The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 Is Worthy Alternative if You Hate Apple

Photos by Cory Garcia
As Web Editor, my chief interest is in how our website looks. (iPad Mini 2 on the left, Galaxy Tab S 8.4 on the right)
If you've been hesitating in getting into the tablet game, heed this advice: Just give in. A tablet computer may not change your life, but they're incredibly useful devices that can really enhance your recreational time.

It's hard to believe now, given the fact that tablets are damn near everywhere in society, that when the iPad was unveiled, a lot of people scoffed and said no one would be interested in it. Now non-tablet devices are trying to rip off the beauty that is touchscreen computing, because what good is technology if it's not making your operating system needlessly complicated?

Your best bet is to stick with actual, honest-to-God, "this is what they're created to do" tablets. An even better bet is to stick to the smaller models; what you lose in screen size you gain in reduced weight, which equals less arm strain and makes for a more enjoyable experience.

While the iPad may be the name that everyone knows in tablets, some folks just aren't interested, and that's fine. While in the broad strokes, iOS is a boon for those who want a system that just works (when Apple isn't breaking it themselves), some people just aren't interested in being tied into the Apple ecosystem.

Well, good news: If you're the type who's more at home with Android, there's a lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.

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Devil Dog Six Merely Places on Script But Wins on Production

Photo credit: Paige Kiliany
(l to r) Sam Flash ,Travis Ammons, Sammi Sicinski, Cheryl Tanner, Jarred Tettey and Bradley Winkler in Devil Dog Six

The set up:

Move over War Horse, there's a new pony in town and this one ain't gonna tug manipulatively on your heart strings in Walt Disney tear-jerky fashion. In fact, this horse is aiming to make you take pause and actually think about real human issues and emotions. Devil Dog Six, the new play by Fengar Gael set in the world of competitive horseracing uses the racetrack to examine themes of ambition, competition, ethics and integrity. And oh, yeah, there's even some bigotry and misogyny thrown in for good measure.

Commissioned by the InterAct Theatre of Philadelphia through the National New Play Network, Devil Dog Six premiered in San Diego and was awarded the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding New Play.

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Nashville Hurricane: Great Guitar Picking & 4 Memorable Characters All Delivered by One Man

Photo courtesy of Chase Padgett
Chase Padgett as Henry in Nashville Hurricane
The set-up:

If you've spent any time following the Fringe Festival circuit in North America, you're probably already aware of the marvel that is the multi-talented Chase Padgett. He acts, he sings, he plays guitar, he writes and he's produced two award-winning solo Fringe shows over the last four years. His first hit in 2011, 6 Guitars, put Padgett onstage with only a guitar and speaker in order to portray six different characters, each a musician of a different genre talking about and playing their style of music.

The wonderfully comedic effect instantly made the show a hit with audiences and critics alike and went on to extended runs, sold out shows and many awards along the way. It's never easy to follow up a blockbuster hit, and Padgett stumbled a bit with his next Fringe offering, a two-hander with his brother that failed to connect. But come 2013 at the Calgary Fringe Festival, Padgett was back swinging when he premiered his one man show, Nashville Hurricane, about a young musical prodigy and the dark side of show business. I had the pleasure of seeing and reviewing that inaugural production and was delighted (along with that city's other theater critics) to nominate the show for our annual theater awards.

Since then, Nashville Hurricane has grown from a 60 to a 75 minute show and has toured extensively throughout North America accumulating a dragnet of awards along the way including Best of the Fringe in Orlando Winnipeg, Vancouver and Edmonton.

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We Need to Talk About How We Talk About White Privilege

Photo by Matty Ring
What do you think of when you get pulled over?
White privilege. With the exception of "Kim Kardashian," there is no other two word phrase that gets people frothing at the mouth in irrationality quicker than those two. The phrase "white privilege" hits a switch in certain individuals and turns them from normal, friendly people you don't mind knowing on Facebook to... well... listen, this blog isn't about name-calling, so let's just say that become less-friendly.

This isn't about shaming one side of the debate, either. Both sides, those who believe in white privilege and those who don't, can be just as mean-spirited, snarky and dismissive as the other.

Which is a bummer, because it's absolutely a discussion worth having.

Because white privilege does exist, and it's never going to go away if we don't talk about it.

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4 Teenage Activities That Technology is Making Disappear

Photo by Saad Faruque
"Leave the house? Why?"
Technology has always altered the ways in which we communicate with one another and entertain ourselves, but those changes are accelerating and dramatically affecting the ways that we socialize. Much has been said about how social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are transforming the ways in which we communicate, and it's clear that's true. But there are other effects that our increasing reliance on the Internet as a socialization tool is having on our culture. These trends are obvious everywhere, but especially when it comes to social customs among young people.

4. Malls may disappear, and the Internet is partially to blame.

I never thought of myself as a mall rat when I was a teenager back in the '80s, but I guess my friends and I spent a lot of time hanging out in Houston malls (such as Sharpstown and Memorial City) way back then. The mall was a destination, a place to go when we wanted to get out of our houses, girl watch, and play some arcade games. Sure, we'd occasionally shop at places like the original Dream Merchant in Sharpstown Mall. But for the most part, we went to malls as a way to socialize, and a way to interact with other teenagers.

Malls were sort of their own world. A place where adult authority was still present, but somehow seemed diminished. I think the only time I ever felt the stern hand of the adult world in an '80s shopping mall was when my group of pals ran into an older friend of my mother, and she gave me grief for wearing an obscene Circle Jerks shirt. I don't think we were alone. Malls were an important part of teenage life for decades.

But malls are in trouble these days. There are estimates that of the roughly 1,100 active malls around currently, about half will close over the next 20 years. Teenagers just don't seem to view the mall as the center of their universes anymore.

There are a lot of reasons for this phenomena, ranging from consumers buying online more and more to the death of certain types of retailers once common to shopping malls. Which bring us to...

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The Doubleclicks: Their Music Is About More Than Being Nerds

Chuck Cook Photography
The Doubleclicks performing at Comicpalooza 2014

In what will likely be their only appearances in Texas this year, musician duo The Doubleclicks (aka sisters Angela Webber and Aubrey Webber) performed at Comicpalooza this past Saturday and Sunday. The duo writes and performs songs with a geeky bent. They're kind of like the female version of Paul and Storm.

Aubrey plays cello while Angela swaps back and forth between instruments as varied as an acoustic guitar and an adorable, modified B. Meowsic keyboard that makes kitty cat noises.

While their songs are ostensibly fun songs about velociraptors and annoying creeps who scream out "Freebird!", there are messages about how to treat fellow humans. For example, no one wants to pay good money for concert tickets and have their experience disrupted by a drunk, screaming idiot.

The Doubleclicks had an unexpected viral hit on their hands with a song with a more overt message. The music video for "Nothing To Prove" has become an anthem for women who participate in traditionally male-dominated interests and hobbies, such as reading science fiction, playing video games and collecting comic books. The cosplay phenomenon, amongst other things, has led misogynistic types to question whether women are "really" into such things, suggesting that these hobbies are some kind of attention-seeking behavior.

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Hack Your Resolution: 5 Apps, Tips and Tricks for an Awesome 2014

Categories: Online

Photo by Flickr user Artis Rams
Do you make New Year's Resolutions? What are they? To stop being late for work? To remember to floss every night? To read less Internet during the day?

Here's a little secret you might not know about me: I LOVE productivity tools. The Millennial word is "lifehacking," but call it whatever you want: self-improvement, Getting Things Done, whatever. Thanks to modern technology, we have more apps and tools than ever to help us on our journey to becoming better human beings.

Below are some of my favorite apps, hacks, tips and tricks to making your resolutions really work. Got more? Leave 'em in the comments.

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The Best Gets Better: Check Out Faster, Sleeker Houston Press Best Of App

Categories: Online

Want to know where to go and what to do in Houston? Your essential mobile guide -- also known as our Best Of app -- just got better. You already know you can count on the Best Of app to offer restaurant, shopping and nightlife recommendations from Houston Press' expert critics. Now the app has been redesigned to be faster, sleeker, and packed with even more carefully curated local content. Not only can you find the best burger or martini in town, you can scan critics' picks and other recommended options in those and dozens of other categories. And now that we've combined our Best Of database with our comprehensive local listings, you can always find something nearby. Wherever you are in Houston, the Best Of app is your window to what's around you. It's fast, it's fun, and it's still free. Download it today.

A Houston Web Awards Daily Deal for You

Categories: Online

It's time for us to host our third annual Houston Web Awards honoring the best online practitioners in the Houston area - and now we're making it even easier for you to attend with our Voice Daily Deal cutting the ticket price in half.

Starting today (June 17) through Thursday, our deal offers you a chance to get a $20 ticket for just $10.

This year's festivities will be at the House of Dereon Media Center, 2204 Crawford, Thursday June 27 from 7-10 p.m. Besides the awards, your ticket gets you complimentary drinks. .

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Pine Valley Lives: All My Children Returns As an Online Soap

In a little over a month, Netflix is going to hit a switch in a room somewhere and a new season of Arrested Development is going to be available to watch. It's an interesting experiment that Netflix is attempting, one that's been written about and overanalyzed since the moment it was announced.

A less popular but more interesting experiment begins online next Monday. It involves a show that, much like Arrested Development, featured silly characters in increasingly absurd situations and had a cult following made up of fans who were outraged when they found out their favorite show was going away.

And that's pretty much where the similarities end.

Starting Monday, All My Children returns as an online-only soap opera, and I don't know how I feel about this.

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