iPhone X: Getting One?

Will I be getting an iPhone X? Are YOU getting an iPhone X? Why are you getting an iPhone X? The iPhone X will be hard to get, so good luck if you’re interested – but I’m still not interested in the iPhone X at any price. But https://go.tagjag.com/devicefund support!

The Delightful and Dubious Online Tech Trends of 2013

The Delightful and Dubious Online Tech Trends of 2013Have you been blissfully caught off guard by all of these new and fancy tech trends that are saturating the marketplace? Wonder which tech trends will stick around or which should be buried in the desert along with lost copies of Atari cartridges? Yeah, I hear you. Personally, I don’t have a whole lot of time to be perusing and checking out these new apps and gadgets all on my lonesome, so usually it’s on the suggestion of a friend or maybe a rogue reader with a keen eye that wants to get my opinion. So I took a look over some pretty big tech trends that have made a big impact on 2013 so far. Take a look and add your own! You know, be interactive!

Tech Trends: The Apps We Love and Hate

Snapchat: So some Stanford University students got together and pieced together an app that would allow the user to take brief snapshots from one second to 10 seconds and, then they allegedly fade off into the ether, never to be seen again. Currently, the demographic model is full of tweens, teens, and baby-adults below the age of 25, which puts Snapchat in a weird position. Anyone I know over the age of 25 who owns Snapchat is adorably questionable, at best, or they’re curious just like most of us are. What does it mean? What’s the reason? Users can take lurid pictures, embarrassing selfies, and revealing portraits and think that they will vaporize the second they will it, yet dozens of programs on the Google Play store say otherwise.

Just searching “Snapchat” shows that obviously an exploit exists, as well as reports that those images of yours don’t exactly leave. No, in fact they are saved for at least 30 days anyhow, so obviously some smart little jerks have figured out how to save your preciously stupid brain hiccups that made you take snaps of your junk and post them up for mere seconds. Can someone screenshot it? Sure they can. What does the company think of this? Obviously it finds it deplorable but — hey — you’re the one trusting an app with your naughty bits, so who is really at fault here?

The Delightful and Dubious Online Tech Trends of 2013
As you can see, Snapchat makes up only one application on this list of tech trends, and every other search brings up its dubious little screenshot thieves.

Vine and Instagram Video: Founded in 2012 and then quickly acquired by Twitter, Vine’s a nifty little program that helps you make and produce six-second videos that are easily condensed and posted up on social media without the huff and puff of most social media outlets like Facebook and such. Instagram would release its own quickshot video section to its app that allows up to 15 seconds as well as your normal Instagram filters. The fascinating thing about this is what people are doing with these videos.

People like Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on Game of Thrones, used Vine to post the most popular reaction on Twitter to the Red Wedding episode of her show, acted out in mere seconds by herself. Folks are getting creative in thrilling ways and using Vine and Instagram to show it off, and it’s never been more interactive of a world as when you give the people a way to let you see through their eyes, one sepia filter at a time. Some tech trends are exciting in simple ways.

The Delightful and Dubious Online Tech Trends of 2013
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones fame gives six seconds of fan reaction on Vine.

Candy Crush Saga: Who would’ve guessed that a candy-coated, brightly colored Bejeweled clone would so easily capture the hearts of people all around the world? But nobody can stop it. I had yet to have witnessed this confection that developers at King came up with in April of 2012 and less than a year later, it surpassed FarmVille in social media games. What was doing it? Was it how quick it is to pick up such a simple concept with adorable, harmless visuals? Possibly.

It might have something to do with the fact it isn’t a required time sink like most of those other “Ville” games happen to be. When you don’t need to constantly tend to crops, check on your city, or any other arguable waste of time, it opens you up to be able to enjoy something more at random. With only a set amount of turns, most levels don’t take long to complete. And while you are only allotted a certain amount of retries within a time period, it’s not such a bad thing to be told to back down and go do something else until you have more opportunities to bite into a level. Not too bad for a brand new title to bring in nearly $700,000 a day in revenue, is it? Quite a bit of money people are spending on those truffles, you know?

Real Racing 3: Is it possible we’re doing too much with our smart phones? Are they making us dumber? Are they making us think we have any business playing a racing game on our phones? Sure, I can understand tablets that are wide enough to handle and/or appreciate a game of this kind of high-definition, but I know people who are turning on their phones and syncing up to this game on an almost daily level.

Why are we doing this, hmm? Released in February of this year, Real Racing 3 absolutely wowed critics with its beauty and rightly so; the game has some incredible presentation, offers in-app purchases for vehicles and upgrades, and does what most free-to-play app games do but with the splendor and visuals of something you’d see on our current-generation gaming consoles. So it’s beautiful and it’s making money, but do we need it on our phones? On our tablets, sure, but our phones?

Playing this on my phone felt wrong and awkward, yet I was still compelled to play it just so I could see the visuals some more. Cars are crisp and beautiful, tracks are well laid-out, and this game could easily be something I’d purchase for $15 on the PlayStation Network and race against my friends. Instead? Phone. I’m stuck with it on a phone. Makes no sense.

Soundtracking: Bringing a “check in” approach to your music collection, Soundtracking is like setting a playlist for your day, not ahead of time but as your day happens around you! Listening to a song and it’s speaking to your current mood? Soundtrack it and the app will either listen to the sound around you if you’re listening out loud, grab it off of your phone, tablet, or Spotify, or you can search for the song you’re thinking of at that moment and let it out on Facebook and Twitter.

Maybe people will dig your vibe and follow your Soundtrack, opening up brand new audiences to music at the touch of a button. Honestly, of all the things listed here in this article, I think Soundtracking is a tech trend that has turned me on the most with its quick, reflexive interface, its smart lingo, and its no-frills desire to share music with everyone I know.

The Delightful and Dubious Online Tech Trends of 2013
On Soundtracking.com, you can find some of the trending Soundtrackers today, sharing music from all over the world!

Tech Trends: Social Media and the New Niche Machines

While some of these tech trends are certainly not new, they’ve either faded into the background or blown up more recently and I’m thinking it has to do with the user experience. We’ve all changed, haven’t we? With more freedom comes far more responsibility, and when you let the world at large play with websites like Tumblr, Vine, and Instagram, we all become a little more in tune with the audience we built.

The lot of us have a song to sing aloud and when we know we have all these freedoms to say what we want when we’re doing it without the constraints of Facebook or MySpace (do people still use that?) to hide their pretty words and take away their creative process.

Tumblr: With a dashboard consisting of seven buttons sprawled out at the top of your page, you can get to ushering forth your message as quickly and evenly as possible. The tech trend of hashtags are like the private little Reddit pages that you keep all to yourself, pleasantly seeking what other users are creating, talking about and re-blogging from their minds or from the minds of others.

Microblogging has gone where bigger blogs couldn’t go, and that’s where Twitter sent them. When WordPress is too heavy and meant for those intensely dedicated to the words and audience at large, Tumblr just wanted to see what you had to say and without the pretense or complication. In June of this year, Yahoo! bought Tumblr and, as of August 8th, Tumblr hosts more than 100 million blogs. Not too shabby for the place that people too chatty for Twitter go in order to get their heavenly Internet sermons to the masses, be they photos, gifs, or rants about the upcoming season of BBC’s Sherlock.

Fitocracy: Combining the love of reaching levels and achieving goals in video games, Fitocracy is among tech trends that award users with achievements to boast for every fitness landmark they reach in goals set forth by fitness instructors, professional nutritionists, and more from all over the world. Completing quests always seemed like something out of World of Warcraft and those tech-savvy yet health-seeking individuals could do well to give Fitocracy a try and see if it fits, so to speak, with their trophy-requiring lives.

Does it work? Sure, dozens swear by it, and my feed is littered with wonderful achievements and fitness peaks that friends of mine worked hard to get and boast about with pride! See, getting some fun recognition doesn’t have to be reserved for video games only, but when you pump out some of those crunches before work in the morning, too!

Klout, Pinterest, and LinkedIn?: Are we still doing this Klout thing? Are people still “pinning,” and is anyone actually checking out their LinkedIn activity? To me, Klout always seemed like a place where people impregnated each others’ feeds with self-importance and over-inflated corporate sponsorship. Talk too much about some beverages and someone will consider you an “Influencer” so much so that, before you know it, bitches be offering you tea bags as a Klout Perk. Yeah, that happens. That happened to me. Some tech trends are kind of lame.

Pinterest?: It’s Tumblr for those without the attention span to push forward and send their own message so much as re-pin someone else’s neatly — it’s like scrapbooking on the Internet. It came and went and died a death when people realized the simplicity of other sites and how we could easily tell our stories outside of just repeated imagery on a corkboard.

As far as I know, not a single person has actually gained a job and/or done anything other than show off the people they know on LinkedIn. An ever-growing resume online, it becomes a quick study in Facebook for the workplace and nobody should be offering jobs to people based on some delightful little blurbs and resume-esque coding on a website. No, we need to see it as social media only and something that holds the same weight as Facebook because we can still, easily, control our message there.

Hell, I haven’t logged into my main LinkedIn page in years and if anyone were to look that up, they’d think I hadn’t worked at a new place since 2007. Is that true? Sure isn’t. However, when you look me up on Google, it’s one of the first pages you see. Now is that anything you should be regarding heavily when it comes to your professional career? No, because it’s still just another page on the search engine that can come and go with the fleeting fancy of the average human’s attention span (and fickle tech trends).

Tech Trends: So What’s Next?

It’s leaving a lot of possibility for the upcoming applications and social media mavens when you see just where we’re sitting now with tech trends, isn’t it? With rumors swirling about an Amazon branded gaming console akin to the recently crowd-funded OUYA, we could see integration with our current tech that brings not just gaming applications, but social media applications to a brand new front. It’s always been a cumbersome thing to take part in the Android world from the comfort of your television and such, but maybe that day is soon to pass.

The world is brimming with technology and its naturally forming tech trends, and the biggest and brightest are yet to come. Once we’re all wearing eyeglass smart phones and wearing small hard drives as watches, none of us are going to look back at 2013’s early half and think that the tech trends going on were anything other than a flash in the pan. We’re going places, kids. Look out.

What apps and websites have caught your attention this year and what are you hoping to stumble upon before 2014 rears its glorious head on us all? Sound off below and share your best guesses for future tech trends with the lot of us!

Header images thanks to Petr Kratchovil and Silviu Firulete — modified by the author. Application images sourced from respective sites listed.

Smurfs’ Village is Ruining My Life

Smurfs' Village grouchMy life has been taken over by Smurfs. You know, those little blue creatures, the ones they made a movie about a couple of years ago and are now preparing to release a sequel? Well, not only have the geniuses at Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation figured out a way to dredge up and bank on my childhood obsession with, as the evil antagonist Gargamel calls it, “the cursed land,” they now discovered a way to keep me actively involved with all things blue: Smurfs’ Village.

Smurfs’ Village is Truly “the Cursed Land”

Smurfs’ Village is an iOS and Android app that enables Smurf freaks like me to extend our blue fantasies into our mobile computing lifestyles. As with any other addiction-enabling mobile game, Smurfs’ Village takes over your life by providing you with a tiny amount of land and people or other creatures, a minimal amount of resources, and the inspiration to increase all of the aforementioned until the operation begins taking over your life.

Smurfs' Village MarcoTwo years ago, we touched on the way smart phones are threatening the portable gaming device market (though I disagree with author Matt Hartley‘s opinion on that particular matter), and I myself have written on the potential value of some simulation apps (or games, or however you personally prefer to refer to them). But Smurfs’ Village is downright disturbing in its destructive potential. This isn’t simply a game that will teach you time and resource management, as Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes has the potential to do. No, Smurfs’ Village has the potential to eat up all your time and resources, and that’s downright evil.

How Does Smurfs’ Village Eat Up Your Time and Resources?

By preying on those of us who were children in the 1980s and spent their Saturday mornings watching hours of The Smurfs, the developers of Smurfs’ Village have figured out a way to really Smurf with your emotions. Nostalgia is a powerful persuasion device for marketers, and people of my age have a propensity to have their pleasure sensors activated whenever certain blasts from our pasts are presented to us: Star Wars and Jack in the Box action figures, LEGO, School House Rock, Hungry Hungry Hippos — and for me, the Smurfs. There was a time in my adolescence when my cousins questioned my sexual preferences due to my affection for the Smurfs. Even then, their homophobia didn’t bother me, but it did make me begin to think that perhaps I was getting too old to appreciate cartoons as much as I did.

Thankfully, I grew out of it. Not cartoons, but the thought that I would ever be too old to enjoy them. Though I haven’t actually watched The Smurfs series of the ’80s in years (and have yet to watch the recent computer-animated movie), I’m quite comfortable with being able to enjoy all types of animation, including cartoons, as an adult. Some of the writing (and even some of the performances) on animated shows such as The Simpsons and Robot Chicken far exceed the television sitcoms that come and go, year after year, only to fade away into the vaults of the film and television archives such as the Paley Center (formerly known as The Museum of Television and Radio).

Ah, well. We all need a break from reality sometimes, and I don’t suppose there’s any harm in downloading and playing a few minutes of Smurfs’ Village. All smurf and no smurf makes Jack Smurf a Dull Smurf, right? Or something like that. Download Smurfs’ Village today for Android or for iOS. Once you’ve got your Smurfs’ Village up and running, add me on Facebook so that we can visit each other’s cursed lands.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you if you end up in rehab for app addiction.

What mobile games have been ruining your lives? Chime in to the comments section below!

Is Leaving My iPhone Charging Overnight Bad?

Is charging my iPhone overnight harmful?

Nolan Levesque writes:

Hey, Chris. I’m wondering if plugging my iPhone in to charge before bed and leaving it plugged in for 8-10 hours after it’s fully charged is harmful? Thanks for all the great content; don’t let haters get you down!

Is Leaving My iPhone Charging Overnight Bad?
Is leaving my iPhone charging overnight bad?

Leaving your iPhone on charge while you’re asleep shouldn’t have any detrimental effects on the battery. The lithium-ion battery in your iPhone has two modes:

  • The fast charge, which can charge the battery to 80% of its capacity in around two hours.
  • The trickle charge, which will charge the battery to 100% of its capacity over three to four hours.

According to Apple, your battery will lose some of its capacity every cycle, but it will take thousands of cycles before your battery will only hold 80% of its charge.

The modern lithium-ion battery can take thousands of charge and discharge cycles before showing any kind of sign of not being able to hold a full charge. So I think that it’s safe to say that leaving your iPhone charging overnight wouldn’t be bad for it. If you’d like to know more, we’ve covered this topic in greater detail here: Should You Leave Your Smartphone Charging Overnight?

Image: New Battery by DougWard via Flickr

Thermal Imaging Accessory for iPhone and Android

Thermal Imaging Accessory for iPhone and AndroidThe creator of the IR-Blue has an interesting story about how he decided to develop this accessory for the iPhone and Android smartphones. He had purchased a 100-year-old house that was drafty and he wanted to plug up the leaks. The cheapest thermal imaging camera he could find cost $1,500, so he decided to build his own.

The IR-Blue is touted is an affordable thermal imaging accessory, specifically to be used on the Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphones. Using a 64-zone non-contact InfraRed sensor, the temperatures are read and provided for viewing. The IR-Blue uses Bluetooth technology to connect to your Apple iPhone or Google Android smartphone to show the exact temperature readings in a colorful array, right onto the smartphone screen.

iPhone Demo:

Android Demo:

The company that is developing the IR-Blue accessory, RH Workshop LLC, states that the device is working and nearly ready for production. The company specializes in advanced technologies, design, and product development using affordability through the open source project. The sensor being used in the IR-Blue is still new and not available for wide distribution.

So how much is this accessory for thermal imaging going to cost? The estimated cost for the device is going to be about $150. This is just a fraction of the cost that professional equipment might cost. Many fire departments use thermal imaging to locate victims inside of burning buildings. However, due to budget cuts that some cities have experienced, this low-cost device could be implemented as an alternative to its expensive counterpart.

There is also one other advantage that this project has, and that is the ability to build your own thermal imaging device since this project will be open source.

What do you think? Can you see yourself using this accessory? How would you use a device such as this and why would you use it?

Comments, as always, are welcome.

Source: IR-Blue at Kickstarter

CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by PhotopediaPhotos

Three Best Waterproof Cases for Your iPhone

Ever been pushed into a pool with your iPhone in your pants? Wanted to take underwater pictures with your iPhone? Make sure that your pricey Apple smartphone is water-prepared with these cool new cases.

The iPhone Scuba Suit (a.k.a. The driSuit Endurance)

Three Best Waterproof Cases for Your iPhone

Designed for the iPhone 4 and 4S, this “Scuba Suit” is designed to protect your device from water damage. Slip the scuba gear on your phone, and you can take clear underwater shots at up to 15 feet. According to the retailer Photojojo, each Scuba Suit has been factory-tested to guarantee that not a single drop of water will get inside your precious iPhone. The case is a liquid airtight barrier that has a touch-sensitive gel screen cover that ensures you can shoot photos underwater easily. Now you can bring your phone for pool parties while snorkelling, while fishing, or even while climbing a snowy mountain. The Scuba Suit is priced at $60 at Photojojo (and it may be even less through Amazon, depending on what specials happen to be going on at the time you look).

LifeProof iPhone Case

Three Best Waterproof Cases for Your iPhone

Do you have the latest iPhone? The LifeProof iPhone case for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5 is one of the waterproof jackets of choice. Wired gives it the highest waterproof rating at IP-68 (Ingress Protection Rating). This IP code is the gadget’s rating protection against solid objects, accidental contact, and water in electrical enclosures and mechanical casings. An IP-68 rating means that the LifeProof iPhone Case proved to be dustproof and waterproof — giving full protection underwater, even if the device was submerged for a long time during testing.

By using this case, you also have access to all of your phone’s buttons and ports, so you can be sure of full functionality while diving, surfing, singing in the shower, or any other situation involving water. LifeProof also says that its LifeProof Fre iPhone 5 case is dirt-proof, snow-proof, and shock-proof. LifeProof sells its multi-colored cases for $79.99, but with the holidays fast approaching, you can now have one of these cases for $69.99. If you want extra protection, also grab the LifeProof Lifejacket Float for LifeProof iPhone 4/4S ($39.99), which ensures that your phone will float in case you lose it in the watery depths.

Amphibx Go Waterproof Case for Smartphones

Three Best Waterproof Cases for Your iPhone

Priced at $39.99, the Amphibx waterproof case is one of the best accessories you can buy for your iPhone (including the iPhone 5). The case is durable and works in depths of up to 12 feet (3.6 meters). Amphibx uses a patented LatchTight locking closure to keep the moisture out. The ClearTouch pouch also lets you use your touchscreen, buttons, and camera.

The best part is the SealTight headphone connector that also lets you place phone calls on your RingCentral business phone and listen to music. The Amphibx Go Waterproof Case also works for iPod, Android phones, BlackBerry, other smartphones, and large MP3 players. Clip it on to anything and go!

Waterproof your smartphone and you’ll never feel limited when exploring the great outdoors or going into the murky depths of the sea. These cases make great gifts, too!

Image credit: Photojojo, LifeProof, Amphibx

iOS Consumers Tend to Put Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

iOS Consumers Tend to Put Their Money Where Their Mouths AreA few comments have been posted to an article I recently wrote about a product that is targeted to Apple device consumers. Most of the comments — in fact, 75 percent of the comments posted at the time I’m composing this sentence — are inquiring about whether or not the product I wrote about is going to be made available to Android device users.

My response to one of the commenters included the following assertion: “iPhone/iPad users are more likely to pony up for stuff they want. It’s a generalization, I know — but too many Android users want stuff for free/close to free. iOS consumers tend to put their money where their mouths are.”

I have long desired to own an Android device, and earlier this year I was finally able to afford one, a vastly discounted Samsung device offered by a prepaid carrier. I purchased the device at Best Buy for $50 at a time when the manufacturer’s suggested retail price was well over $100. It was one of those fortunate moments when the stars aligned in my favor; for months I had been watching Fatwallet.com and other deal monitoring sites in the hopes that such a deal would make an appearance. When it did, I jumped on the occasion.

This was my first experience with an Android device, and I must say I was at first thrilled with it. Though the device was somewhat lacking in the specs department, I salivated over the opportunity to finally be able to discover what everyone had been talking about since the first Android-powered device was released in 2008.

Yet I soon found that my new phone was severely incapable of being able to do what I most wanted to do: install apps. I mean, the device was loaded with the prepaid carrier’s apps, including Facebook and Twitter and a few more of the universally accepted necessities. But I was unable to add more than a few more apps without quickly running out of internal storage. Within a month, I decide to delve into the world of Android modding in order to see if I could modify my phone just so that it would be able to run more apps.

Eventually, after much exploring and deciphering of the somewhat esoteric Android modding community, I found a developer who was willing to develop a ROM that would render my device usable. And though at least one of my co-contributors here at LockerGnome finds it awesome but unimportant to be able to root your Android device, I’ve found the ability to root my device to be an absolute necessity in my being able to enjoy using my phone. Today, the Android phone is in a state that I far better appreciate than it had been when I first brought it home from Best Buy.

And yet the device, due to its low specs, is still only capable of running an outdated version of Android. Though I find Gingerbread (Android 2.3.6) capable enough for my current needs (for the most part), I’m finding myself unwilling to purchase apps for the device. For one thing, many of the apps I’ve installed on the device lack the quality I’ve found in their equivalent apps developed for the iOS platform. For another, though I’ve invested some money into the device, such as an extended battery and a larger microSD card in order to enable the device to perform better than it at first did, I’m finding the device still doesn’t quite match the quality of the iOS device that I recently purchased from somebody off of Craigslist, a 4th generation iPod touch that came equipped with far more storage and memory than the inexpensive Android device I’d been hoping would rock my world.

There are some incredible Android devices on the market, but I speak from the point of view of someone who cannot afford the latest and most expensive ones of the bunch. Certainly I would love to sport a Nexus 4 or a Galaxy S III, but those devices are far out of my budget. The iPod touch, though having some flaws of its own, I acquired for $100 and have since purchased approximately $50 worth of apps to install to the device. As for the Android device, I have spent precisely $0 (zero dollars) for apps to install on the phone.

I believe that iOS consumers are far more likely to spend their money on apps for their iPads and iPhones (and iPod touches). I am far from alone in this opinion. This is, I believe, because the typical iOS consumer has more disposable income than the vast majority of mobile device consumers. They can afford to purchase apps that owners, such as myself, of less expensive devices can afford to purchase. In addition, there is a perception that iOS apps are of superior quality than their Android counterparts. Earlier this year, when the developers of Instagram finally released an Android version of their remarkably popular iOS photo sharing app, an immediate and overwhelming criticism was made — mostly from iOS consumers, its seems — that the quality of the Android version of the app was of lesser quality. Whether or not the complaints were warranted or not, I don’t know. (I hadn’t yet tested Instagram on an iOS device at the time the Android version was released.)

There are iOS apps, of course, developed by Apple itself that are far from maintaining the standard of quality that the company is known for. But most apps must undergo a strict vetting process before they are allowed to be sold through Apple’s App Store, and this further reinforces consumers’ perception that iOS apps are of a higher quality. iOS consumers often purchase Apple products due to this perception, whether valid or not, and are more willing to pay for apps to further enhance their iPhones or iPads.

This is not intended to be an insult to consumers of low-cost Android devices (which would in fact be an insult to myself); it’s simply a view that I strongly hold, having now had considerable experience using both devices. (I’ve also participated in beta testing of another Android device since my initial purchase, and found myself even less willing to purchase apps for the device due to its lacking in certain very key areas.) Perhaps, once I have more experience with higher-quality Android devices, my views will change. I’d certainly like to see some of my favorite apps, such as Bossjock Studio, one day make their way to the Android side. But I’m not going to be complaining about it until it’s perfected its app on iOS devices, and I’m certainly not going to pretend I’d pay good money for an Android app that almost certainly wouldn’t be capable of performing well on the device I currently own.

Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is? Would you pay good money for an Android version of an app that currently is exclusively being developed for iOS devices? Would you, for example, buy GarageBand or iTunes or iMovie or FaceTime for Android? If there was an app for surviving the apocalypse, would you download it only if it was free?

Image provided by someecards.

Apple iPhone and iPad: Digital Baby Memory Box App

Apple iPhone and iPad: Digital Baby Memory Box AppWhen you’re a parent sitting back to reminisce nostalgically about days gone by, baby books have always been great reminders of those first precious months that you enjoyed with your child. However, the problem with our modern, mobile society is that it’s easier than ever to lose or misplace such valuable keepsakes so that, by the time the child is grown, they can’t be found.

Another problem for parents who want to record their baby’s firsts is that they are so busy just surviving those early days that they often put off or forget to record special events in these books. When this happens, parents often lose the mementos or memories that they had hoped to store in the child’s book — be it an actual physical lock of hair, a journal listing of all the various firsts that the newborn completed, or a prized album (or disk, or memory card) of digital photographs. If this has happened to you, though, don’t feel like you have failed. In fact, I would be surprised if the majority of parents who start off with good intentions don’t falter in this. Remember: You are trying to cope with many sleepless nights, mountains of diapers, and messy feedings. In this type of exhausted fog, it is no wonder that the effort necessary to record each new milestone becomes too overwhelming and takes a backseat to the everyday need to survive.

Thankfully, for those parents who are still determined to try and record these firsts, there is a company out there that believes its application can help. The application is called mementobox and is currently available for the Apple iPhone and iPad device stands. However, there has been such a high demand for mementobox that the company is developing an Android application that it plans to offer in the very near future.

The application’s developers have divided the application into three distinct categories.

The first category is entitled My Arrival, and it records the events leading up to the newborn’s actual arrival and entry into the human race. One advantage to this section that makes it superior to the old handwritten baby book is that, in addition to storing the requisite photos, the application can log messages from family and friends, record gifts received, and keep track of thank you notes that have been sent.

The next section is called My First Year and, as can be surmised, covers the child’s first year on planet Earth. For anyone who has had a child, we already know most of the firsts. These include the baby’s first steps, first trips, first shots, first illnesses, and first words (of course no one would expect these to be mama or dada). I know that many of these could be missed without serious problems arising, but I would suggest that you keep track of shots or illnesses since knowledge of these will be required by schools and doctors in the future. For example, shingles is a leftover effect of having had chickenpox, mumps could lead to male infertility, and whooping cough is once again on the rise.

The last section is called My World, and it covers any special event in which your young one participated. These events could include a trip to the zoo or a Christmas parade. They can then be linked by date and logged onto the application itself.

Currently, while the application stores all of the information on the Apple iPhone itself, the creators recommend that the information be backed up to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox. I believe that this is a wise decision as well since you never know what could happen to your phone. I know my nephew dropped his in the toilet and lost all of his information; my daughter lost hers and never had it returned. As a result, they were both up the proverbial creek without a paddle. However, if they had stored the information on the cloud, they could have restored it to a new phone and life would have seemed much kinder.

To immediately begin recording your child’s precious firsts, you can purchase the application for your cellphone for a mere $3.99. This is another advantage since the standard baby book can cost up to $50.00. However, since the Apple App Store did not have enough reviews of the application (as of November 1st, 2012) to provide a user with an average rating, I cannot tell you what other new parents have experienced. If I believe the hype though and the promises the company touts, then I would think that the cost alone makes it a viable option to the often lost printed baby book. If any of you have used or taken a look at this application, please comment so that I can share this information with other readers.

Comments are welcome.

Source and image: mementobox

Source: gizmag

iPhone 5: Would You Bring Your iPhone to T-Mobile for Cell Service?

iPhone 5: Would You Bring Your iPhone to T-Mobile for Cell Service?T-Mobile’s marketing division is on the move to the point where it is starting to remind me of the children’s storybook tale The Little Engine That Could. I say this because T-Mobile has been bombarding us with a multitude of television advertising featuring a lovely young woman riding what is purported to be a fast motorcycle that rapidly overpowers a male rider on a smaller, moped-style bike. The message is clearly being sent that the female’s cycle represents the lightening speed of T-Mobile’s 4G speeds, whereas whatever the male is riding represents the current speeds offered by all the other cell companies.

Up until now, however, T-Mobile had not taken on the Apple iPhone. Well, that is about to change. T-Mobile is ready for the big time and the company claims that it has plans to support the Apple iPhone 5, which is Apple’s newest cellphone product. Its plans do not stop with the latest Apple iPhone, however, as it is also welcoming older versions, like the Apple iPhone 4 and 4S, to the T-Mobile family. In fact, to see just how serious T-Mobile is about wanting to serve you, check out the T-Mobile blog site listed below.

After reading the blog, I was curious enough to visit our local T-Mobile store to get the facts about how one goes about getting an iPhone to work on the T-Mobile network. This is what I learned. First of all, the Apple iPhone must be unlocked before the installation of a T-Mobile SIM. To find out how this process could be accomplished, I fibbed a little and told the clerk at the T-Mobile store that the iPhone I was receiving as a gift needed to be unlocked. Perhaps this was wrong since I have no such phone coming as a gift nor do I have any intentions of purchasing an iPhone, but I wanted to learn all I could about how the process would work. The clerk was then gracious enough to tell me that I would need to take the phone to Wireless Trendz, located next door to the T-Mobile store. To that end, I went next door to Wireless Trendz, where I was told that it would cost $47 if I wished to receive a full unlock of the iPhone.

With that information in hand, I then returned to T-Mobile for more information on its data plan. It seems that, once an iPhone is unlocked, there are several plans available — including, to my surprise, a pre-paid plan that would work with the unlocked iPhone. The plan that impressed me the most was one that consisted of 1,500 minutes of talk or texting time. Let me make this clear: It is not 1,500 minutes of talk time and 1,500 minutes of text time. It is combination of the two. The plan also includes 30 MB of data usage, and all of this is only $30 a month. Of course, there are other more expensive plans available ranging from about $60 to $105 a month, however, these plans require a two-year contract.

So how good is the 4G service that T-Mobile is offering? I can only share my own personal experience, which may differ from what you will experience since connection speeds and reception will be influenced by where you live. I know that I have previously used both AT&T and Sprint and, in the area where I live, T-Mobile seems to be quicker. However, I am also aware that my views could be jaded by the fact that I pay only $30 a month for a plan that includes 4G service for the first 5 GB of data. For me, that is perfect, but it doesn’t mean that the plan would be workable for everyone else since, while it allows for unlimited texting, it strictly limits talk time to 100 minutes. One must also be made aware that this plan is only available from Walmart in conjunction with T-Mobile or when offered as a special promotion directly from the T-Mobile website.

So what do I think? I believe that the service I am receiving from T-Mobile 4G is very quick when I compare it to either Sprint or AT&T’s 3G service. However, one must remember that all commercials are going to portray their service as the largest, most user-friendly, and fastest cell network out there. Is it as fast as the commercials portray it to be? I can’t answer that because I believe the answer will be in what you, as a consumer, experience and is dependent on the phone you are using. The proximity you have to the cell towers and also how many folks are connecting to the same tower at the same time will also affect your service.

What is great, though, is that iPhone users will now have the opportunity to harness into a network that offers less expensive connection fees. Additionally, when an iPhone customer chooses T-Mobile, they will be able to take advantage of a their new theme, “Unlimited and Unlocked,” which is directly targeting iPhone owners. I sincerely hope that this article is of assistance to those who find themselves struggling to make ends meet due to the high cost of other available cellphone plans (aka contracts).

Comments welcome.

Source and image: T-Mobile

Android and iOS: Application Keeps Track of Warranties

Android and iOS: Application Keeps Track of WarrantiesFor anyone who uses an Android device or has an iPhone or iPad, there is a must-have application that you just have to get. The free application is called Warranty Hotel and what makes this a great app is that it will keep track of all of your warranties in the cloud. The best part of this app is that it eliminates trying to hunt and peck around your home, looking for all of those warranties that are shoved in a drawer somewhere.

Most of us have faced the nightmare of trying to find that warranty receipt when one of our prized devices or appliances has failed on us. I remember experiencing one such problem that resulted in my not being able to get an appliance repaired or replaced. About eight months ago, I purchased a $50 coffee maker from one of our local brick and mortar stores. As I do with most purchases, I stapled the receipt to the instruction manual and stored in my my desk drawer. This is what I thought I had done, anyway. Long story short: The pot failed after six months and I still haven’t found the receipt or warranty documents.

So when I discovered the application called Warranty Hotel, I decided to give it a try, and I am glad that I did. The cloud-based service uses a password-protected system that allows the user to access the information from just about anywhere at any time. The app is optimized for the Apple iPad and iPhone as well as Android devices. The application does require some personal information like your name, your email address, and other data that some may be reluctant to provide. One good thing about Warranty Hotel is that it is currently free, so no credit card information needs to be given. Once the app is installed on your computer, you will receive a greeting from the company via email.

I found the app extremely easy to use. In fact, the hardest part was to round up, find, locate, and otherwise gather together all of my warranties and receipts. On the main menu, you can start the input process by uploading pictures of your warranty documents, sales receipts, or by using a scan of the QR scan code. The app provides an integrated reader feature, or you have the option to input the data manually. In addition, you can enter additional information like where you bought the item, when you bought the item, and when the warranty expires for the item. Each item is given a keyword for searching that you provide. Examples are “Amazon,” “Best Buy,” “Refrigerator,” or other descriptions of your choosing.

The main purpose of the app is to create a paperless trail of all of your purchases and to eliminate that drawer, box, or other collection point that houses all of the receipts and warranty forms. You can even keep track of repair records as well as proofs of purchase. I would highly recommend you give Warranty Hotel a try and, I hope, this app will make your life a little easier.

Source: Warranty Hotel

Comments welcome.

Drunk Driving Kills: Check Your Breath with iPhone, iPad, or iPod

Apple iPhone: Check Your Blood Alcohol Before You DriveThe Apple iPhone is one of the most popular smartphones on the planet and is coveted by millions of people around the world. There are a host of accessories for the popular Apple device, most of which are sold exclusively through Apple online or at one of its retail brick and mortar outlets. So when I discovered a product from a non-Apple company selling for only $18 on Amazon, my curiosity was immediately piqued. In addition, this product appeared to be useful in that it could actually test one’s breath for alcohol. I later learned that, in addition to the Apple iPhone, the device also works on the iPad and the iPod.

In my younger years, which I refer to as my past life, I spent 20 years in law enforcement. I ran into my share of drunks and drunk drivers, and all of them usually turn out to be a pain in the butt. In my youth, I had been known to have hoisted a few myself, so believe me when I say that I wasn’t against drinking when I was younger. However, the one thing that I saw when working the streets is how alcohol can destroy people’s lives — of drunk drivers as well as those who have the misfortune to share the road with them.

These were the days when there were no portable breathalyzers and one had to work strictly off of initiation and observation of a suspect. I recall one evening sitting at the local BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in San Francisco, filling out my day sheet, which is basically a report of one’s activities during a shift. It was about 11:30 p.m., and I had about a half-hour before my shift ended, when I heard a terrible crash in the distance.

I exited the BART station and observed two occupants in a very damaged vehicle and another vehicle, which was upside-down, with a single occupant. I checked the first car and saw both people were injured and called for an ambulance. Checking inside the second vehicle, the driver sat upside-down on what once was the roof of the car, a whiskey bottle laying next to him, and a very strong odor of alcohol on his breath. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to conclude that this man was drunk driving and the subsequent investigation proved his blood alcohol was 2.4%, which was over the legal limit at the time of 1.0%.

When I saw this accessory that attaches to the charging port of the three Apple devices I mentioned above, I thought to myself what a useful product this could be. But I also thought it would only be useful when someone actually used it and, when receiving the results, refrained from driving a vehicle.

The NowAdvisor iPega 0.9″ LCD Digital Alcohol Tester for iPhone / iPad / iPod — (in black) can be purchased for $18 from Amazon at the time of this writing. The manufacturer does warn that the device will not determine if you meet or exceed the legal limit of your state of residence, but there are plenty of resources on the Internet that can give you this information (here’s a list of blood alcohol concentration limits by state from Progressive Auto Insurance).

Comments, as always, are welcome.

iPhone’s Biggest Flaw: Vertically Oriented HD Video Recording

Dear Apple,

Okay, that’s it. I’m sick of this. Fix it, already.

As a long-standing iPhone user, I feel the need to bring to your attention a massive oversight that has slipped your attention with every OS revision you’ve released: enabling users to record vertically oriented video. Portrait mode is awesome for still photos, but not recorded video.

Never in my entire existence on the planet have I seen a video created by a user who intended on having that video recorded in a vertical orientation. Most consumer HD viewing experiences don’t work that way. Nobody stands their HDTVs in a vertical orientation, and an extreme few have vertically oriented monitors attached to their computers. Vertical video broadcasts can be equally as awkward. There’s really no need to enable either, anymore, but my beef is primarily with recorded video — with the portrait broadcast a close runner-up.

It is quite possible that the user intends to record the video in a vertical orientation to begin with, expecting the video would record precisely what is viewable on screen at the moment of capture. I could imagine you might want to do this if you were recording something that was more tall than it was wide. But… this just… never seems to work out.

Who embeds (wants to view) videos formatted in a portrait orientation?

I’ve had more than a few videos ruined because I was holding the iPhone parallel to a flat surface — like shooting an object on a table while hovering directly above it. I had always intended on shooting in a landscape orientation (and even held the phone in such a manner while recording). However, because I failed to check the screen orientation before pressing the record button, the result is not just a failed video recording, but a rather peeved user as well.

The answer isn’t “you’re holding it wrong.” Suggesting that the user is incorrect in this scenario is unfair, especially when the issue can be addressed with a software revision to the Camera app. I can’t imagine the feature would be limited to any iPhone that had been enabled to record video, either, because people have been recording vertically oriented video on the iPhone ever since you enabled them to do it.

http://youtu.be/Bt9zSfinwFA

Not being a UX expert, I can’t make formal suggestions as to how you might address this “problem” in software, but I’d imagine it would include some kind of new icon that would alert the user to an alternative recording orientation (along the lines of your excellent camera-flipping icon). Or, quite possibly, be set as a default of landscape recording instead of vertical if the user was holding the phone in a portrait orientation.

You require users to double-tap the screen to get a full field of view of the video dimensions, so it’s not like I’m out of line to expect that you’d also be able to figure out how to accommodate the death of vertically oriented HD videos.

While I haven’t done any kind of formal polling, I’d imagine that the vertical-happy faction of your audience is slim. The circular lens functions irrespective of screen orientation, so this is certainly not a hardware flaw. Fix it.

Thank you.

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome Apps

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome AppsWhen a new browser came out, I was always right there. I was reading dev logs and peering over the new details of bug fixes and what modifications we’d see in future releases. To me, an Internet browser was the window to our digital life and, if it’s done wrong and it’s complicated to use, I can’t live. I worked my way past Internet Explorer and leapt at Opera, clamored for Firefox, and when Chrome came out and introduced me to something so simple and clean, I was in love. Absolutely.

After some slow-going roll-outs, Chrome finally introduced us to apps. Much like you could get on your phone, Chrome apps were a way that we could take the applications we loved on our phones and put them on our second most-used interface: Our Internet browser. This gave us a wealth of possibilities and none of these slid past me for even a second as I was right there to absorb all of the productivity enhancers and possible time drains that Google Chrome had to offer me.

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of scaling back and tweaking my experience to be one of customized heaven. What’s wonderful about the app selection in Google Chrome is that it doesn’t want you to take anything you don’t want. The app screen for your Chrome browser isn’t meant to fit a ton of items on one page and clutter up your screen if you don’t want it that way, you know? It just says: “Take what you want until you’re happy, but know you can always go back.” And I needed to see that. I remember when I got my first iPod touch and I knew I could download apps there — I went insane. I needed everything on there and, with a hard drive like you have on a computer, that can get kind of crazy. Nobody wants to see half of a terabyte devoted to silly apps, do they? No, they don’t.

What kind of apps did I choose? Why, I’m glad you asked! Among my favorites, I chose the ones I use on a nearly daily basis — and repeatedly. Check them out for yourself:

TweetDeck

Most of you who use Twitter are already familiar with TweetDeck and how spot-on it has always been for us desktop users. Sure, it has its home on mobile devices, but I always loved it here on my PC. As soon as I pop my browser on, this button is right here and waiting to be clicked.

Dropbox

I was a bit late in the game when it came to understanding cloud storage and became a full on supporter once I mastered the Amazon cloud storage and its possibilities. Dropbox offers just what I need plus an easy way to invite people to share the files I put there. You might be thinking: “But Google Docs?” And, no, until Google Drive is ready to go — bug free — I’ll be safe here at Dropbox with my several gigs of cloud storage at the touch of a finger.

PicMonkey

Now I’m well-versed in Photoshop and have been for years, but what about those quick shots you don’t want to have to edit in Photoshop? Maybe they’re just quick snaps of your breakfast or a new gadget? Not worth the trouble? Well, PicMonkey knew I would love it for simplifying color correction, minor editing, and sophisticated filters put into button format. It’s easy to use and it tends to even come in as a finishing stroke after I edit in Photoshop now. I absolutely love it.

Do It (Tomorrow)

This little program is my lifesaver in a world filled with Google Calenders, BaseCamps, and complicated scheduling utilities. I don’t need them because my life is already pretty streamlined and I like it that way. It’s like giving someone a Maybach to drive to the grocery store around the corner, you know? This is where Do It (Tomorrow) eases in and says “Look, you just need to remember what to do tomorrow. That’s it. Don’t go crazy.” and leaves you with it! Simple format, absolutely free, and has one of the sweetest little journals inside with handwritten fonts, coffee stains, and page-turning sounds. I love it. It loves me. End of story.

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome Apps

Mibbit IRC

Once in a while, I frequent some modification and emulation chatrooms that revolve around imported video games from the ’80s and ’90s and, when I go there, I need a quick shot into those rooms. Mibbit grabs that IRC link and turns your browser into a streamlined IRC chat client in the blink of an eye. Merely slap your nickname into the window and you’re off and running, regaling in stories about when the Sega Master System was the beginning of an amazing era of gaming.

WordPress

True, it’s really easy to just go ahead and type in your blog’s name and access the WP-Admin login system, but this little app knows you’re busy. It knows you’re obviously using WordPress for something personal and close to your chest and it gives you the ability to log in and get it all out. It’s simple, quiet, and without distractions of sidebars and craziness. Sure, I don’t really use it for work, but for my personal blog, it’s perfectly suited there on my app bar.

Pixlr Editor

Remember up there when I was going on and on about Photoshop and PicMonkey? Well, Pixlr Editor is in between those two worlds. Yes, when you edit as many photos as I do, you need a few middle men in the mix. Pixlr Editor is when I’m not quite finding what I want with PicMonkey but I’m on the go. It’s as sophisticated as one can imagine for being absolutely free and gives me the right amount of quick-fire detailing that I need to get to before getting into my Adobe mindset. If I’m going to boot up Photoshop, I know I’ll be there for days working and tweaking. Pixlr is a beautiful little app that cuts those processes down dramatically.

How I Fell in Love with Google Chrome Apps

These programs are ones I use to keep my sanity at a reasonable level and you’ll notice that none of these have anything to do with the rich, casual gaming environment that Google Chrome has ventured into with its apps. You’re right. Why? Because I choose to do my gaming on a console or through Steam. I use Google Chrome to stay as productive as I can and leave the gaming for outside browser windows.

I’m curious what apps you use and if you find yourself drifting towards productivity or casual entertainment. Show off what you use and if you think (or don’t think) that including apps in browsers is far better than just simple extensions and add-ons. Our phones are like small computers in our hands that offer applications on-the-go, and Google actually gives us the opportunity to use those same tools on our computers. Excited? Elated? You know I am.