5 Apps That Made Me Love My Android Phone Again

I like Android. I really do. But my phone, the Samsung Fascinate, has some little niggling issues, and over time little niggling issues have added up to some serious annoyances with using my phone. I hate the Phone app, the Messages app, the Camera app—basically all of the native applications don’t work right.

Fortunately, the very best thing about Android is that there’s virtually nothing about it you can’t change. At one point I rooted my phone and installed a whole custom operating system, but after never finding one I liked that was reliable and didn’t kill my battery, I switched back to the original settings. Then, one by one, I started to find perfect replacement applications for all the things I hated, to the point where my phone is now totally different than it used to be in the best possible way.

‘Twas but five applications, all free, that made such a difference. Here they are.

launcherproHome Screen: LauncherPro

By default, my home screen had a moving wallpaper, ugly icons, and weird widgets and navigation. LauncherPro replaced those with a clean, simple layout with a classy dock at the bottom, a scrolling list of apps, and settings so I could make the home screen exactly as I wanted it. I’m a glutton for simplicity and continuity, and LauncherPro brings both. Plus, it’s actually a lot faster than the native home screen on most Android phones.

dialeronePhone: DialerOne

Samsung’s dialer is awful: Ugly, awkward to use, and nearly impossible to integrate in any meaningful way with contacts. Getting to recent calls takes too long, trying to type a contact’s name to dial their number rarely works, and did I mention it’s ugly? DialerOne does better, splitting the screen between recent calls and a keypad, and letting you tap just once to scroll through all your recent calls. Or, start typing the name of a contact and a constantly-updating list of people you might want to call shows up. Getting to your favorite people is easy too, which is nice because Claire accounts for like 70% of my phone calls. DialerOne just, simply, works in a way the standard dialer doesn’t.

gosmsMessages: GO SMS

I didn’t have more than an aesthetic issue with the standard messaging application, but once I started using GO SMS I realized everything I was missing.  GO SMS does great with canned responses (so you can say “I’m running late, on my way”, which I say about 40 times a day, in one tap), pop-up notifications, and more. You can change everything about the look and feel, and make it as powerful or as simple as you like. GO SMS has become the one app I’ll recommend to literally everyone who has an Android phone.

lightboxCamera: Lightbox

My biggest point of iPhone envy has long been Instagram. Not because of the social networking features of the app, but because I love the idea of an easy way to take, alter in cool ways, and share photos so they live somewhere other than on your phone. That’s what Lightbox, a new (like today new) application for Android, is all about. You sign up for an account, and you can take pictures, apply effects, and share them on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Foursquare. The best part is, though, the running gallery of your photos that’s available on the Web at all times. It’s a gorgeous application (something Android could use more of), and a lot of fun to use.

swypeKeyboard: Swype

I complained on Twitter the other day that I hated the Android keyboard. I don’t always hate it, but it’s just not a great solution, for one-handed typing in particular. “Try Swype!” was the most common response I got, so I decided to give it a shot, and man is it awesome. Instead of tapping to spell words, Swype has you draw a trail from letter to letter, and figures out what word you’re tracing. It’s easy to do with one hand, its predictive abilities are amazing, and after only a couple of days I’m already typing faster than I ever have before.

All of these apps can easily replace their default counterparts (except Lightbox, as best I can tell). After you download, say, Launcher Pro, the next time you hit the home button a menu will pop up, asking which app you want to use, the stock Launcher or Launcher Pro. Check the “make this default” button, and then tap Launcher Pro. From then on, it’ll be the thing that launches every time you hit the home button.

I haven’t noticed anything in the way of instability or extra battery drain with any of these applications, and they all run seamlessly with the rest of Android. The five apps have made my phone make more sense, look nicer, and work much more like what I want it to. I got a new phone, without spending a nickel. Can’t complain about that, can I?

Flick and Share: An Easy Way to Share and Download Photos

Last weekend, I was at a wedding. I took some pictures at this wedding, some pictures that other people want to see. That shouldn’t be such a hassle, but who knew that sending someone 50 pictures would be such a pain? In addition to uploading them to wherever else I want them to be, like Flickr or Picasa, I have to zip them up, upload them to FileDropper or Dropbox, send the link to everyone, explain to them what FileDropper is and that no, it won’t break your computer, it’s just downloading images, and then re-upload them all when the link inevitably expires. I wish I were exaggerating for effect here, but that’s happened to me more than a few times.

flickshare

That’s why I like the idea of Flick and Share, an application I found via a post on The Next Web. Basically what it does is hook into your Flickr account, and let you designate sets of photos that can be downloaded in one click. You tell Flick and Share which sets you want to be available for download, and then you get a link that you can share. All people have to do is click that link (and they can’t access this page without the link), and they can download all the photos in one click.

It’s really only a useful application if you’re already uploading photos to Flickr—otherwise, it’s essentially the same amount of steps as any other option. But I do tend to upload photos to Flickr, so having a way to pull them all together for download is excellent. (You can already download photos from Flickr, but only one at a time, and downloading a photo in its original resolution takes like seven clicks.) It’s a nice-looking and simple app, and as a Flickr user I hope Flickr buys it and integrates it so it’ll stick around.

Why I Switched from Evernote to Simplenote

I’ve written 1,000 or so posts on this site over the last few years, and the most popular topic I’ve written about, both in number of times I’ve covered it and the traffic it’s brought here to Digitizd, is Evernote. With good reason, too: It’s the app I’ve used most in the last few years, the one app that I truly couldn’t live without. But this weekend, I canceled my Evernote subscription, moved all my notes out, and uninstalled the various apps. I’m now a Simplenote user, and I should apologize in advance for the amount I’ll likely be shilling for Simplenote in the future.

I want to clarify from the get-go that Evernote was, is, and will likely continue to be, awesome. It’s a fantastic app, the Evernote crew is incredibly smart and fast-moving, and they’re in a better position than ever to be your external brain. It’s just, for me, not the right fit anymore.

The way I used Evernote, and now use Simplenote, is fairly simple – it’s my inbox for everything. Things I think of that I should do get notes. Emails I need to deal with in a way other than writing back get notes. Blog post ideas get notes. Meeting minutes get notes. If it’s not a specific task, or an email, or an appointment (Remember the Milk, Gmail, and Google Calendar, respectively, handle those), odds are good it lived in Evernote (and just got moved to Simplenote). I don’t store tons of photos, or files—Evernote’s great for that, and Simplenote can’t do it at all—it’s just a lot of text, coming from a lot of places.

Just Take Notes

For simple, pure note-taking, Simplenote’s got a bunch of advantages over Evernote. Taking a note, for instance, is ludicrously simple: Just type something. There’s no saving, no entering a title, nothing. You can add a tag if you want to, but that’s simple too. Evernote’s not difficult, but there are several more steps involved, especially if you’re using their mobile apps. I do an inordinate amount of red-light-note-taking, and Simplenote is as easy and fast as taking out a piece of paper and scribbling something down, and that’s huge. Everything gets automatically saved and synced, and if I want to write “buy milk,” doing so takes only as long as typing those two words.

Managing your notes is also a no-frills experience, in the best possible way. There are no notebooks to deal with, like in Evernote. You’ve got one, running list of all your notes, sorted either by title or by date modified. The method of finding notes is 100 percent search-based—the search in every Simplenote app is lightning fast, searching as you type so by the time you type the word “cupca” all your cupcake recipes are waiting for you (it’s like Google Instant, re-filtering with every letter you type). You can also filter notes by tag, but search is the way to go here. It feels very unorganized at first, and flies in the face of every inbox-emptying notion in my brain, but in a couple of days using it I’ve been able to both find and edit notes faster. It’s not a system for everyone, but it’s definitely for me.

The spark for my switching to Simplenote was one, relatively minor feature. It’s not exactly mission-critical, but just fits better with how I work. You can choose to pin a note to the top of the list, so it’ll always be the first thing you see. I have two right now: “Links inbox” and “Posts Queue,” which are links I need to check out and articles or subjects I need to write about. Those are always at the top of my list, no matter what other notes I add, and I’ll never need to work to find those notes—one click and I’m editing them. That’s huge, and was by itself about 60 percent of the reason I jumped on the Simplenote train.

Do Other Stuff

Frankly, the “just take notes” feature of Simplenote is the killer app, and I’d guess I’ll only use the other stuff sparingly. But there’s plenty of other stuff, and who am I to complain about other stuff? You can share notes with particular people, or show them publicly on the Web—I’m just about to force my roommate to sign up for Simplenote, so we can share a grocery list and cleaning schedule. You can see old versions of your notes, which is crucial given that the auto-save features mean anything you mess up gets saved instantly.

One other, smaller feature caught my eye: If you use an iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod) device, there’s an option in the Simplenote app to turn any note into a list. When you toggle List mode on, the app takes every line of the note and turns it into a list item, which you can reorder or edit as such. Since I keep things like “Books to Read” and “Gift Ideas” as notes in Simplenote, List mode is a great way to manage those notes better.

Get it Everywhere

 

One of the things I liked most about Evernote was that it was available everywhere. I could take notes, or access them, from my phone, my computer, my iPad, and just about anywhere else I could think of, with or without an Internet connection. Since I relied on Evernote for everything from phone numbers and confirmation numbers to all of my notes for gadget reviews, I needed that. Simplenote does that too, rarely with company-built applications, but always with good ones. Here’s what I use, of the many available options:

With the exception of the $2 or so I paid to remove ads from Flick Notes, and the $19.99 I paid for a yearlong subscription to Simplenote, using it hasn’t cost me a nickel. (Simplenote’s base version is free, supported by unintrusive ads. The $19.99/year buys you more backup versions of each notes, unlimited third-party app usage, Dropbox sync, and more. Plus, it buys me the peace of mind that I’m not going to lose my notes, which is easily worth $20/year.)

Evernote is a wonderful way to organize documents, photos, notes, Web clippings, research, and more. I don’t need all that, and Evernote became too much. I need a fast, frictionless way to take notes, and then an easy way to see or find the notes I took. Evernote is all of those, but Simplenote is better. I needed simple and fast, and Simplenote is exactly that.

Do you use Evernote, or Simplenote, or something else entirely? Tell me about it!

Better Radio With the Internet

I don’t listen to the radio much anymore. I used to listen all the time, to music and talk radio alike; All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, Morning Zoo, and a bunch of other shows were in my regular rotation. I still listen to all of those shows, and more, but I don’t use the radio dials to do it.

There’s an advantage to radio, particularly in its serendipity and continuity. One of the New York City radio stations (I can’t remember which, but I want to say 1010 WINS) has a great tagline: “Give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world.” There’s something to be said for that, for the variety and lean-back experience of radio. But the new technology that’s made me stop using the radio dial – podcasts, mostly, plus a couple of great websites and apps – has its own merit, too.

The advantages of the Internet’s style of listening are twofold, I think: Personalization and On Demand. I can listen to exactly what I want (or at least a much more personally-tuned selection), when I want. I don’t have to wait for Fresh Air to come on anymore, because I just download the podcast. I actually don’t know when it’s on, but I listen to every single episode through its iTunes podcast. There’s no flipping through stations anymore, either – everything I want to listen to is right there waiting for me, whenever I want to listen to it.

The ideal, really, is to find the best of both worlds, or cobble it together from a number of different places. And, actually, I think it’s possible. There are a bunch of apps out there that make it easy to get exactly the content you want, or to find an endless stream of it. Some are just a better way of managing regular radio stations, others are a re-thinking of what a radio station would be. In all, they make for a personalized, lean-wherever experience for listening.

What You Want, When You Want It

In pursuit of finding exactly what you want to listen to, when you want to listen to it, there are a few really good radio options. Slacker is my personal favorite: It lets you listen to stations based on a single song or artist (a la Pandora), but also lets you play single songs or albums, as well as listen to stations curated by genre, or hand-selected by cool bands and DJs. To get all that, though, is $9.99/month. Pandora’s also a great option: Pick a song or artist, and get an endless stream of songs. Rdio is a giant music library, and you can play songs and albums as well.

A new app that has tons of promise in this world is mSpot, which mixes your personal music collection (music you presumably like) with the best of online radio. It matches your music collection with Internet radio stations, helping you find more music like your collection – and it does it automatically, just based on what you upload and listen to.

All Talk

All the apps above are good for music, but what about Car Talk and Glenn Beck fans? For those people, podcasts are really the best imaginable bet. Most radio shows are available as podcasts on iTunes (here’s 15 great podcasts to get you started), and they’re almost always free. Even if you hate iTunes, it’s both the best app with the most complete library of podcasts. You can manage them in DoubleTwist, a great app especially if you have an Android phone. Instacast is a good app for iPhones that lets you automatically download, and Google Listen is a similar one for Android. Generally, though, iTunes is the way to go.

I haven’t used this app myself, but David Pogue’s column in the New York Times this week was about a service called DAR.fm, which essentially acts as a TiVo for the Web. He explains how it works:

You can search, sort, slice and dice those listings any way you want: by genre, by radio station, by search phrase. It’s all here: NPR, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck. Music shows. Talk shows. Religion, sports, technology. Politics by the pound.

You don’t know or care when your show will actually be aired, or on what station. You only know that you’ve requested it. Shortly thereafter, an e-mail message lets you know that your freshly baked show is ready for listening.

The Radio, Only Better

Sometimes, you actually want to listen to the radio. Whether there’s a game on I want to hear, or something big is happening, or I’m just bored and want to zone out for a few hours listening to music, radio is a great medium. But it’s a pain to navigate, not every station is available everywhere, and who the heck knows where ESPN is anyway?

Go Go Gadget Internet! Nearly every radio station out there broadcasts their live feed over the Internet, available for listening by anyone with an Internet connection. TuneIn, for instance, lets you listen to over 50,000 different radio stations, from all over the world, on your computer or mobile device (it supports everything from PC and Mac to Roku and bada). You can even record shows, and then listen to them later in the app. Spark Radio does much the same thing, letting you find the Yankee game even when you’re nowhere near New York.

In the car, at work, or waking up, I love listening to the radio. I just hate the “radio” part of the equation. With the right apps (and an Internet-capable mobile device, without which I’m useless to you right now), you can have any kind of radio-style listening experience you want, as tailored and personalized as possible or just a long listen to the smooth jazz station from your hometown.

How do you listen to music, talk shows, and radio, especially on the go?

Technology and the Church: Enemies?

On CNN’s Belief Blog, Lisa Miller wonders how technology is affecting religion and, more specifically the church, that group of people that get together every Sunday for a service:

This yearning for a more unmediated faith – including Bible verses live in your pocket or purse 24/7, available to inspire or console wherever and whenever they’re needed – has met an enthusiastic embrace.

For growing numbers of young people, a leather-bound Bible sitting like an artifact on a stand in the family living room has no allure. It’s not an invitation to exploration or questioning.

Young people want to “consume” their spirituality the way they do their news or their music. They want to dip and dabble, the way they browse Facebook.

Normally, religion is a topic I tend to avoid here – it’s rarely on-topic, and in my experience has, for better or for worse, generating more hate-mongering and trolling than any other subject. But I’m fascinated by this piece, and the argument behind it, and I’m curious what you all think.

The argument as I read it is this: Religion is a deeply significant, important thing that requires time, attention, and other people. In the realm of Facebook, Twitter, and the like, it’s harder and harder to make room for. So the response has been, from some of the new age-y churches, to meet people where they’re at. YouVersion is an online Bible, The Bible is the Facebook page with the most engagement, and so on and so forth. With religion and scripture available for easy, personalized, bite-sized consumption, now there’s no reason to gather together in a group. And that’s bad for the church.

It’s sound logic, but I think it falls prey to the same ideas that plague so many people during the tumultuous times the Internet has brought on. We tend to hold on to the notion that things were always done a certain way, and thus still should be so. Hand-written letters mean more than emails, phone calls are more personal than text messages, and religion is supposed to be an enormous commitment, filled with big books and pastors.

Now, I’m not going to get into my religion-based argument against this piece. (If I were, it would say something to the effect of “religion, at its most basic, is about reaching people. Jesus started the church by going to people where they were, and believing in him never required a special, graduation-given Bible. If part of religion is sharing what you believe, how can you not get the gospel out there in every possible way?” But I’m not going there.) But what I do object to is the notion that there’s a “right way” to do church or read the Bible. This part irks me in particular:

It is now possible to imagine the extinction of the family Bible, long given as a gift on graduation day or other big occasions and inscribed with special dates: births, marriages, deaths.

Instead, the Bible may someday exist exclusively online, with features that allow for personalization: Link to photos of weddings and baptisms! “Share” favorite verses!

Though I know she doesn’t mean it as such, that passage reads as a positive to me. Universally available, easy to share, find what matters to you: isn’t that a win for the individual and the church?

I love this piece as a part of the technological debate, because religion is a potent example of what’s being discussed much more broadly in nearly every industry and social circle: does the disconnection and personalization that technology promotes – watching sermons as podcasts instead of going to church, sharing and seeing only Bible verses you like – matter? Is it really a problem, is it even really happening? Are we just getting used to new paradigms and cultural norms, or is something deeper and more dangerous going on? I don’t know the answers, but I’m sure curious.

Naked

I bought an iPad on day 2. I stood in line and everything. It was the first thing I’ve ever owned that most people didn’t, and it was a conversation starter for literally six months. I had strangers on the subway ask to play with it, friends always wanted me to bring it places, and I was generally the cool kid on the block. (At least, for those six months. Now you can’t sneeze without snotting up someone’s iPad, and there’s even a newer version out that all my friends have. Foiled again.)

I’ve used a variety of cases for the iPad, starting from the day I bought the device. The one that stuck was the Apple iPad Case, the black polyester-y one that I see all the time, but no case ever really did the trick. Each might add some cool feature, but each makes the iPad heavier, larger, clunkier, and uglier. I found myself, whenever someone would ask to see the iPad for the first time, taking it out of the case before handing it to them. Every time I did, the response was better—something about holding the naked iPad in your hands makes it even more impressive.

What I realized after a while was that I was actually hiding part of the iPad’s real appeal by slapping a case around it. Apple’s whole success with the iPad was that it made something light and portable, yet beautiful and useful at the same time. Its slimness and lightness, its one-hand-able-ness all make it what it is.

So I took the case off mine, and have been carrying it around without a case ever since. It feels right now. I can feel how sleek and thin it is, or how little I notice it when I’m using an app, in a way that I couldn’t when there was a flap getting in the way and the case’s sharp edges made it hard to hold. Everything about the iPad is built around making it just feel good when you use it, and I feel it now more than ever.

About six seconds after buying my latest phone, a Samsung Fascinate for Verizon, I bought a screen protector. Basically, it’s a super-thin piece of plastic that’s the exact size of my phone’s screen, and is designed to protect the screen from being scratched. Having had to get rid of two phones because they were so scratched I couldn’t even see anything, I figured I was saving myself from another premature cell phone buy by plopping down the $16.

Well, turns out I’m an idiot. Luckily Claire, my girlfriend, caught me out a while later, when she was trying to read something on my phone. She tried about eight times to wipe the screen off, and then handed it to me and said, “it’s sparkly. It’s giving me a headache to look at this screen.”

So, best-boyfriend-ever that I am, I took the screen protector off, figuring it might help a tad (or at least be some placebo that would satisfy her). I peeled off the screen protector, and held it up to look at it. Not much to look at, just a clear piece of plastic, right?

Wrong. The thing was so foggy I could barely see through it. Evidently, clarity is a worthy sacrifice for keeping your screen clear.

I’ve had the phone without a screen protector on for a couple of months now, and two amazing things have happened. One, I feel like I’m using a completely different phone, with a big, bright, attractive screen that is finally a pleasure to read on. (I’ve been carrying an iPod touch with me for months, exclusively because I hated reading on my phone. No longer.)

Two, there’s not a single scratch, or smudge, on my phone. Anywhere. Turns out that most portable devices these days are made with glass that’s extremely resistant, and it works. I’ve used my phone exactly the same as before, and it’s as good as ever.

Our gadgets, good ones anyway, were meant to be used as they were made. Not as they are, plus a couple of inches of plastic or polyester or microfiber. Good gadgets shouldn’t be hidden in a case. Good gadgets are designed on purpose, and should be treated as such. I like ‘em better that way, anyway.

NPR's Guide to Blogging

NPR published guide to blogging in October of last year, but somehow I never noticed it until this week. It’s a fantastic presentation, with lots of right ideas and useful tips.

The whole slideshow is below, so check it out. Two things stick out to me: slides 34 and 35. They total four words. “Feed > Post” is one slide, and the next reads “Subscriber > Visitor.” Those two ideas have, in my mind, totally changed how I’m doing this blog from here on out.

Essentially what those ideas suggest is that the principal advantage of a blog over any other medium is that it’s a running discussion, always in-flux and changing. The value of a blog, unlike a book or a magazine article, doesn’t come from a single piece. The whole of a good blog should be much more than the sum of its parts.

I love that idea, and looking around, it’s what I love about my favorite blogs. Jason Kottke has become someone I trust to provide cool things, and to give a liberal arts take on technology and the Web. John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, over thousands of posts, becomes the most compelling argument I’ve ever seen for why Apple is so successful, and why it deserves to be. Andrew Sullivan (referenced a lot by the NPR guide) spends his time filtering opinions, agreeing and disagreeing, and forms a worldview (but one that’s always subject to change). I love these blogs because they’re thinking out loud, over time, never sure or certain and always learning new things and refining others. They want other people’s opinions, want your opinions on those opinions. One post is interesting enough, typically, but a hundred posts creates something that none of those hundred can create alone.

That’s what I’d like this site to be. I’d like to, over time, begin to understand what in the world it means to live in this crazy, shifting, digital world we’re all being thrust into. Posts here should be part of a larger whole, one toothpick in the crazy toothpick sculpture that I hope Digitizd will be.

Anyway, here’s the slideshow. It’s a great one, and a must-read for anyone who blogs.

Pin Tabs in Google Chrome to Save Space

Small tip for the day, filed under “Things I Know and Yet Somehow Forget Even Though They’re Super Useful,” and applying to people who fit under two categories: Those with a lot of tabs open all day in their browser, and those who have a couple of sites they keep open all day.

pin

For me, it’s check and check. I have a million tabs open all day, but Gmail, Google Reader and Remember the Milk should never get closed. Those three tabs take up a lot of space in my browser bar, though, and make it hard to figure out what my other tabs are, especially when I’ve got a lot of them open. Which is pretty much all the time.

If you use Google Chrome, there’s a clever solution, which is to Pin the tab. Go to the tab, and right-click on the tab label. Click “Pin Tab,” and Chrome makes the tab only the size of the small identifying icon. It takes up far less space, making it easier to see all of the 83 other tabs you’ve got open.

Not exactly Earth-shattering, but I love solving the little annoyances computers cause.

Jog.fm Builds Your Perfect Running Playlist

According to Science, listening to music while you workout actually makes you better at it. With the right soundtrack, you can actually lift more, run faster, and work out longer.  If you’ve got the right beats per minute, the right pace and the right song, you’re going to get huge.

Jog.fm, a clever new website, helps you build the perfect playlist for your workout, whether you’re a runner, walker or biker. What it does is figure out the perfect number of beats per minute for your mile time, builds a playlist full of songs with the right beat and pace, and then if you run at the pace of the song, you’ll be right on track.

I put eight minutes in as my mile time, and got back a playlist that ranged from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” to Train’s “Hey, Soul Sister.” Every song in the playlist has a steady, thumping beat that should keep me energized, occupied, and on pace.

You can customize the playlist as much as you want, even building your own from Jog.fm’s suggestions and your favorite songs. There’s also a way to browse other people’s playlists, which I liked – people create things like “My Epic 5K playlist” and “Half-Marathon Training,” which is a great way to get yourself into the mode that someone else already has.

Once you’ve got a playlist you’re ready to run to, the site makes it easy to buy one or all the songs you need through iTunes, with a single click. Or, you can play all your songs through Grooveshark, which Jog.fm embeds into the site in widget form. You can only save playlists if you have a Jog.fm account, but that’s free to get and easy to sign up for.

You can also map out your runs, before or after the fact, to figure out exactly how far you went.

Having the right music can help you run better, and Jog.fm can help you figure out the right music. Then it’ll show you how far you ran, for how long, and might even help you run better next time. I highly recommend poking around the app if you’re bored with your gym playlist, or find yourself not motivated by your workout music anymore.

Speaking of which, I’m bored with my workout playlist. Any suggestions for what I should listen to?

Recapping a Perfect Game: A Turing Test

Quick quiz. Following are the first three paragraphs from two stories, both about a baseball game between George Washington and Virginia. One was written by a person, one by a robot. Can you tell which is which? Number 1:

Tuesday was a great day for W. Roberts, as the junior pitcher threw a perfect game to carry Virginia to a 2-0 victory over George Washington at Davenport Field.

Twenty-seven Colonials came to the plate and the Virginia pitcher vanquished them all, pitching a perfect game. He struck out 10 batters while recording his momentous feat. Roberts got Ryan Thomas to ground out for the final out of the game.

Tom Gately came up short on the rubber for the Colonials, recording a loss. He went three innings, walked two, struck out one, and allowed two runs.

Number 2:

The George Washington baseball team held No. 1 Virginia to just two runs on Tuesday evening at Davenport Field but were unable to complement the strong pitching performance at the plate, falling 2-0.

GW (7-18) pitchers Tommy Gately, Kenny O’Brien and Craig Lejeune combined to hold Virginia (25-2) to just two runs on six hits. The top-ranked Cavaliers entered the game batting .297 as a team and averaging over seven runs per contest.

Gately got the start for GW and pitched three innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs with one strikeout. He worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the third by inducing two pop outs.

The right answer: #1 is a computer, #2 is human. The first passage was written by a computer built by a company called Narrative Science, one of the leaders in the technology for that sort of thing. (Deadspin broke this story, and compiled the comparison after getting a response from Narrative Science.)

The biggest storyline in this game, by a million miles, is the fact that Will Roberts, the Virginia pitcher, threw a perfect game. The 19th perfect game in Division I history, in fact, and the first since 2002. The sportswriter-computer-thing hit on that in the first sentence of the piece, and the GW writer waited until the seventh paragraph (of eight) to make a passing mention.

Honestly, though, I don’t care much about the semantics of the articles themselves. Whoever wrote the story for GW wasn’t a trained sportswriter anyway, so I won’t hate on them for the article. What I do care about is the fact that what a robot came up with is at least as good as what a human wrote. But neither’s very good.

The idea of “good enough” has been talked about a lot over the last few years—it’s the idea that, essentially, as long as something is simple, cheap, and good enough, we’ll take lower quality. The Flip video camera was Wired’s example in its story explaining the idea: it was cheap and simple, and though its quality wasn’t nearly as good as you could get with a little more money and a little more effort, it was good enough.

That same idea has invaded how we take photos (our cell phones are barely, but apparently, good enough, and they’re convenient as can be), how we communicate (texting and Facebook are inefficient, but they’re easy and good enough), how we listen to music (MP3′s don’t sound particularly good, and neither do the headphones that come with your iPod, but it’s hard to get easier or cheaper than those), and so many other things in our lives.

Is this story pointing to yet another realm where “good enough” is all we need? So much of what we read and look for online now, we want to follow a few simple rules. Get to the point. Tell me the important stuff first. If there are statistics or numbers, add them in later. Tell me what it means, but do that later and make it clear when I have all the information and can stop reading. Those rules might be sad for journalists or filmmakers, but they’re the reality of much of what we look for online.

Enter companies like Demand Media, and now to an even further extreme Narrative Science. Demand Media’s whole shtick is to assign quick, simple, good-enough stories to writers, optimize the crap out of them so they’ll rank highly in search engines, and pay writers a few dollars for their troubles. But what if humans weren’t even required? If a computer can write a functional, cursory recap of a baseball game, can we really be that far from a computer being able to write political news, or a story about how to tie a Windsor knot?

This development is going to matter, and it’s already starting to—there are websites that do computerized product reviews, lots already have computers writing game recaps, and more and more beats are being covered by robots that turn dry facts into something readable. Boring, but readable.

For feature writing, stories like those coming from the New Yorker and Vanity Fair that we read as much for the pleasure of reading as for the information within, that might never be good enough. But for a thousand others things, could it be? I’m having trouble arguing against it, other than on the grounds that I really like my job and would rather not be replaced by a computer.

We ask for “just the facts, ma’am,” and maybe robots and computers can actually live up to that. But that sounds like a bleak future to me. I want stories, color, insight, analysis and narrative, but would I take good enough if it were fast, easy and cheap?

Yeah, probably. But don’t hold it against me.