All posts tagged Apps

GTask Issues

One of my most used app on my Droid X is GTask. It’s essentially the Google task bar from Gmail on your phone. It will automatically sync up with Google Task bar, and you can keep a list just for your phone if you like.

I really like that you can set recurring events and set reminders. It is really helpful when trying to remember to put the garbage! The problem I’ve been having recently is that these recurring event reminders are accumulating. So now when the remind comes up about garbage night, it literally announces about 40 reminders, which I’m guessing is the number of weeks that I’ve been using it to remind me to take out the trash!

I haven’t really had the time to dig into it, or at least no time when I’m thinking about the issue. I’m guessing that I’m going to have to uninstall it and re-install from the Google store (which I notice is now called the Play Store). The trick is I just have to take the time to do it. It’s not as quick as it sounds because I need to write down all the things I have in there that I need to remember, so that I can remember to put them into the app when it’s re-installed.

Then I need to dig into why it’s doing this. I’m guessing it has something to do with the way that I click off the reminder when it comes up. It goes away until the next week when it comes back double. So it’s either a bug or something I’m doing.

I’ll keep you posted as to what the deal is when I get it all fixed up. Speaking of which I guess maybe I should do it now while I’m thinking of it 🙂

Games Soft Processor

For older games (like from the Atari era) or newer smaller games (like the apps on your smart phone) it is a common practice to set them up and run them on a soft processor. A soft processor is microprocessor core that can be wholly implemented using logic synthesis. To me this basically means a soft processor is something you virtually create using programming instead of an actual hard processor which is a chip on a board that physically exists inside your computer.

These soft processors make a great fit for the older style games. Think Pitfall, Pacman, or Qbert, just to give you an idea. You can make them for different sized but if you really need something huge like would run some of today computer games which are smash hits you would go with a larger hard processor.

These games soft processor are also a nice fit for the type of games which run on today’s smart phones like Angry Birds. Today’s smart phone app games are much more sophisticated then the Atari classics of yesteryear but they are still small by today’s standard for sure.

So if you are looking to run existing smaller games, or maybe even create your own, you definitely need to consider the soft processor.

Music Download Programs – Apps

free ipod download musicWhen it comes to downloading music there are two major players in the legal category. There are many out there from the Napster days, like limelight and others which aren’t legal (although I heard Napster is legal these days…who knew :). For me it’s not worth the risk, or the guilt of stealing the free music. I mean imagine if you spend years making something that you were hoping to sell and then millions of people came into your garage and took a copy?!

Music Download Programs

Of course the big number one in this industry is the Apple Music Store which is mainly for the Ipod although you can use it for other media too. Digital music had been around for quite a while but it took Steve Jobs to figure out how to make it user friendly for the masses. Once he made the Ipod easy, he then make the music buying easy as well. It was the synergy of those two areas which really made the whole industry flip on end.

The other main player is Amazon. You can get music from the Amazon store just like you can from the Apple Music Store. Typically the songs on Amazon are 99 cents which is cheaper then Apple. Also my understanding is the Amazon files have less restrictions as to how many times you can copy them to your devices. Again, I’m not at all advocating that you buy it and then sell it or give it to others, but if you have multiple Ipods, or would like it on your computers as well then it is your file and you should be able to use it where ever you are!

Not all music downloading programs are created equally of course, but these two really seems to be the most user friendly and cost the least as well (as long as you don’t count stealing the music for free).

How to Transfer Music from Your Computer to Your Ipod

Depending on where you are downloading the music files to they may well end up on your computer, which is handy if that is where you are going to listen to them. More often then not of course you are going to want those files on your Ipod. You may also have an old CD collection from before you had an Ipod that you would also like put on as well. Once you have the software installed and your Ipod linked to your computer it is really easy. It’s just a matter of deciding which songs you want to move and dragging them to the right place. The same is true if you want to move music from Ipod to computer.

What Else Besides Ipod?

Believe it or not there are tons of other devices that play songs out there these days. Sure Ipod was the first and holds the majority of the market share, but most all phones today will play and store music files. I personally have the Droid X and because of that I prefer the Amazon store for my music. The concept really is just the same as with the Ipod though. The point is Ipod was first and they should be acknowledged for it, but don’t be afraid to try something else too. Once something is discovered it can be relatively easy to improve on it by others.

Google Calendar – Keeping Track Of The Family Schedule

Google Calendar AppMy wife and I both have the Droid X. We’ve had them for about a year and a half now and really love them. Sure there are some frustrations that you are going to have with any computer, but over all they are really awesome. Notice that I said computers, and not phones. These things are really little computers that you can carry around that also happen to make phone calls! Both of us came from having flip phones before our Droids and it was like a whole new world!

Google Calendar

One of the really nice perks that we found was the app for Google Calendar. The Droids run on the Android operating system so they all ready came installed with the app. Once we synced them with our gmail accounts we were off and running. We then realized that we could all access to each others Google calendars and life really got easier.

Having a family of four with two young kids life can get really hectic. There is always something going on with school, sports, or some other activity that one or both of us need to attend and be on time. It really used to be a pain to keep track of it all. Don’t get me wrong it can still be hectic of course, but keeping track of it is really much easier now.

Whenever one of us see something that we need to know about we just put it on the Google calendar (which can be easily done right on the phone, or you can do it online if you happen to be at the computer as well). Within minutes, and sometimes less, it is showing on both our phones and online. Also when we have personal meetings, usually for work, where we can’t be available for kid stuff, we make sure to put that on the calendar as well. Then as the days approach and we are trying to figure out the plan we can just take a quick look at the Google Calendar App and know a pretty good idea of what is going to go on. Or if there is a conflict where two things are going on at once, or neither of us is available and need to be, we can see it ahead of time and adjust accordingly.

 

News Apps – USA Today

When I think about the apps that I use most I have to include the USA today app I downloaded shortly after I got my Droid X. It is a really nice working app which is really well done and is a great reflection of what you think an app should be that would reflect the USA Today newspaper.


Headlines

The main tab which comes up when you load the app is for Headlines. It will scroll through about two screens of the top news stories, usually with a thumbnail pictures. If you click the story it’ll take you to the detailed news story and you can usually blow up the pictures when you click on it as well.

You can also click on any one of a listing of the sections of the newspaper as well to get a detailed list of all the stories for that given section as well.

Scores

The next tab is called scores, and as you can imagine it is for getting the sports scores. Sure there are lots of other apps for getting game scores which do a great job but when I just want to check a specific score or the days results I always find myself going to the USA Today app to find them. Its just a nice basic layout of all the scores which you can flip from screen to screen for the different sports quickly.

Weather

Just like the print version I find that I don’t use this section very much. Not that it’s not good information, it’s just that I don’t travel that often so I don’t need the weather for the whole country. And I live in a big state so I’d rather get the weather for my regional area not the whole state. If I travel though I usually will flip to the weather in the USA Today app to see what to expect.

Pictures

This is a cool section that I’ll check out on occasion when I have some downtime. If you are sitting on the train or waiting in a line and are looking to pass the time this is a great way to do it. You can look at the pictures of the day by category. So you can see all the headline type photos with captions, or space pictures, sports, or pictures of celebrities as well.

Snapshots

This is a great little tab which is an electronic version of the great infographics that USA Today is really known for in their print newspaper. If you choose to have you GPS activated then it’ll also incorporate geographic factors into the results as well.

 

The Groupon App – Don’t Miss Another Good Deal

Deals with AppsSo just in case you have been living under a rock and don’t know what Groupon is, here is a basic definition. Essentially they are a company that finds restaurants, spas, and other companies that are looking to advertise. They they work out a deal with that company which they present to Groupon members. It’s often something like a $20 certificate for food at your local restaurant, which you can buy for $10. They key is that the offer is only good once a certain number of people buy the certificate for $10. This is how Groupon can get advertisers so easily. They say we are going to sell a bunch of certificates to your restaurant for $10, but none of them are good unless we sell 200 of them. The restaurant gets a bunch of people to come in and use the certificates and they get known. It really is a great concept and Groupon is doing quite well. The trick is that it’s not that had a concept to understand so many competitors have entered the market as well, but that is a conversation for another blog.

The Groupon App

So I have the Driod X the Groupon offers an app for the Iphones as well as most of the Android smart phones as well. You download and install it and once it is running on your phone, it is basically a notification system for Groupon. It’ll pop up once a day and let you know that the Groupon of the day is available to view. You can then click in and see what the deal is for today. During your first purchase on the app you will need to enter your credit card information, which you can safe if you like. I did and it makes it so much easier. I can do it on the fly now.

So if the Groupon of the day pops up I’ll hit the botton. If it’s a restaurant I like or know I’ll go to I click to buy button. Since my credit card info is all ready saved it asks if I want to use that card. I say yes, and with one more confirmation it is purchased. Done.

The information is saved, and when I’m ready to go to the restaurant I’ll log in to Groupon at home or work and print out the deal to bring along. There are also options now for some advertisers where you can do everything right on your phone. I haven’t tried this yet but I believe a bar code will come up on your phone and the vendor can just scan it and you are done. Couldn’t be easier.

So if you have a smart phone and like good deals, then you need to download and install the Groupon App. Do it today and you’ll thank me tomorrow!

Soft Download Stuff – Mostly Free Software Online

enter games softI remember when I was young and computers were still kind of a new idea (well lots of people had computers at this point, but they were still rare enough that a family would share one big PC). I’d periodically trek down to the COMPUSA or some other computer store to find some software. Maybe it would be a game that I had in mind, or some application that I needed (OK wanted), or maybe I would just stroll through the long aisles of software boxes (which contained 3.5″ disks) to find something interesting, the same way I’d look for a movie at Blockbuster.

Although I think there is one long aisle of software in the local Staples store, those days are mostly gone. I mean you can find everything you need online and then download it and have it installed by the time you’d warm up the car and leave your driveway!

It’s Usually Free

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all advocating stealing software. If it has a price, then you should be paying it. But there are just so many free options out there that if you are willing to look around a little bit then you can usually find an option that is free for you to download and install. Soft download stuff can really be found with just a quick Google search most of the time. When you get looking, if you are like me, you’ll often end up finding options that will cost you a fee, but as you look into them you decide that they are worth the money.

These downloads are really getting more and more like smart phone apps everyday. Just like on your phone you do a search for some software (app) that will do what you need. When you find it you will find some free options and some pay options. Often the free options will do everything you need just fine. However sometimes you’ll find a pay options that is just so function and slick that it’s worth spending the money.

Mickey Puzzle – Entertain the Kids with Your Phone

kid pix free downloadIf you have kids then you have been there before. You are at a restaurant with them and the food is taking a little longer then their attention span can handle. They are getting a little too fussy to handle and you are starting to get frustrated. I have two boys and my wife and I have both downloaded a few kids appropriate games on our phone for just such an occasion.

Micky Puzzle

One such kid game app that we use a lot at times like these is called Micky Puzzle. It’s Disney character based and works great. Essentially it’s a series of pictures of Disney scenes. When you hit the bottom it splits the picture up into nine equal boxes and shuffles them around the screen. You then need to slide the nine panels around until you have put the picture back together again. My little guys are 4 and 5 and it keeps them entertained long enough for the food to come without being too hard as to frustrate them where they don’t want to play (which has happened with other game apps we have tried).

Both my wife and I have the Driod X which has a big screen which helps, but I’m sure they offer a similar or same app on the IPhone as well.

How Much is Too Much? 

We really try to not let the boys play with the phones too often though. They are young and don’t need to get addicted to them yet. But for times when they are fuzzy and just need to pass some time it works out perfect. So at restaurants, or on long trips, it really can be a life saver!

Mint – A Website And App To Keep Track Of All Your Finances

small business financial softwareMy new favorite financial site is Mint.com! I used to use Microsoft Money for years and years. I liked it but I didn’t like that it was specific to just my computer. If I wanted to check something and I was away from my house, or my computer was down I couldn’t get to it. I know Money was supposed to have some functionality where it would go web based but I just never got into it.

One the Cloud

Mint however is 100% on the cloud. So as long as you have an internet connection you can get to everything that Mint has to offer. Any place, any time, as long as you know your user name and password. I love it.

You also basically never have to enter transactions anymore either. With Money I would often not trust the link with banks websites, or it wasn’t working. So I’d end up entering all the transactions manually. What a pain! It got at the end where I was really not using any of the Money functionality other then the bills section.

Recently Mint added a bill reminder that I don’t like quite as well as Money’s but it is close enough, and everything else is so much better that I finally scraped Money all together and exclusively use Mint.

It doesn’t just sinc up with my banking account either. It will link up with almost any account that I can think of that has something to do with my finances. So it hooked up to my auto loans and tracks them over time. It hooked up to all my checking and savings accounts obviously. It also hooks up to my retirement accounts, as well as my kids college plans, so I can get a good snap shot of what is going on there too.

Reporting

One aspect that I really like is the budgeting and reporting options that Mint offers. The one I use all the time is the net worth over time. To me that is really the measurement of your true financial health. Your net worth is what you have left over, or still owe, after you closed all your accounts and cashed in all your chips. You want it to be obviously positive, and continuing to grow over time (unless maybe you are in retirement and are starting to spend your savings). So it’s a great way to keep track of your financial health.

The budgeting is great too. You can set up as many categories as you want and set up monthly budgets for them. Then Mint will automatically track you spending in the accounts you link up, and tell you through out the month how you are doing on your budget. It’s a really great way to keep track of how you are doing and where you need to be!

Cool Web 2.0 offerings

One really cool aspect of Mint is the 2.0 social functionality. So it’ll keep all the the information it gathers without and personal data and can track and trend. If Mint notices something that might be out of whack with your spending it’ll give you a notice. So when you log in you might get a popup that saying something like, “You are spending 35% more then other people in your area on auto insurance”. It’ll give you a link to get a quote for auto insurance and see if you can save some money. It’s a great way to save money you didn’t even think about, and this is also one big way that Mint makes it’s money as well, on these kind of referrals.

So sit down and sign up for Mint.com and get your finances on track and in control.

Words With Friends


Another of my new smart phone game app addictions is Words with Friends. It is another one of those simple games that you get addicted to and you can’t put it down. It is essentially just the old board game Scrabble, but it’s electronic and it’s interactive with…you guessed it…Friends! lol.

Facebook Game

What is nice is that it’s also a Face book game as well. So you can play it when you are online on Facebook or you can download the app and play it right on your smartphone. You can choose a username or just choose to sign in with your Facebook credentials. For me personally I like the convenience of Facebook so when even I can find something that is also a Facebook App then I choose to sign in that way.

It’s Free

The best part is that it’s free! But like everything in life, nothing is really free. Whenever you play a word it scores your move and then takes you to an ad. Sometimes this ad is just a screen shot and sometimes its a short video clip ad for a movie or something like that. It’s not really that bad because the moves you make are going to take some time, so it’s not like you are viewing ads every couple of minutes or anything. I typically make one word play with each person I have a current game going with before I got to bed. You can play as soon as your opponent makes a word, but my life is busy and that’s how I do it.

Words with Friends Tip

One tip that I can give you that it took me some time to find out is that you can try words with no penalty. So if you are trying to make a word fit in a spot because you only have a couple tiles left or because you want to hit that triple word score give it a shot. Just submit your words and if it’s a word you are all set. If it isn’t a word then you’ll get a message telling you that and you’ll get no penalty and you just try again without losing your turn.

Good Luck!