Google Rewards is an Invasion of Privacy That You Agreed To

Google Rewards is an Android app that pays you to take surveys. Most of the payouts range from $0.05 all the way up to $1.00, just for taking simple surveys. But as the old adage goes, if you're not paying for the product, you are the product.
Here's how the story goes: I take my lunch break and walk to a local restaurant, on my way I change my mind and decide that I want Jimmy John's, so I change my path and walk to Jimmy John's, grab my Turkey Tom (no tomato) and then walk back to my office. A few minutes later I get a notification of a new survey available.

I answer the survey and get my few cents reward, but not without getting the feeling that Big Brother Google is up to something. It's known that Google is trying to improve Google Maps walking paths with it's Virtual Reality MMO Ingress, and this is the same vein. Since I walked to Jimmy Johns an unusual way, Google wants to know that route.

Google says this data is anonymized, which very well may be but in the end Google got the data it wants, another walking route to my local Jimmy John's.


Awesome Android App: FitNotes

FitNotes is a fitness app aimed at weight lifting/body building. You can track number of reps on individual exercises, view progress graphs, record body weight, even keep notes about the day. FitNotes - Today
Custom Exercises

One of the great things about FitNotes is the ability to create custom exercises. The default set exercises has a lot of the basics but I've found that I needed to add a few exercises. When you add an exercise you can specify the name, weight increments, and even notes about that exercise. Each exercise keeps track of reps, and weight. If you set a new maximum weight/reps a trophy will appear next to that rep (see below).

FitNotes - Exercise
Rest Timer

One of the handiest features of FitNotes is the rest timer. After you add an exercise you can start a rest timer either automatically or with the click of a button, and this will give you a specific rest period. This is also great for motivation when you hear the alarm go off, you know it's time to lift.
FitNotes - Timer


Must Have Android Apps

Android is great, if you don't like the way a certain app does something, chances are there is an alternative. Here on the my top apps. Some of them replace stock apps and others push the limit of what Android can do.

Note: I use an HTC One (m7)

Replacement Apps

There are many alternatives to these replacement apps but these are the ones I use. All replacement apps free unless stated otherwise.

  • Gallery App - QuickPic
  • Text Message - Google Messenger, QKSMS
  • Lock Screen - AcDisplay
  • Launcher - NovaLauncher (Prime: $4.00)
  • Camera - Google Camera
  • Email - K-9 Mail, Google Inbox
  • Browser - Google Chrome
  • Keyboard - SwiftKey


  • AllCast - Free/$4.99: Broadcast almost anything to your media device (Chromecast, Apple TV)

  • CamScanner - Free/$4.99: Create awesome scanned documents, free with a .edu email address

  • Feedly - Free: Great RSS reader with a web client as well

  • IFTTT - Free: A great tool to automate task with your phone, complete blog post incoming

  • Tasker - $2.99: The single most powerful automation app on Android, easily one of my top 3 apps of all time

  • Microsoft Office Mobile - Free: It's Microsoft Office on your phone!

  • MX Player - Free/$5.99: A great media player than can play most any format and has awesome controls!

  • Pocket - Free: Like InstaPaper this app saves blog post, websites, etc for later reading

  • Pocket Casts - $3.99: A great podcast player with a lot of podcast built in and the ability to add RSS feeds

  • Pushbullet Free: One of the greatest apps for use between phone and computer. Copy links, text, media between your phone and computer and vise versa

  • Google Opinion Rewards - Free: Get paid to take surveys, has paid for a lot of my apps

  • SimpleNote - Free: My go-to note taking app, simple interface is key here


  • Banner Saga - $4.99: A great RPG now on your phone, very reminisant of early Fallout games
  • Breach and Clear - $0.99: Play as various special forces units and take down enemies with tactical gameplay
  • Godville - Free: A halarious RPG with a twist!
  • Retry - Free: Fly a plane much like Flappy Birds
  • Rotate - Free: Shoot a ball from a rotating wheel to another rotating wheel, seems easy enough right?

Widgets & Customization

  • Arcus - Free/$2.73: Very detailed weather widget, can take up a whole page
  • EventFlow Agenda - Free: A really minimal calendar widget, looks great on large screens
  • Muzei - Free: Custom backgrounds updated daily with lots of plugins, I use the NASA image of the day plugin
  • Power Toggles - Free: Control almost all of your settings right from a widget
  • TeslaUnread Plugin - Free: iOS style notificaions on the app icon
  • UCCW - Free: Awesome widget creator, the sky is the limit
  • WidgetLocker - $2.99: Create the lock screen of your dreams with widgets, passwords, patter locks, and much more
  • ZooperWidgets - Free/$2.49: Like UCCW create awesome custom widgets