Travelling With An Android – Quick Guide To Some Great Applications for Newbies

I always feared Android phones would be all hype and overrated, mainly because it was said that the Android platform itself was seemingly fragmented as there were several versions of it running on various phones, therefore applications did not always run as well as they should on all phones. Android itself was a tad immature compared to the long proven reliability and standardised interfaces of the Symbian-powered, mostly Nokia phones. But over the years, outdated platforms have disappeared as manufacturers catch up.

I’d been a Nokia stalwart all the while but finally relented and migrated to an Android phone about 3 weeks ago, like many of the legions of fast-growing Android fans. Thought I would hang on to my trusty Nokia 5530 a little while longer but I guess the temptation of embracing that green little robot was too great. Customisation is the name of the game in technology these days after all. My Nokia did a lot of things for me, and I particularly rely a lot on it when I am travelling. After unlocking it with a simple hack to grant me full capability access, I’d loaded it with tonnes of applications or ‘apps’ as they are commonly called. When I bought my ‘el cheapo’ Chinese made, great bang-for-the-buck, Android 2.2 powered ZTE Blade, I was hoping it will outdo my Nokia in terms of usability given the hundreds of thousands of Android apps in the ‘Android Market’. Well, Iphone has more apps, but hey I never really pulled for the Iphone camp for some reason, perhaps because I suppose I like supporting underdogs more! After having the phone for 3 weeks now, I must admit that Android has not disappointed, and I am pretty pleased to learn it has lived up to its hype.

I like to keep my apps count to the minimum. I mainly instal apps that are useful in organising my life or for when I travel. If you are an Android newbie and feel overwhelmed by the massive Android market, here is a short list of some great Android apps (I have installed them all) if you happen to be well, an absolute minimalist like me who appreciates powerful, easy to use, quality apps. The bad news is that some apps are not free and the better apps or those with advanced features often requires one to ‘root’ the phone, meaning performing a simple ‘hack’ to grant full, ‘super- user’ capability to the phone such that you may install any app or other modified phone firmware with unrestricted access. Rooting could also void your phone’s warranty, so it may not be a good idea to root your phone right out of the box before ensuring it is free of hardware or software faults. Better to give your phone a run for a few weeks first before rooting it, just to be on the safe side. Giving details here is unnecessary as there are a zillion pages on Android apps, installing customized Android firmware and rooting on Google.

Utilities:(important as Android devices are memory and battery hungry)

  • Set CPU – vary CPU clock rate and manage battery optimization using customizable profiles
  • Advanced Task Killer Pro – autokill running background apps
  • Easy SpeedUp – kill running background apps in one click
  • Autorun Manager – prevents some apps from auto-starting
  • AutoKIller Memory Optimizer – kill apps when memory reaches preset levels
  • Blade Buddy Pro – optimization tweaks to speed phone
  • Spare Parts Plus – more phone optimization options
  • App Installer – for listing app and installing them
  • Power Control Plus – extra functions and toggle buttons to enable/disable airplane mode, lock screen, bluetooth and many more in one click
  • Battery Widget – battery level indicator in percentage and shortcut to display control, bluetooth, etc.

File Managers:

  • Astro File Manager – file explorer
  • Root Explorer – like Astro, with access to phone system files also
  • Launcher Pro- enhances the stock Android home screen and adds more functionality
  • Keyboard:
  • SlideIt – Oneof the first apps I installed.Great keyboard, similar to the more well-known Swype. I prefer SlideIT for its superior speed and predictive accuracy.


  • PowerAmp – absolute must-have for audiophiles, widely regarded as the best Android music player currently. Sound is impressive with its 10-band equalizer with separate bass/treble controls
  • Player Pro (with optional DSP equalizer plugin) – alternative to PowerAmp
  • Rock Player – supports most popular video formats, including mkv and avi

Document Readers or Editors:

  • Quickoffice Pro – for viewing and editing MS Office documents
  • RepliGo Reader – brilliant for viewing and editing PDF files. Free!
  • Cool Reader – eBook reader supporting most formats like Fb2, ePub, pdb, etc


  • Easy Money – expense manager
  • Checkmark ToDoList – shopping, todo and general list manager
  • CheckIt Off – daily task and to-do manager
  • Jorte – calendar app
  • Launcher Pro’s built-in calendar – comes with a brilliant scrollable widget too, integratable with Google calendar

GPS and Location:

  • GPS Essentials – for handy info on nearby satellites and other useful GPS tools, comes with a nifty compass too
  • Google Maps – the most well-known one. It is usually pre-loaded on Android
  • NDrive – simple navigation that may not rival Google Maps but can be used offline. Country maps are not free though.

Web Browsers:

  • Opera Mini – my all-time favourite for its speed and user-friendly interface
  • UC Browser – good, well-made, functional browser


  • Handcent SMS – a much better sms app than the stock Android’s with features like assigning individual sms tones to contacts, sms scheduling and many more
  • Go SMS – alternative to Handcent
  • Concise English Oxford Dictionary – quick reference for English Language enthusiasts and a handy companion for eBook reading
  • XE Currency – free mobile version of a great currency converter for travelling
  • ConvertPad – conversion utility covering many categories, from length and weight to temperature, power and torque

Many people download apps directly from the in-built Android Market app on the phone. I prefer to download the relevant ‘.apk’ file to my pc, transfer it over to the phone, just run the file and instal. That way I can research and review apps better before installing. No way is the list above the best. Functions can be the same across similar applications but user-interface and personal preference differ. I love simplicity and speed, but go with what you want and need.

Android is easy enough to get a hang off. I didn’t have to morph into a geek since I got my phone. The platform is also constantly evolving and it can only get better with time.

Working As A Freelance Writer – The Pros and Cons

Thinking Of Becoming A Freelance Writer?

Almost everyone who works for a living would like to be his or her own boss. As a freelance writer, this is exactly what you can be.

Even though what you write and how you do it will often be dictated by those who “commission” your work, they are best thought of as clients who need to be kept on side throughout the project.

Pitching stories or picking and choosing assignments allows you to decide what sort of work you do, which days and hours you work, and where you work. However, with such responsibility you will soon learn that being your own boss is one of the hardest skills to master.

A freelance writer’s greatest adversary is procrastination. What causes it is a lack of motivation, routine and discipline. The most important thing to do if you fall into this trap is just “show up” for work on a regular basis so everything is in place for the rest to flow naturally.

The “Pros” of Working for Yourself As A Freelance Writer

1. As long as you meet the deadlines set by your clients, you are free to work the hours you like – morning, noon or night.

2. If you have ongoing commitments that only allow you to work two days a week, for instance, freelance writing could fit your lifestyle perfectly.

3. It’s an ideal occupation for individuals with young children who want to avoid travel time and child-care expenses by working from home.

4. As a freelance writer is that you get to run your own “show”. You are effectively a sub-contractor providing your services for a fee, so you don’t have to deal with the office politics that are so prevalent in competitive workplaces.

The “Cons” of Working for Yourself As A Freelance Writer

The downside of not having a full-time job paying a salary is that you don’t receive sickness benefits, paid holidays, rostered days off, leave loading, travel allowances or superannuation payments, unless of course you organise them yourself.

In light of this, there are certain risks and disadvantages you should be aware of as a freelance writer, particularly if it is to be your sole source of income:

1. If you are sick or badly injured and can’t work, you will not receive any income for the time it takes you to recover.

2. If you want to go on holiday for two weeks, for example, you won’t earn anything in those two weeks.

3. When you return from holiday, it may take another two weeks to write and be paid for a story. That means you would have to plan for an income free period of up to four weeks.

4. If you incur expenses in the course of writing a story, they will have to come straight out of your pocket. You may or may not be able to claim these expenses back depending on the circumstances.

5. You will have to arrange to make your own regular superannuation payments and PAYG tax installments (depending on your circumstances).

6. You may have other business related taxes to pay also so you will need to seek advice from an Accountant.

The decision is yours and has to be based on what will be the best option for you individually. No two situations are the same so it’s important to look at all the pros and cons before making any drastic decisions. One thing’s for sure though, working for yourself, from home will ensure more time with your family and that is a wonderful side benefit that you should consider.

Virtual Empire Builder – Why You Should Consider Building Your Pro Travel Network Business Online

There are only a couple ways a person looking to join the Pro Travel Network can build their business. The first of course being the traditional, antiquated way that still 99.9% of network marketers are being taught or – a simply choose to step into the new era of how network marketing empires are being built utilizing technology and the internet. The choice to do so is completely left up too you as a prospective PTN representative or current associate of the company. Often, people who join a network marketing company tend to be grandfathered in by a system that’s been in place long before they join.

The problem that scenario poses is that we live in a totally different time in business where the market calls for far more than just fliers, buttons, list of names, conference calls, home meetings, etc. With the advents in technology that allow a human being to access information on just about anything under the sun. This means the buffer zone that existed prior to the internet is a thing of the past. In the old days people had no clue as to the credibility of a company, integrity of the founders, infrastructure, and leadership except through the eyes of the associate from that company. For that reason more than any other is why I truly feel the negative connotation the industry has garnered over the past several decades originated from and perpetually continued. From individuals with no integrity making false claims, over the top promises, and empty hype to people who truly believed in what they were being told continuously.

Well, with the internet a lot of the unethical practices have been cut out completely, now because people don’t have to simply rely on what their being told, but by doing their own due diligence and examination of any company that exist, even the Pro Travel Network. This allows those who truly take the time and become a student of internet marketing to capitalize on this wonderful feat in modern business. Why? Because now people know that within a matter of minutes they can go to a computer and search for exactly what they want to know and who they want to know about. This is where the crucial step to building a Pro Travel Network business online comes into play. With the number of people continuing to grow astronomically across the world of internet users, as an internet marketer who truly understands how to give people exactly what they want – you cannot lose. Each and every day there is someone somewhere searching for specific information about the Pro Travel Network, its track record, company founders, revenues, growth, etc. The part where you come in is being a face or having the answers to what they want to know. Thus placing you as an expert or person of keen knowledge about the Pro Travel Network able to help that particular person with what they wanted.

So, to sum it up and wrap this article in one or two sentences is as described next. If you are able to position yourself as someone who totally knows and has the answers of what people are looking for. You will automatically be someone heavily considered in joining, and that is because you gave them what they wanted without having to go far. Most importantly you didn’t have to meet for a cup of coffee, invite them to your house, or drag them to a hotel meeting. You simply allowed them to have access to what they were searching for. Remember, it is always better for a person to actively find something on their own merit instead of having it force fed or aggressively placed in front of them by someone who still practices the antiquated ways of network marketing. That is the power of the internet and that is how you win in the new era of network marketing.

The Incase DSLR Pro Pack – The Best All-Round Digital Camera Bag

I have been a camera enthusiast for a few years now. I started with digital cameras and now I’m experimenting with DSLRs.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned in my years playing around with cameras – is that cameras are sensitive gadgets.

And the need to look after your photography gear is paramount… the best way to do that – is by using a good quality digital camera bag for the safe transportation of your gear.

So if you’re keen to take on photography as a hobby, choosing the right bag for your gear is top priority.

Personally, I find shoulder bags to be physically draining to carry, and hard cases are better off left for the pros.

Backpacks are the way to go, there are many advantages in buying backpack style camera bags, including comfort & large capacity.

My digital camera bag of choice is the brand new Incase DSLR Pro Pack.

I found this bag online, and am very grateful that I did…

As I am currently travelling around Asia with all my camera gear – and this bag has made my job of getting my gear from “A-to-B” a great deal easier.

The Incase DSLR Pro Pack fits a ton of gear inside including…

* DSLR Camera body
* 15″ notebook
* iPad
* Tons of accessories
* Tripod

My Canon camera fits neatly into the fast access pouch where I can get to it quickly, when I need it the most.

I have a 15″ Macbook Pro & that slots nicely into the dedicated pouch inside the main compartment.

My iPad even has its own dedicated, fleece lined pocket to call home inside the bag too.

The other lenses and accessories including flash kits, batteries, and even power supplies fit into the rear compartment that opens right up to fit a ton of extra gear.

You can even take your tripod with you, by strapping it to the side of the bag using purpose made straps on the side of the bag.

The Incase DSLR Pro Pack is my absolute favourite new travel bag, as it safely fits all my digital accessories in the one place, I no longer have to worry about the safety of my photography gear, or my laptop because I know they are safe & sound inside my reliable bag.

For a photographer, Incase have made it possible to take all the gear you need to complete your shoot on the go… you no longer have to leave any of your valuable gear at home, so you have it all at your finger tips when you need it the most.

The bag is styled in Incase’s typical minimalist look, which makes a nice change from the usual “boxy” look of most other camera bag manufacturers.