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Flying Tonight
For the last two or three weeks, I've been battling the Black Dog. Those who know me well know that I suffer from chronic depression with acute patches. Those who meet me fleetingly find this hard to credit, since I do a damned good job of hiding it and acting like a happy bear.

But anyway, the last few weeks have been tough on the old emotional front. And one of the the things I do when I'm low is treat myself to things – partly on the “I'm worth it” principle, and partly because it's a pretty nifty distraction.

So a fortnight ago I eschewed morning service in favour of worshipping in the lingerie department at Matalan. I came away with all the knickers I might possibly need for my holiday in October. And since it wasn't yet lunchtime, I wandered into Comet next door.

A few months back I looked at the market in Tablets (that's digital ones, not large quantities of paracetemol). I didn't want an ipad – I've never had an apple product and don't plan on starting now – but the growing collection of android devices quietly seeping onto the market were interesting. And Comet had a few on display. To my utter astonishment, I found I could actually use the capacitive screen for typing on.

It proved a useful distraction: for the next few days I amused myself browsing in the stores and online, seeing what was available and what was nice to use. I also gave a great deal of thought to what I might actually use one for, and therefore which features and hardware would be of value.

And I fell in love. Not, as you might think, with the highest spec, biggest, newest thing on the market. I fell in love with the htc Flyer. It's a 7 inch tablet, with 3g as well as wifi, 32gb memory plus micro-sd expansion slot, running android 2.2 rather than the tablet-specific android 3, but with htc's 'sense' overlay.

The only downside was the price. By the end of the week, I'd convinced myself it was overpriced, being at the very top of the price range. I persuaded myself that the best thing would be to wait till either something better came out or the price dropped.

Great plan. Except that on Friday evening, Amazon launched a one off weekend-only offer reducing the price by £120. I decided the universe was trying to tell me something, and with relatives holding my paw on Saturday last I placed the order. (I still have to actually pay the credit bill, but the money is in my account!)

The Flyer arrived on Monday, and I've spent the last week playing with it, setting it up, filling it with things I will find Useful, removing things that turn out not to be Useful, and generally having fun.

So... impressions. I am surprised at how easy the capacitive screen is to work with. This bodes well for when (if?) Nokia release the N9 in the UK. Indeed, it's faintly alarming: I keep the haptic feedback turned on, and often find that I don't actually touch the screen – the heat from my finger is enough to trigger the response (I have very hot hands!) It feels almost alive as a result.

The htc sense UI is lovely to use. Most of its gestures seem to be some form of swipe – though I know Nokia has now claimed that (and I think Apple are trying to patent it!) I have 8 homescreens, now all suitably stuffed with, well, with stuff. It reads email, collects my friends stream from twitter, keeps me logged in to google-talk (Still looking for a google+ invite!) The screen is bright and clear – amazing for viewing video on, and I have an account now for the bookstore associated with the reader software, and even one for htc Watch film store. The 'live wallpaper' burns battery, but some of them are beautiful. In my usual style I shall collect a few and change them with the seasons. And I determined that the Flyer is not for work, so he doesn't have my work diary. Friends and fun only, please, as he'll be my companion in my leisure time and holidays.

The android market is mature and full of stuff. I have eschewed fart apps, but found plenty of utilities and even a few games to keep me amused: I'm an Angry Birds addict (want one of those cuddly toys!) I found a way to print stuff directly to my printer, and am currently struggling with the settings to access my network drive over the wifi. I have a Bible, daily reader, daily prayer cycle, and other personal stuff. The Tumblr app will let me post direct to my tumblr account where-ever I go, and I found something which will resize images so I don't have to post them full-size over 3g.

The location services work pretty well: my back garden recorded as being in the Chinese takeaway – which was off by about 10 yards. Inside the house it doesn't work so well, but then the house is made of granite.

The Flyer's “Killer feature” is the capacitive pen. This enables you to scribble notes and draw things. Well, in my case to doodle. There's a selection of pens from highlighter to calligraphy, taking in paintbrushes, pencils etc. It can be used in the note-taking application, the reader (for notes in the margins) and on photos (for putting Hitler-style moustaches on your friends). If you want to use it on anything else, it automatically takes a screenshot of what you're looking at, and saves it as an image for you to write on. And it links what you've scribbled to your calendar – so you can find stuff by “I wrote that last Thursday” if you get so many notes you can't sort them. I'm not sure how much use it will have in the long term, but it's certainly fun. And will be good for photos when I'm on holiday. (I've also downloaded the touchnote app for turning your photos into hard postcards.)

If I get really bored, I will get some screenshots and upload them for you. This was my first attempt with the 'notepad'.

I continue to play. I can't say the Flyer has cured this particular bout of depression, though he has kept me occupied and amused enough to be less aware of it. And if I want to find a cliff, the 'car panel sat nav' will get me there safely!

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Sounds like a really cool toy. Your technical expertise makes me feel massive inadequate though; you're so saavy!

Retail therapy is often a good distraction (and safer for the figure than chocolate, if not safe for the wallet).

Hope that this bout passes soon. You've loads of strength to be able to work through it while you have it. I simply cannot handle depression, it eviscerates me emotionally. I'll take my aches and pains over that any day.

Where are you going for holiday in October?

Yes, it is a really cool toy. I'm not even going to pretend it will make me more productive for work! I tend to use retail therapy at a particular point in a depression patch - too soon is a waste, too late and even shopping won't lift me. This time was pretty well spot on. Thank you Amazon!

You can keep your aches and pains, at least I can still (mostly) work through this. Which is necessary given what I spend on retail therapy!

The October holiday (timed for "that" birthday) will be a cruise. I shall be in denial about getting older, Or on de-nile, at least. :D

It does sound like a lovely toy! My husband, my daughter and I all have relatively new smartphones (my husband's is the newest, he only got it on Friday), which we are enjoying playing with and finding out what they can do. I am also enjoying having a contract for the first time, and being able to text without thinking about it!

I do hope you feel better soon.

New toys are such fun. I feel a little guilty about spending so much money on myself, but it's the sort of thing that enables me to keep on doing what I do.

I get hours - week, months - of fun out of something like that. I hope you all enjoy your new phones. I'd hate to be in a space where I worried about stuff like that. Have fun.

And thanks for the good wishes. I'm still in work which is an improvement on last time. Each battle I get a little stronger and more capable at beating it. (mostly)

I think one does. I also think - judging not only from personal experience but from the experience of various friends - that one tends to "outgrow" it during one's 40s, quite why that should be I don't know. Perhaps one's brain chemistry changes slightly as one ages?

Sadly, I'm about to leave my 40s, so can't claim that. I have lots of practice at managing it, and have dealt with most of the 'stuff' that fuels it, so it is largely chemical. Mind, the Doctor has been mucking around with my hormones, so that's not helping. I look forward to being an old lady and past all that!

Yes, that is the one thing that is nice about being "over the hill"! Not so great while it's happening, but once it has - bliss!

The new toy sounds pretty nifty. But you feeling better is the important thing here.

Oh, and stay away from cliffs.

Kind of hard to avoid cliffs where I live. But I have a nice new toy to distract me. And yes, slowly feeling better: a break from work would help. If only!

Yeah, I gather cliffs are rather commonplace in your part of the world. But steer clear anyway.

And feel better.

And enjoy the toy.

Maybe you could tell work you have to go to Australia - to gloat about the (craptacular) Ashes result or something. They'd be sure to believe that.

I am waiting for permission to take a day off for a pamper day. I fear travelling to Australia would be beyond my leave entitlement. Good fun, tough.

Feel better soon, not sure it helps but you mean very much to me. *hugs*
As for geek-ish stuff, this was written on an Archos 70 7" Android pad.. ;) just buy your pad and enjoy it. :D

I looked at the Archos, but it didn't quite have what I wanted. Are you enjoying it?

And hugs always help. ;)

For my purposes its working fine, it just hangs on the wifi at home and I use it for browsing around the net not much else but it can do much more if needed. :)

I wanted one with 3g that can leave home and still connect. :-)

You had me reading up until "bible" and "prayer times"

What kind of geek believes in this non-sense?

Re: You had me reading up until "bible" and "prayer times"

The sort that is respectful of other people's beliefs and opinions. :)

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