Unique Phone Apps

I owned a iPhone for 3 years in Cuenca and recently sold my iPhone 4s and purchased the Google Nexus 5 which is an Android device. I strive to make this blog Platform agnostic so in all the Apps listed below run on both platforms (Android, IOS )

Below are some unique apps that I use everyday.

  • Pocket Casts – Everyday I spend about 90 minutes listening to news and geek shows (i.e. NBC Nightly News, Fresh Air, Android App Arena)
  • Duolingo – I try and spend 10 minutes a day brushing up on my Spanish vocabulary and phrases. The best part of this program is that you can speak the words into your phone for feedback.
  • Amazon Cloud Drive–  Someone asked me the other day to show them a picture of a cockatoo I owned while liveing in The States. No need to tie up any spance on your phone memory. Amazon Cloud Drives gives you unlimited storage. You do have to have a Amazon Prime Subscription.
  • IMDB – Internet Movie Database is owned by Amazon. Being retired gives me more time to watch TV and Movies. Yesterday, whicle watching a Danish movie I could look up the actor’s other credits on the App.
  • MagicJack– Free North American Phone Number. You need to buy the MJ for incoming calls but you can make unlimited outgoingphone calls using the App on your Smartphone.
  • Moves – How far did you walk last Tuesday, last week, last month. Every step is recorded on the Moves app. For me its vital because I’m 15 years into a Total Hip Replacement and need to limit my walking to less than 25 miles a week.

What are your Unique Apps?



Vendors Of Cuenca Ecuador


I love walking the streets of Cuenca with my HD Camcorder.  I have said many times that Cuenca reminds me of my childhood Brooklyn, New York in the 1950’s.  I especially enjoy the sales pitch of the vendors when they bellow their bargains out in a song.

Today was especially crowded because of the “first communions” in El Centro.  Plenty of traffic and many bus routes had to be diverted. Of course my favorite part of the walk is when I can use my newly acquired Spanish to bargain with the street vendors.


This is repost of August 2012 entry.

Parque Calderon, Cuenca, Ec.


I have been editing videos for many years.  The ratio is often 1:20. Which means you have to shoot 20 minutes of video to get 1 minute of edited video.  I got lucky a couple of weeks ago at Parque Calderon.  The music, the light, the soldiers were all in the right place.  Pay close attention to 7 seconds into the video and 43 seconds into the video.  Very South American and very touching.

Note: This is a repost of a May 2012 post. The music and video is still one of my favorites

Android 5.0

Lollipop Lollipop
Oh Lolli Lolli Lolli
Lollipop Lollipop
Oh Lolli Lolli Lolli
Lollipop Lollipop
Oh Lolli Lolli Lolli
Lollipop *POP*

Consider yourself lucky that you did not hear me sing the song. I installed Lollipop 5.0, the new Android Operating System, for my Nexus 5 Smartphone yesterday. Sometimes operating systems don’t change things much or worse cause major problems with apps. So far Lollipop has been near perfect with only one App out of 168 not working.

Here are some of the benefits I experienced immediately with the new OS

  • Longer battery life – I now last more than a day on a charge
  • Faster loading of Apps
  • Animation and New Fonts make the screen easier to read
  • The control panel is now intuitive like the iPhone
  • Customized notifications

If you own a Nexus device then you should have or will shortly be notified of the new Lollipop download. Go for it- its a lot of fun.



Blogs, Websites & Directories

When I first arrived in Cuenca 3.5 + years ago you could count the number of blogs on one hand and have a finger or two left over. Now there are hundreds. It’s an adventure just to keep up with a couple of them. There are some well done directories. I’ve listed three of the top ones.

Looking at these 3 sites will save you time and introduce you to some new additions.

Zero Lat Living


Xpadorian Blogs


Ecuador Expat Bloggers


Flickr Morning Routine

I use Flickr as my main source of storing photos and videos. I have been a member since 2003 and have developed a social network of friends. I also use Flickr as a source of information on various photography and animal groups.

Each morning I see some of the creative shots my Flickr Friends post. Below is a short video of their work with a few of my photos.

10 URLs That Every Google User Should Know

Digital Inspiration is one of my favorite sites for interesting and time saving geek stuff.  On Oct 10th  he posted 10 urls that every Google User should know. They are all interesting but my two favorite were location and search history. It’s a little creepy and you can turn off permissions but below is my walking data from Nov.6th.Google_Location_history


What Electronics Should You Bring To Ecuador ( Part 6 )

It’s now a year since I wrote Part 5 and my wife and I have lived in Ecuador for 3.5 years.  This post is largely subjective based on my usage and mistakes in Cuenca.

This advice is meant for those on a limited budget and not bringing a container to Ecuador. I am going to start with the most important device and work by way down to the small items that you can’t find or that are expensive in Ecuador.

Smartphone: Invest in an unlocked Nexus 6 or iPhone 6+. These are relatively large phones sometimes called Phablets but they will be your best techonology friend in Ecuador. I also suggest you buy a data plan. In Cuneca I pay $32 a month for minutes and data and never run out of either one.  Below are some uses other than voice and texting.

  • Maps and directions
  • Photo and video ( I haven’t used my expensive Canon in 4 months)
  • Easy Taxi – requesting taxis at night and in bad weather
  • Learning Spanish (Translate, SpanishDict, Duolingo)
  • Music listening ( Amazon complete music library)
  • Netflix (watching movies)
  • Playing Bridge

Tablet: I have the iPad Mini w/ retina screen but I can highly recommend the Nexus 7. I recommend the larger tablets ( The iPad Air is an excellent choice) if you are not going to bring your computer.  I’m sticking to my recommendation of not bringing a computer if you don’t need it for business or serious photo/video editing. A large tablet with a bluetooth keyboard will be powerful and very portable.

Streaming Boxes: These hockey puck  devices will be your night time companions if you enjoy watching movies and TV series. You can’t go wrong with the ones below:

  • Apple TV
  • Roku 3
  • Amazon Fire TV

Basically you can watch TV series and movies with these devices connected to your TV. They also have the added advantage of wirelessly connecting some of your devices ( computer, iphone tablet ) wirellessly to your TV. Important note ***. To fully utilize these services you need to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) Router. I use the Sabai Cisco router because of the excellent technical support. I go to great lengths to describe the challenges of watching TV/Movies in Ecuador. I recommend using the search facility on this blog and typing in “VPN” and you will see several posts with recommendations.

Google just came out with their own streaming box called Nexus Player but I haven’t seen enough reviews to recommend buying that device.

Miscellaneous recommendations:

  • Netflix subscription- $9 per month – Invaluable
  • Amazon Prime subscription $8.25 per month – (Music, Movies, Books, Unlimited Photo Storage(
  • Bluetooth keyboard for your tablet or smarthone
  • Thumb drives (32 gb) for transferring information or bring data to be printed
  • VPN subscription  – I use Strong VPN and it’s about $8 a month
  • Skype subscription – Free Video Calls to other Skype users.
  • MagicJack – Practically free phone calls to any cell or landline in the U.S.

Some of the subscribers of this blog have great success with Ooma. It’s  worth a look for cheap and dependable calls back to the U.S.

Again this are my recommendations based on my experience. I haven’t used my DVD player in 2 months and my camera in 4 months.  Save the room in your suitcases for good sheets and towels  🙂


streaming_media_boxes_-_Google_Search Phablet_-_Google_Search ipad_-_Google_Search

This And That

Attention All Netflix Users: Need a recommendation for a good movie tonight. Then run, don’t walk to What’s On Netflix and get your recommendation from IMDB or RottenTomatoes. Not foolproof but a good start.



An excellent article from the Google Security Blog –

Behind enemy lines in our war against account hijackers

The above link is an excellent read and gives easy to follow steps to make your account more secure.