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Notes from a New Dad

Zedge – Free Ringtones & Wallpapers – App of the day Wednesday

Today’s App of the day is Zedge, a fantastic APP that allows you to get free ringtones, notification sounds, & wallpapers for your Android phone.

Features

  • Ringtones - With a boatload of apps claiming to have “free” ringtones out there in the Android Market, Zedge shines out among them. Many of these Apps use the word “free” but only offer a handful of free downloads, and you have to pay for the rest. Or, the quality of the ringtones are just hit and miss. Zedge is ad supported, so they don’t try to make money off of the actual items downloaded, allowing users to actually get things for “free”. The selection is pretty impressive considering that everything is uploaded by users. When you select a ringtone it plays for you, and then you can select to download it, then assign it as your primary ringtone, or assign it to a contact in your address book.
  • Notification Sounds - Pretty much exactly the same as the ringtones. I will say that the selection of notification sounds is less impressive. Zedge doesn’t seem to have any sort of limit of the length of the notifications. For my notification sound, I want something short and sweet, not a full song like in a ringtone. There are some great ones out there, you just have to dig for them a little more.
  • Wallpaper - The wallpaper selections are quite nice as well, you can select from a bunch of different categories, and thousands to choose from. When you find one that you want, download it and set it directly through the program.
THIS APPLICATION IS NOT FAMILY FRIENDLY – AND KIDS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO PLAY WITH IT ON THEIR OWN. Because Zedge is just a sharing app where users upload media for others to download, there doesn’t appear to be an sort of adult content rules. This is the biggest beef I have with the program. Several of the ringtones have profanity either in the media or in the title. Likewise, if you browse through many wallpapers you are going to come across some inappropriate photos. Keep this in mind, and if you have kids that regularly have free reign over your phone, this is a GREAT reason NOT to use this app. Or to use it to find a couple ringtones you like and then uninstall them.
With the above in mind, I will say that by default Zedge has a “family filter” activated when you open the program. I’m sure it helps, but there’s still lots of unsafe media that makes it’s way through.
In summary, Zedge is my favorite ringtone & wallpaper app, and I’ve downloaded a bunch of their stuff. If it weren’t for the adult content concern, I’d give them 5 stars. With that in mind however, I’d say Zedge is a solid 4 star app.
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My baby at six months

Life as a dad for the first six months have been a ton of fun. It’s been way more fun than I ever thought it would be, and everyone keeps telling me that I haven’t even gotten to the most enjoyable part yet. For all you other dads and dads-to-be out there, I’d like to give you occasional updates, at least monthly, on how things are going in the baby realm. Most blogs about parenting are from a mom’s perspective, so maybe these updates will give you a bit of a heads up in what to expect while your kid is getting older.

baby with a toy

When Abby sees something she wants, she goes for it.

Abby is always learning new things, but she seems to catch on to things so much faster over the last couple weeks. It’s been in about that time frame that she’s become mobile. She’s starting to figure out how to crawl around on the floor, and it’s kind of scary how fast she can go already. She hasn’t gotten the whole crawling motion down yet, but if she she’s on the floor, and she sees something she wants, she will go for it. She’ll scoot, turn, roll, and sometimes do something like crawling to get to it. It’s a lot of fun to watch.

She also has started talking more. It’s simply fantastic to hear her say “dada”. Of course, to her it’s just a sound, and usually it goes more like “dadadadadadadada”, but it still means alot to me when I hear it. She’ll say other things as well, and sometimes she’ll just lay on the floor and scream, but it’s not because she’s upset, it’s because she’s figuring out exactly how her voice works.

She can also (almost) sit up on her own. She doesn’t do it much, and she’ll fall over sometimes, but she loves doing “crunches” and trying to sit up. She’s comfortable sitting in her highchair, and is usually pretty happy there.

It’s exciting to see my baby grow bigger and bigger each day. Each week she gets smarter, her smile gets prettier, and her diapers get stinkier. Life is good. All you other dad’s out there, keep up the good work.

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Prophecies of Christmas – First prophecy of Christ’s Coming

For the next 5 weeks preceding Christmas, I will have a series of posts on Bible prophecies directly relating to Christmas. I will cover from one to a few in each week. There are a ton of them out there, so this won’t be an exhaustive study. Looking at these prophecies really show the true miracle of Christmas, and what it is all about. There is no way that anyone else but Jesus Christ could be the one prophesied in the Old Testament to the the coming Savior, the Messiah.

 The first Prophecy of Christ’s Coming – Genesis 3:15Serpent on Tree

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
   and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
   and you shall bruise his heel.”

When God spoke those words, he was speaking to Lucifer, disguised as a serpent in the garden of Eden. Lucifer had just tempted Eve to do the one thing she was forbidden to do, and she did it, with Adam right on her heels. For the first time in history, man has fallen out of grace with God, and there will be consequences, however, there is also a ray of hope. Alongside the curse and the fall of man, God gives a prophecy, the serpent will be defeated. The serpent would appear to have a minor victory “you shall bruise his heel”, but in the end the offspring of the woman would conquer.

It’s significant that the defeat comes from the offspring (Hebrew word also translated “seed”) of the woman, where one would come who would “bruise the serpent’s heal.” Now here’s a basic lesson in human anatomy – the woman does not have the “seed”, the seed comes from the man. If a woman had the “seed” for a child, she wouldn’t need the man, and therefore a virgin birth would be possible. That’s right, this is also the first prophecy of a Virgin Birth.

I think it’s absolutely amazing that even as man was sinning for the first time, God had a plan to save him from that sin. God is so far above you and I, or time and space, he knows what was and is and is yet to come, and only through that knowledge could he have the foresight to develop this perfect plan of salvation. What an awesome God we serve!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you remember this holiday for what it is – a time to give thanks to God for everything he has given you. The Pilgrims celebrated a new chance at religious freedom, and we still have that today.

I’m going to do something a little different with this post, and take five minutes to write out everything I can think of that I’m thankful for. I will not go back and edit the list except for basic spelling and punctuation. Starting….

NOW!

I’m thankful for this country, the United States of America. I’m thankful that we have the freedom of speech, religion, and the right to bear arms. I’m thankful for my family. My immediate family, and my extended family. They all mean so much to me. I’m thankful for my friends and my church family. I’m thankful for my apartment. I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful for all the ridiculous baby stuff we have. I’m thankful for everyone in our lives who gave us that baby stuff. I’m thankful for a full kitchen and a wife who makes awesome food. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share the gospel. I’m thankful for Salvation. I’m thankful that God sent His only son to die for me so that I could live with him forever. I’m thankful for my baby girl who is making alot of noise right now, because she wants her daddy’s attention. I’m thankful that I’m two and a half minutes into this… hmmm *pauses timer to get baby*

OK, continuing now. I’m thankful that my wife is feeding my baby so I can finish my blog post. I’m thankful for my car, and the amazing deal I got on it. I’m thankful that we have two cars in our family and for the convenience that gives us. I’m thankful that God put me here in the United States, and that He’s given me such a good life. I’m thankful for Texas, and that I’m a Texan. I’m thankful for Boy Scouts, and all the things I learned with my BSA buddies growing up. I’m thankful for everything!

We all have a ton to be thankful for, take this thanksgiving to remember those things. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

 

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

   for his steadfast love endures forever!

1 Chronicles 16:34

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Vlingo Virtual Assistant – App of the day Wednesday

Starting today, I’m announcing the start of App of the day Wednesday! As an Android Enthiast, and current user of the HTC Evo, I’m a complete app-a-holic. Over the last couple years I’ve found a bunch android applications that I absolutely love. The plan is to take one of those Apps each week and post a brief review of why I love (or hate) it. To kick things off, I’ll start with the non-stock app that I use the absolute most, Vlingo Virtual Assistant.

Vlingo Virtual Assistant – the “Siri for Android”

Vlingo Virtual Assistant

Vlingo Virtual Assistant

Before the advent of Siri, Vlingo was the best phone “virtual assistant” out there. Vlingo is the Siri-like app for Android, and it’s still the best Android virtual assistant. The features and abilities of Vlingo are not as robust as Siri on the iPhone 4s, but it still is a very respectable app. It does what you need it to do, and does it well.

In a nutshell:

Vlingo is a simple app that allows quick and effective voice commands to control your phone. Using Vlingo you can call others, compose text messages or email, search Google, find local businesses, start apps, navigate to an address, and much more all activated only by your voice. The app also has text-to-speech capabilities, and will announce and read incoming messages to you.

Features:

  • Voice Commands – Vlingo voice commands are very powerful, and allow you to do things with your phone while driving it would be unsafe to do otherwise. You can say things like “text mom, message, I love you”, and not only would that text message be sent, but your mom might wonder what exactly has gotten into you. Here’s a list of the voice commands (that I”m aware of ) that Vlingo currently supports.
    • Send Messages including texting and emailing
    • Call someone
    • Find Restaurants and Businesses
    • Check the Weather
    • Search or “Google” something
    • Update Facebook, Twitter, or Foursquare status
    • Open apps by saying them
    • Ask questions (things that Vlingo has in it’s database – like “how many ounces in a gallon” or “who is Steve Jobs”)
    • Get directions or navigate
    • Book hotel, or find a taxi
    • Buy movie tickets
  • Safe Reader – Safe Reader is a feature that enables incoming messages to be read out loud. This way, when you are driving, you don’t have to look at your phone, you can just listen to it. This is extra convenient if you wear a headset OR have your phone connected to your car audio.
  • Vlingo In-Car – This is an awesome feature. When enabled it not only turns on Safe Reader, but you can say things without pushing any button on your phone, you just say “hey Vlingo” and Vlingo is ready for your command.
Thoughts
I have Vlingo enabled so when I long-hold the search button on my HTC Evo, it pops up ready for a voice command. I absolutely love this App. I used it long before Apple bought Siri, and it always impressed my friends with iPhones (although, I believe there is a Vlingo app for the iPhone). Vlingo does pretty much everything that Siri does, it’s just not as “clean cut”, yet. Now that the bar has been raised, however, I’m excited to see what updates Vlingo has in the near future, OR what other Android apps are going to come out that are even better than Vlingo or Siri.
Lots of people  like to use their phone while in the car, and me calling other people out on that would be the pot calling the tea kettle black. However, Vlingo allows you to use your phone SAFELY in your car. You can navigate your way when your lost or trying to get around traffic, sent text messages, and compose emails all without endangering your life and the lives of the people driving around you. Needless to say, I HIGHLY recommend this app. 5 Stars.

 

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Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

Christmas decorations started real early this year. I think the mall, Wal-Mart, and Main Street all had Christmas trees and decorations out the first week of November. I love Christmas, and am looking forward to my first Christmas as a dad, but it’s important that we don’t let Thanksgiving get lost in the Christmas hustle and bustle. Use this time of the year to reflect on everything God’s given you, and give thanks. In continuation of my series of “thankful posts,” here are three more things I’m thankful for…

I’m thankful for technology

I admit it, I’m a little addicted to it, but I love technology. It’s a true blessing that we’ve been given to have access to so much information at our fingertips. To be able to learn what others have spent years uncovering in seconds at a search bar is incredible. We can read entire libraries of books on one small device, and create music without playing an instrument. The list of things technology does goes on and on from technology that saves lives, to technology that wastes our time. Some is good, some is bad, but it’s a tool, and I’m thankful that we have it.

I’m thankful for Community Group

A couple months ago we started a community group with some friend from church in the area. It’s been a true blessing to have a time of sharing and accountability each week, and the studies in the Word have been outstanding as well.

I’m thankful for my espresso machine

We got an espresso machine as a wedding gift, and when we did I didn’t actually know what espresso was. My wife taught me, and then it became my toy. If I have a guilty pleasure, it’s my morning latte or cappuccino. I like my espresso.

 

Those are a few things that I’m thankful for, how about you? Share some of the things God’s given you to be thankful for in the comments below. Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow!

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2 Days ’til Thanksgiving!

A continuation of my series of posts of things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for food.

Well, I am. I love food, I love to eat. I really love thanksgiving food.

I’m thankful for a great church family.

I’ve been going to FBCLC for a couple years now, and It’s been a great experience. I love a church where everybody knows everybody, and everyone is focused on doing their part in the body of Christ. We have great pastors and teachers who bring challenging messages every week that inspire me to grow closer in my walk with the Lord.

I’m thankful for my job

God’s given me a great 8-5 job that pays the bills and keeps a roof over our head. With one out of ten people in the U.S. out of work, I am truly blessed to have a good job with good benefits.

 

There’s no time like Thanksgiving to reflect on the many blessings God has given you. Leave a few things that you are thankful for in the comments section, or a link to a post on those things in your blog.

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3 Days ’til Thanksgiving

This is the next post in the series leading up to thanksgiving of things I’m thankful for.

I’m thankful for godly parents

Some of my earliest memories of both my parents are of them reading the Bible. Throughout my young life I would see my dad up at 4 or 5 am every day studying his Bible in our living room, then a little later before school started I’d see mom doing the same thing. Their Godly example and teaching constantly spurs me to be a better husband and father. I”m thankful for my parents, I couldn’t have asked for any better.

I’m thankful for my siblings

I shared a room with my brothers for 16 years, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. My sister I’ve enjoyed getting to know even better in our adult lives. I know what a blessing it is to have family that I’m so close too even when we aren’t living together.

I’m thankful for all my friends

God’s given me so many wonderful friends. I have friends who encourage me when I’m doing good, and correct me when I’m wrong. You know who you are – ’nuff said.

 

What people has God given you to be thankful for? Give a shout out to them in the comments below.

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4 Days ’til Thanksgiving

 

I have so much to be thankful for. I sat down and started to make a list of things that God’s provided to me and my family, and the list just kept getting longer and longer. There’s no way I could ever finish it, but in the spirit of the season, for the next 5 days, through Thanksgiving, I will post three things that I have to be thankful for (in no particular order). If anyone wants to do the same, leave a link to your blog in the comments section.

I am thankful for my Savior, Jesus Christ

Nothing else could kick off a blog post about thankfulness than a tribute to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He’s given me this life to live and everything I have in it. He’s given me Salvation and eternal life, and I’m thankful.

I am thankful for my wife

No one makes me happier from day to day than my wife. I love her more than anything else. I am so thankful that she chose me to spend her life with, because I know she could have done better.

I am thankful for my daughter

There is no blessing like the blessing of fatherhood. It was a life changing moment when I became a father, and I haven’t looked back yet. I am so thankful for my little girl.

 

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Icecream Sandwich – A review of Android 4.0 beta on a Nexus S 4G

I recently purchased the Google Nexus S 4G from Sprint. I’m a huge fan of the Android OS, and I wanted to see the much anticipated Android 4.0 – nicknamed Icecream Sandwich. I’ve never rooted my phone before, so this was a learning experience. It was much more difficult than I’d anticipated, and I wound up reverting back to Gingerbread after the process, as I couldn’t get my phone to connect to the mobile network with the Icecream Sandwich beta I downloaded. I may post a more detailed account of the rooting process some other time, but the purpose of this post is to discuss some of the cool features and differences in Icecream Sandwich that I noticed after playing around with it for a few days.

Icecream Sandwich Screenshot

  • No menu button – Android is going from four buttons to navigate the phone to just three by getting rid of the menu button. When I first realized my menu button didn’t work with the upgrade, I didn’t like it. The truth is, however, it’s just as easy to navigate around without it. I don’t think I’ll miss it too much. I’m not sure how Google is going to handle the apps out there that rely on the menu button for their navigation, but I’m sure that there will be updates pretty quick with the new launch.
  • Easy Google search from any screen – This is a feature I really love. In the screenshot to the right you can see the Google search bar with the microphone on the top. This is on every screen, so it’s easy to hit the mic icon and say what you need to search for.
  • Improved voice to text – This is a HUGE upgrade. The voice to text that is used when texting and/or emailing others is much more streamlined. You see the text type as your are speaking, you can pause and continue talking, and it keeps the recorder on until you are finished. This is much better than the voice-to-text in the Gingerbread OS where you have to push the microphone icon, say a phrase or two, then wait to see whether or not it was translated correctly before you can push the icon again and say your next word or phrase.
  • “Google Apps” This is the first difference I noticed when I booted Android 4.0 for the first time. The Google Apps icon shows the integration improvements Google is making to Android. There is a much bigger focus on Google+ throughout the phones whole OS. In the Google Apps Icon there are links to Google+, Calendar, Gmail, and all those other Google applications we know and love so well. This is also where the “Settings” app hides out (since you can’t access it via the menu button anymore).
  • Bottom Nav Bar – Yes, this is pretty much stealing from the iPhone Navigation, but it’s a great idea, so kudos to Google for seeing it and taking advantage of it. On the bottom of all your home screens there is room for 5 fixed icons which you can change to what you want them to be. The default is phone, sms, apps, Google talk, and internet.
  • Widgets and Apps in same screen – When you access your apps screen, there is a tab on the top to allow you to see installed widgets as well. This is kind of cool, but I don’t know that it’s any easier then Gingerbread’s way of adding widgets to your home screens.
  • Uninstall Apps directly from the apps menu - This is a MASSIVE enhancement in my opinion. In Android 4.0 when you long-hold apps to add them to your home screen, you can also drag them up to uninstall them. That’s something that Android should have implemented long ago.
  • Streamlined multitasking/task killing – Holding down the home button allows you to not only switch between apps, but also close them. Granted, it’s not replacement for Advanced Task Killer yet, as you can only close the apps that you initiated running, so it doesn’t do any good for apps that are just running in the background that you haven’t used yet, still, it’s a great feature.
  • Face Unlock – This is a cool feature that I didn’t get to try as it wasn’t in the beta yet, however, when the Android 4.0 is officially released it’s bragging of a facial unlock feature. I’m still not sure whether I’ll like that or not. It doesn’t seem like that would be any easier to unlock your phone than a quick PIN or pattern swype, but I’ll definitely give it a shot when I have the chance.
Bottom line, Icecream Sandwich is a GREAT upgrade to the Android Operating System. Things are much more streamlined and integrated with all of Google’s products. It seems like everywhere I went things were a little different and a little more user friendly. I can’t wait until the official upgrade rolls out for my phone.
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