Wednesday, October 09, 2013

MoBill Android App Review

This app has great graphics!  I really like the interface, choice of button shapes, colors, etc.  A lot of thought went into the designing of the GUI portion of the software. I give this part of the program Five Stars.

Another excellent feature of this app is that it has a real embedded help menu. Most apps with a help button simply link it to a function that opens a web browser, opening the developer's home page. It's nice to have an embedded help list, so I really like this feature. Five Stars.

Embedded Calculator Feature, Available As Stand-Alone Function or Available in Sub Menus: Five Stars! (I can't speak highly enough about this one. Some apps link to an on-device, secondary calculator, which is cumbersome in a financial app where numerical calculation is desired at the record-creation entry point. The addition of an embedded calculator like this one fills this gap beautifully!)

The last thing I will review is the way in which the developer has chosen to add additional functionality to the app: AdFree. This doesn't work for me in many ways, either from a practical viewpoint or a philosophical one.

The Practical: Having to register with an ad service provider for extra functions is cumbersome. Mosts developers simply don't require this. Also, this particular app has the ad glaring at you at the very top of the app when it launches, drawing your attention, nay, "sucking you into" the advertisement at warp speed!

Some of the ads displayed have button-like, shaped graphics which are easily confused with app function buttons. I found this de-enhancing to proper app navigation, making the app somewhat unintuitive to someone new to the app.

The Philosophical:  This is more of a pet peeve of mine than anything else. I simply do not like advertising in phone applications like this one.

This a budgeting app, designed to help one keep tabs on their expenses.  It's not a game or a social app where advertisements might be expected.

Also, and this is the most glaring flaw as I see it: To enable advanced features, one has to register with a third party ad-provider, AdFree.

I don't agree with this kind of application development. Android is rife with advertisers, and others, that want people to believe that profit can't be made without a glaring, flashing banner adorning the various pages of phone apps.

I also don't buy into the "App Subscription Model" for an application whose primary purpose should not require it. A registration fee for additional dev support and feature enabling is fine. This is how most devs float, and makes sense, practically and philosophically.

However, combining both with as heavy a dependency on an ad service like AdFree, does not.

App Ad Factors: One Star

Final Total: Four Stars

Summary and Suggestions:  Get rid of AdFree! Re-write the code to more uniform standards of marketing, such as the "free app with advertising and limited features/paid app with all features and no advertising" model.

Also, ditch the ad-subscription marketing model. It's outdated and annoying as hell! Most users aren't going to pay a yearly subscription unless you're a magazine publisher offering original content or some type of professional service.

Keep the excellent graphics! This dev has an obvious talent for GUI design that captures the user. It caused me to download it and give it a try, merely from looking at at the app icon in the Play Store.

Thank you for the opportunity to review this app. I appreciate and pay for excellent quality software. I believe that the suggestions made in my review can, and will, help this app to become a winner in the market.

Best of Success,

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Response to DEVILS_ADVOCATE at New York Daily News Comments Section:

Heh!  Sometimes one needs a few "devils" to help keep one honest.  Thanks.  I appreciate the element.

I've read and re-read your reply, and you bring up some very salient points.

Perhaps I was a bit gruff.  It's just that I grow so tired of the "same ol' same ol'" when it comes to what I shall term "conservative religious ethics," which, by their implementation, tend to "hold back" people to the point of becoming stagnant.  Especially those that become so immersed in a religion that they are no longer capable of rational, coherent thought, and, in the worst cases, refuse to, or are no longer capable (the ultra-worst?) of "Thinking Critically."  (This means that we accept reality for what it is, don't make any bones about it, and deal with it intelligently and effectively.  That's my definition, at any rate.)

I grew up Episcopalian.  It was fun and interesting when I was young.  I stopped "going to church" when I started using the pew as a second bed.  Zzzzzzz.  Not really, but that was the effect.  My mind was starting to go numb from the constancy.  No change.  No Difference.  Nothing New Here.  Move Along.  Move Along.  Etc.

I stopped going when I turned sixteen or so.  Probably the result of all that hot tea in the undercroft (basement kitchen/after-church snack area), introduced to me by the genteel old ladies of the church.  Well, as much as a Northern-Lower Michigan grandmarm can possibly be "genteel."  I am definitely not from The Deep South.

Getting on with this:  I realize not everyone will agree with my view on this subject.  Also, I can not advise from a Master's Level, only from a layman's perspective.  So I shall endeavor to be a bit more selective and less cutting in my vocal patterns, and also try to be a bit more...Ahem!...Ed-U-Ma-Ca-Ted! ;-)

I don't hate religion.  I have engaged in a smattering of religious paths from time to time throughout my life.  Everything from the aforementioned Episcopal church of my formative years, to USA-bred-and-induced "born again" Christian fund(y)mentalism (I was a "holy terror" to my friends in those years, and I'm lucky I still have most of them after that debacle in my young-adulthood, primarily my late teens and early twenties!)

I've also appreciated and participated in various of the "neo pagan" revivalist religious faiths, especially modern Wicca/Witchcraft, which I still respect, greatly, although I am not active in any type of specific activities, anymore.  I've found my own path based on very personal, internally-modulated experiences.

Call them mentally-/emotionally-/dreamtime-/subconsciously-contructed-/non-physically-/ImmersiveRealityInformedByPureThought-based, call-it-what-you-will.  These experiences, coupled with an out-of-body motif of expanded consciousness that has to be experienced-to-be-understood (words can not convey the, Ahem!  "Inherent Meaning"), and I find most, if not all, religion, "merely folly" at this point.

I'm simply growing tired of everyone "being so concerned for the Afterlife," that they forget the Life In Front of Them!  Also, isn't this a major problem, everywhere, in every place on Earth?  People not really believing that the Now Is Where They Should Be Because They Are?  If we can't change the past, and the future isn't here yet, then what do we have?  Seriously!

Relative to the one issue you brought forth:  I have an issue with the aspect of "tolerating the intolerable," as it's a dichotomy for me.  I mean, yes, it exists.  Intolerance, that is.  To be "intolerant of intolerance," has the aspect of "shooting one's self in one's own foot," I suppose; ie, "Not Much Progress Can Be Made Here At All" type of thing.  I trust that's to what you're referring?

I mean, the aspect of, say, "trying to kill intolerance" is the same as "trying to hunt down Love."  The emotive states are inherent ones, and can't be "captured, destroyed, folded, spindled, or mutilated."  (Unlike the iconic "IBM Card" of computatational ages past.)

Well, I hope this is, at least, a better response.  I'm not a scholar, nor do I play one on TeeVee. ;-)  I wish to Love Everyone, althought this task is daunting, and I'm Still Learning.  However, on that case, are not we all?

Here's to Learning To Love Everyone.

The One With A Condo On The Outskirts Of Purgatory,

P.S.  Not All Intolerance Is Tolerable
P.P.S.  Not All Tolerance Is Tolerable
R.S.V.P.  Can You Tolerate It?! ;->

Friday, March 15, 2013

FLASH! UFO's Scared Off By Welsh Rarebit-On-The-Hoof! Nephilim Flee Planet In Fear! Film At Eleven!

Review - Netflix Watch Instantly Movies - "A UFO Conspiracy"

This documentary is part "UFO Phenomenon Recap" and "UFO's-as-demonology," the latter of which really takes away from the first 75% of the film, which was really quite good.

I've watched other such documentaries before, and I've found all of them interesting.  Who wouldn't, given the subject matter.  However, this one left me wanting at the end, and sorely disappointed.

Let's look at the film more closely.

The last hundred years or so of sighting information was presented accurately, and without any type of implications being imparted to the viewer--save for the obvious element of We On Planet Earth possibly having been visited by extra terrestrial beings at one time or another.  *That* is, of course, the entire point of this film's study.

Stated another way, the first three quarters of the documentary didn't dive off the deep end into scare tactics, essentially letting the viewer decide for themselves.

Things broke down at the 75% mark, however, with an almost immediate segue into the mentioning of Abrahamic viewpoints about "Satan", "demons", and "fallen angels"  Can anyone say "Nephilim"?  (I mean, what type of project would this be if it didn't delve into the "fallen angels mating with the 'daughters of men'" mythology?

Following the first mentioning of the creatures, the viewer is treated to a wonderful flash-frame-forward viewing of a series of demonic-like images, replete with the usual "Goat Horned 'Devil'" type of pctures.  Historically, images such as these took the place of the pre-medieval "Pagan Gods," such as Pan, Cernunnos, and the rest of the various Pantheons that existed before Christianity took hold of Europe in ages past, essentially being used by the early European Churches as "substitute imagery" for the "heathen folk" (read: Country Dwellers), who had very little influence upon the more powerful factions of the day.

The last 25% of the documentary is a cautionary tale, and we are "warned very sternly" by--get this!--A "Welsh Baptist" pastor from California!  What the heck?  A Californian, Baptist pastor of Welsh decent, complete with accent.  This guy took up TEN WHOLE MINUTES, and was the LAST PART OF THE MOVIE!

"Ouch!"  In a word.

So just what is this telling us?  That Baptists seem to know all there is to know about so-called demons, devils, and fallen angels and their semi-human offspring (from the 'courting' of early history's young ladies, so it would appear.)?

This reviewer thinks otherwise.

Summarizing, I found "A UFO Conspiracy" rather enjoyable for the first three quarters of the show, but ended up rolling my eyes at the end.  The addition of a "California-based 'Welsh' Baptist Preacher" ending the film just didn't cut the mustard with this reviewer.

There wasn't enough information presented before the segue into the last quarter of the movie; if more supportive information had been given to support the latter part of the film, I believe it would have made it more enjoyable, as well as supported the (assumed) opinions of the film's producers.  However, as it stands, it just didn't do that very well, as I see it.

The first 3/4 was informative and interesting.  The last 25% was somewhat less satisfying, meant more to provide a fear-response in the viewer, of the "believe in Christ or Go Straight To Hell" type of response.  At that point, I had, indeed, had enough.

I'm just glad that Welsh Baptist isn't served with Welsh Rarebit.  To me, the two would just clash too much! ;->

Be Well Everyone, and Thanks For Reading!  --Firefishe

Friday, March 01, 2013

Netflix Movie Review: Ghost From The Machine - Netflix

Being a ham radio operator, as well as a paranormal buff, I understand the concept.  The concept being that, electromagnetic imprints of long-term residents of certain places may remain after death, and, if you could energize the ionic space in question, well, perhaps something might just appear--and even, if one were not careful, they'd be a little naughty.

However, that's not what bothers me. It's not the concept, the technology, or the low-budget nature of the film, ergo, actors, props, devices, locations, and such.  All of the aforementioned were used, as I see it, with alacrity; I also thought the cinematography was excellent and highly believable for such a film.  I enjoyed the low-key nature of the environmental shots--the store, the neighborhood, inside the store, the school...  Ah!  The School!

Let's cut right to the chase.  This film had characters that were simply bullies, pure and simple!  The educational system of whatever town this was in had absolutely no tolerance for any type of 'going against the norm' relative to school attendance.  It was draconian, unsympathetic, and threatening; and not much else.

The Child Protective Services Man, and the woman teacher were--as all good movie stereotypical tropes from days of yore do tell us--black.  Black, and with an attitude, ten fathoms deep to their very core, with the "movie-typical, socialistic, fascistic personality tendencies."
The fact is, save for very few exceptions--if any...I can't think of any place on the silver screen where it wasn't--this type of character is always portrayed by a black person, or persons, and they all have "that liberal extremist, education-at-all-costs-or-death" type of attitude.

I actually just jumped to the end, right before the basement encounter with the "nasty couple."  It was true-to-form.  The young Guardian-Of-His-Brother pleading and begging with the "big, bad, CPS Agent," followed by the CPS Agent giving a short, sweet, catch-all  statement "all you had to do was get him to school on time."  As if that mere fact is the only important issue going on.

The grief wasn't even mentioned!

Gads, if the family death issues weren't enough!  Didn't these people have family or friends who were sympathetic enough to suggest grief counseling?  This reviewer has been through a nasty experience, myself, with a family death that had a similar alienation effect--although for different reasons.  Still, this film's "government teaching establishment characters" brought out an ire in me that few films have ever done.

Now don't get me wrong.  I absolutely L-O-V-E-D the science part of it.  That's what I think should've been focused upon more, and then the relationship issues.  Think along the lines of the movie "Solaris" and you'll get my meaning.

Now, I wouldn't have taken apart the fridge just to satisfy a hobby need.  However, these circumstances were a bit more, well, weird.  Grief does weird things to people at times, and this on-screen-fantasy might just be what could happen, given the proper instances.

So, in summary:
  • The scientific paranormal premise was, to me, a sound plot device.  So were the people centered around the happenings the device was causing.  I felt there could've been a bit more interaction along these lines, as this is what the film was primarily about.

  • The scenes were well done, overall, and I really felt like I was in the "relatively bucolic" neighborhoods portrayed.

  • The biology teacher seemed like a Les Nessman of WKRP In Cincinatti fame type of character, but with a bit more self-aggrandized arrogance, and not the least bit funny.  (Okay, I'll give his description of his classroom One Star for Effort!)

  • The black woman cast as the principal (I wasn't sure on this one) was so stereotypically "movie trope," I was overjoyed that the one scene she was in didn't last long.  The close-up really got to me; I felt it was *that* horrible, utterly predictable, and trite.  (Which leads me to question:  Did the director have an issue with Minnesota's Child Protective Services, of which I've heard some horror stories?  "Socialist Fascistic" type of stuff?  Read:  "Nazi In A Mortarboard!")

  • The real banger for me was the character of the Child Protective Services Agent.  I don't think this actor had much to do, other than act mean, be threatening, and pander to verbiage equaling nothing more than ultimatums, as if "someone as young as the surviving eldest son" couldn't figure it out, eventually, with a bit of sympathetic counseling.  (Empathic wouldn't hurt, either!)  My interior loathing was really drawn out by this character, and it was not a pleasant experience.
So the movie ends with the older son's younger brother being ignominiously driven away by an unsympathetic authority figure--who didn't even have a part in understanding the other part of the film--which, to me, is what the tale was really about.

I found the 'custody/threat' sub-plot non-engaging and detrimental, drawing the viewer away from the technical/spiritual elements of the main plot device, and ending the movie with a non-plussing sort of feeling

Still, I enjoyed most of it.  I give it a Net Total of Three Stars.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Withdrawn From Kaplan

Summary Update

  1. Kaplan University = $33K for an Associate's, 66K for a Bachelor's.
  2. Loan debt of $31K+ already incurred, ergo, NO MORE LOANS!
  3. Working on a smaller Missouri Technical College where I can use ONLY GRANT MONEY!
  4. Above being held up due to Financial Aid Verification issues related to taxes.
  5. Waiting on 2011 W2 from USA Truck so I can file my 2011 return.
  6. Wishing I Had Money!
  7. Wishing I Had Talent To Earn Money
  8. Tired Of Being Held Back By Every Circumstance.
  9. Wanting Relief From Disabilities.
  10. Desiring New Path and Experiences To Get Me To Where I Want To Be.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Kaplan University

Hello Everyone, The Humble Fishe here, back from another long hiatus.

Summer's come and gone, and a lot has happened in the world.  In my corner of our planet, I've had a nice Holiday season and New Year.  So, with a new season of life upon me, I figured it was time to continue my educational pursuits.

You see, I made a promise to myself a few years ago wherein I promised myself that I would earn a college degree by the time I'm 50!  That promise remains, as yet, unfulfilled.  So I'm trying again.

I've chosen  Kaplan University's Online Information Technology Associate Degree program (to start), and their Bachelor Degree program to round out my first--and probably last--college educational endeavor.  I may or not need to get a Master's, but Graduate degrees are another matter, have different dynamics than the undergraduate programs, and have their own inherent nuances, challenges, and politics.

Better to leave the Graduate degrees alone for the time being and concentrate on the more immediate need of obtaining my Associate Degree.   And what an Associate Degree it is!  At $33K, it's quite the two-year.  The thing is, I  haven't found any way to be reasonably successful with local colleges, and I'm online all the time, anyway, so I figured that "it's time to just go private!"

Private schools are more expensive than their public counterparts, but they also often provide more personalized service than their public counterparts.  Online education is different from in-person education.  I believe that online teaching should take advantage of the medium, and not try to be a "mere copy" of an in-person classroom experience.  If I wanted that, I have a plethora of local choices from which to choose.

Well, I choose Online, instead!

I'm more comfortable in the privacy of my own home, where I can concentrate.  Since I have ADHD and other "cognitive learning disabilities" to begin with, this makes more sense from a "quiet and central place to work and plan" point of view.

It does present the challenge of all the adherence to the attendance of live, online seminars (of which many of Kaplan's online courses are made up of), and navigating the online environment's homework portals, library, and other such matters, but to a person who's used to working with Arch Linux, I don't see this as being much of a problem, let alone, a challenge.

Point-and-click to the correct item on the web page, hit the Submit button, and you're there!  Homework 101's done for the week!  (At least, that's the simplified version ;->.  There are almost always exceptions.  Still, I deal with these things pretty decently for most, if not all, items.)

I'm still in the preliminary stages of the application process, and won't know more until tomorrow, Friday.  I need to get through the Financial Aid process, and this will either make or break my ability to participate at Kaplan.  I can be only hopeful that a positive attitude will get me through the process, and onto the more important elements of class participation.

I look forward to keeping everyone updated.  I shall add more as time progresses.

Best Regards,
The Humble Fishe