA

One day with a Nokia 520

JJ saw me using my phone and said, “Do you have the same phone as Charlie?”

YES. YES I DO NOW. Because I mentioned it to my mom, and told her how my iPhone 4S is broken (and the people said they can’t fix the wifi), and that this Lumia 520 is only P7k.

So she lent me money and I got one at Greenhills. Cheapest I found was P6.8k, but they only had the black one. Charlie got his for P7k, but he didn’t come with me so we didn’t know where exactly he bought his. This one was P7.4k, the cheapest I was able to find (only a few hundred bucks less than the standard retail price).

I’ve been using it since Sunday evening so a little over one day. I downloaded a bunch of apps already, some of which I already collected into a list days ago. I also figured out how to install apps from an SD card (not that I’ve made the most out of it because I only have an old SD card which is 2GB large, hahaha. That sounds pretty sad).

Some initial thoughts:

  1. I really like the Metro UI for the phone.
  2. For some reason, I’m not as constantly connected to 3G or wi-fi as I was on the iPhone. I’m not sure if this is a common problem, or just that this is actually a cheaper phone. I have an unlimited-data plan which means my free SMS and calls are limited so I wanted to make the most out of free messaging apps, but there were a bunch of problems with those. I will expound on it later.
  3. The camera is really not so bad, for this price range.
  4. The battery seems to heat up a little too quickly, but I don’t think it’s bothersome. I just don’t know if it’s natural/expected.
  5. The Facebook integration is sometimes freaky. Like, it would be awesome if I could choose which groups I could connect with my phone because I don’t really need everyone’s names in there. It’s just really convenient so that I get photos on my contact list, haha.
  6. There is a fairly good range of apps. Some of them don’t work as smoothly as iOS or Android apps, perhaps, but I think that maybe development on a WP for companies who cater to all platforms might not be that high on the priority list given the market share.

That said, the 520 is a really good phone for that kind of value.

I actually enjoyed looking for some good apps to use and here’s a list of the ones I ended up keeping:

Viber, LINE, and Talk.to

Viber and LINE were pretty much staples: Viber is the only way I can message my mom and brother for free, since they’re both on iPhones. It’s also pretty popular with most people. I kept LINE for a Japanese friend I occasionally messaged there, and because Charlie and I used to chat there before he got an iPad mini.

My experience with these apps on a Windows Phone 8 was pretty bad though. LINE doesn’t have calls (yet) and both of them have a horrible delay time when it comes to sending a message when the apps aren’t active or in use. When Charlie and I exchange messages consistently, it works as advertised. But when the phones are on stand-by, for some reason either the phone becomes disconnected to the Wi-fi or 3G, or the app stops working on the background. What happens is: notifications come in VERY late (usually during the time I use the phone again) so they’re pretty much useless if say, someone sends me a message out of the blue using these apps. I probably won’t see the message at the same time it’s sent.

Talk.to is new: I’m not aware of an iOS version. But since the default Facebook app doesn’t notify me when I get FB messages, I use this for FB messaging (and Google Talk if I had friends who used that). So far it’s pretty good and more responsive than LINE and Viber. Charlie and I will try switching to this for now, until the other apps become smoother.

I haven’t really tried the other free messaging apps like KiK messenger,  but I might try it within the week.

Battery

Because I don’t get to see the percentage of battery left by default on the hidden header, I needed this to see it as a tile. It came with other short-cuts such as Wi-fi and 3G connections, and it looked nicer than the other similar apps.

Chinese Dictionary

Simple and had better features than the others.

Dictionary

Kindle

I haven’t found another ebook reader for my non-Amazon ebooks, but the WP Kindle app seems to be okay.

Weave

As a reader, I really like it. Plus, you get to find RSS feeds from within the app (like Pulse). And there’s a free version.

Pouch

The only app I bought so far, because there is no official Pocket app. There are other options, but from the screenshots this seemed nice. A little buggy, but not a deal breaker.

Fotor

For photo filters. The design is simple and the app is pretty easy to use. The filters are pretty okay, and not as bad as the other photo apps.

LiveJournal

On the iPhone, Path is my go-to app where I write some private thoughts that I share with limited friends. Since there’s no Path for WP8, I ended up going back to LJ for my deepest, darkest secrets (lol). This is the official app which is in Russian by default (good thing someone posted instructions on the comments to switch to English), but the UI to post a new entry is shit. I don’t have a choice though, apart from using the mobile-web version of the site.

Mixtapes

A music streaming app. I really, really like this though I haven’t used the app that long yet.

Evernote

I couldn’t log in to my Simplenote-app account the other day so I couldn’t use Feather Notes. But then again, I have some notes I store in Evernote so this is still useful to have.

Unit Converter, World Clock, Translator, Google Search, Counters

Useful apps that don’t come by default.

A List of Windows Phone Apps I Could Use

Ever since Charlie bought his Lumia 520, I’ve been justifying to myself why I wouldn’t mind switching to a W8 Phone. It’s like selling an idea to yourself, hahahaha. So I helped him (or myself) find a list of pretty Windows 8 apps that could be useful and/or fun to have: 

First the official apps I didn’t realise were in the store: 

And then some: 

Simply Weather

I think I have something like this on my iPhone (if not the iOS version of the same app). I couldn’t figure out how to change location/unit though.

Pic Stitch

I linked this to Charlie because he uses a pic-stitching app on his iPad. I have Instaframes on my iPhone but I’ve never used it. This isn’t free though. 

Photoplay

I thought this one was really pretty and simple, though the first time I tried it on Charlie’s Lumia520, it seemed a bit buggy. Lovely colors though and even if there are only a few filters, they’re enough and pretty similar to Instagram.

Weave

RSS reader! :D Since there’s no official Pulse app, this is a good alternative.

Pouch

Pocket client.

7 Minute Workout

This is just something Charlie got but hey, it looks quite pretty. :) 

Waze

Not yet available in the PH store :( But I’ll maybe wait for it. 

Lumia 520

I want to get a Windows 8 Phone. I really do. Charlie just bought the cheap Lumia 520 (it cost 7k in Greenhills) and it’s really cute (the plastic looks better than Samsung’s stupid silver borders on the S4).

I used the phone for a bit and decided that like the Windows UI more than Android’s (Windows has been creative this way. I don’t really like the Windows 8 Desktop because they only “skinned” it, but their UI works on the mobile phones). It’s not a bad phone, I thought. It’s a phone that I would have loved to use, I thought. (If it were my pre-iPhone phone, I thought.)

The Lumia 520 is cheap but pretty, and it looks like I’d get my money’s worth (compared to the more expensive Lumia phones, which doesn’t make sense because I could spend just as much money for a Nexus 4, which probably has better specs). Plus that yellow and other bright colors. Really lovely.

I have some money to spare. My iPhone 4S has a broken wifi and bluetooth, after all, so I can’t even use it for a hotspot. I’m not looking for a phone with good camera capabilities because I just got a Lumix LX7, which was ideally the compact camera I bring with me all the time. I looked at my screen wondering if I really need my iOS apps. Since my phone’s wifi broke, I stopped using my phone for anything other than browser testing, texting, calling, and social networking.

There were already some apps that I could migrate to, should I get a Lumia temporarily until the next iPhone (and big paycheck, haha):

  • Feather Notes – for Simplenote, since I use Notational Velocity on my mac
  • DotDot – for App.net (not that I’m active there, but still)
  • Blueprints – for Tumblr
  • the default Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare apps that come with the Windows 8 phones.
  • Fiction Book Reader – for ebooks

There was one app that was missing, and I really wanted though: Path. There was no alternative on the Windows App market that I could find. I’m always on Path and without an alternative to it, I don’t see myself switching. Do I need Path? No. But I want it. I really, really want it.

My iPhone isn’t really that broken yet. So I don’t really need a new phone right now. I kind-of want to get the Lumia 520, but eh, no Path, so I’m not sure yet. I think Path is that one app Windows should maybe be paying their $100,000 to. :)