Sunday, May 8, 2016

My New Tablet: Galaxy Tab S2

So, based on the last time I switched tablets, it seems like a 2 year span is about the life expectancy of a good tablet for me. I enjoyed my Nexus 7 over the past 2 years but over the past few weeks I started feeling the particular there was an issue where the screen would become unresponsive and need to be reset to function properly. I decided that I would begin to look at what options were available- apparently 7 inch tablets have become a rarity in the last 2 years. I suppose it's not surprising with the phablets. I mean, who would carry a 6 inch phone then a 7 inch tablet?

I did a lot of research and had ruled out the Galaxy Tab S2 very early in the process. Verizon offered a 9.7 inch version that was entirely too large for me to consider. There was a 8.0 version but it was wifi only. But then, just as I was mapping out a wifi-only strategy (which included considering a mobile hotspot), I stumbled on an unlocked version of the S2 8.0 that could, according to reviews, work on AT&T. That could still work because even though I'm on Verizon (I switched for the Droid Pro and original Galaxy Tab back in 2010) Dean is still on AT&T with a USPS discount to boot. In fact, I had already clicked the button for the wifi-only version when I saw the Unlocked international version under my recommendations. By the time I did all the research on the unlocked version the wifi version had already shipped (it arrived this morning and it's heading back tomorrow). 

The Tab was meant to arrive on Saturday so of course on Friday I went to Best Buy to get my hands on the wifi version to see what it felt like in hand.! I ended up buying an amazing case in Champagne (I know!! I totally didn't go with Black!) and a screen protector. 

Super-thin Galaxy Tab S2 8.0

We had planned to go to get the AT&T store yesterday evening to get the sim card I needed. We got there, got the sim, got the bars but not the mobile data connection...maddeningly the lady at the store had no idea what APN settings even were so not much help on that front. One of the top reviews on Amazon directed me to change my APN settings but even trying that didn't help. This morning I finally gave in a called AT&T tech support (here's a tip- the tech support on the phone is *always* more robust that in-store. Save yourself a trip). For those who have the same issue, let me share the wealth:

Instead of nxgenphone, use broadband. That's it. Seriously. So annoying the amount of time I wasted not knowing that. 

So, my initial impressions of the Tab S2 are very favorable. It's snappy, snazzy and very low profile. Even the case was thoughtfully designed- snapping onto the back to keep the thickness at a minimum. So far I think the Tab is going to be a very nice successor to my Nexus 7!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Project: Courtyard Creation (a.k.a Delightful Driveway)

One of the best features of our home is the large side-driveway that can hold up to 9 cars (we know because during parties we've done it!). When we first saw the home I imagined a 'courtyard' area.

It was love at first sight! 

Once we moved in and started doing projects it didn't take long for me to remember the grand plans I had for the garage area. The first thing Dean did was to stain the fence a lovely shade of red. My next plan was to paint the garage door- the white doors were blindingly so and made it almost uncomfortable to sit next to in the daylight. I initially planned on painting them black but after doing a cut-and-paste rendering, I decided against it:

A bit too dark, even with my budget rendering skills...

Last night Dean and I went to Lowe's and found a lovely shade of tan that struck the perfect balance. I spent 4 hours painting this morning, then ended with some finishing touches- magnetic carriage gate hardware and some planters. The end result:

Voila! Even with our cars parked in the driveway we still have a decent sized courtyard!