technology

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite “Being-A-Grownup” Apps

Posted by on Dec 7, 2011 in technology, Top Ten Tuesday | 5 comments

Top Ten {Tuesday}
Out of the 90+ apps I have installed on my iPad, probably more than 3/4 of them are kid-related. More often than not, you will see my little Fiona dragging it around playing Cupcakes or Parker snuggled up on the couch playing Where’s Waldo?. In fact, when I actually get a chance to get my hands on it, they are always clamoring to swipe it away from me.

I suppose I don’t blame them – the apps I use aren’t fancy or flashy – but they are apps that epitomize what makes the iPad so amazing. Interactivity…video…portability…sheer beauty…makes me want to go “ahhhh…”

So here are my top ten “Being-A-Grownup” apps in no particular order…

1. Pandora: This is one app that my kids and I both enjoy. I can listen to my JJ Heller station and the kids can listen to their Disney Channel or Wiggles station. Listening to a local radio station is so…2009, right?

2. ABC Player: This app has full episodes of quite a few ABC shows, so if you have some fans, you can watch them at your convenience. For example, I catch up on Castle episodes, while I’m cooking dinner in the kitchen, folding laundry in the basement, or flat-ironing my hair in my bedroom.

3. Pinterest: Can I really say anything bad about Pinterest? It is especially beautiful on the iPad, because you can scroll quickly, pin easily, and everything is easy to see. Plus, it gives me plenty of time to pin all sorts of things I will never have time to actually do or make…:)

4. Betty Crocker Cookbook: Somehow I stumbled onto the Betty Crocker app, and unlike some of the other cookbook apps I own, I find myself going back to it over and over again. It is easy to navigate, has simple family-friendly recipes, and well…it’s Betty Crocker!

5. Flipboard: This app is like the creme brûlée of social media apps…it turns Facebook and Twitter feeds into creamy and crunchy little nuggets of deliciousness. All the links are opened for you, and status updates read like a magazine. Love it!

6. The Weather Channel: I mostly use my phone for checking the weather, but for looking at radar, the iPad app is the best hands down. Within two touches, I am looking at full doppler radar that I can zoom in or out to see if I have time to run out before the next storm hits.

7. USA Today: This is the only news app that I use. It is easy to navigate, gives you the basics, and it even has little embedded video clips.

8. WebMD: The best part about this app is the symptom checker. You just touch the area where you are having symptoms and it quickly walks you through the questions to nail down your possible issue. Then I can take what I find…and call my Nurse Practitioner sister. 🙂

9. WordPress: I like having the flexibility to draft blog posts whenever…wherever…and this app makes it super easy. I like how I can save “local” drafts too, so I can still jot down my ideas outside of a wifi zone.

10. Zillow: Since we are in the house-selling/buying phase of our life right now, Zillow has been a lifesaver. It gives you satellite images of the area you are looking for houses, the Zestimate price of the homes, and details on what is for sale. In a word, it is…awesome.

I can imagine that you are all…Blown away! Amazed! Stupified! Astounded! But as I look at my list, it is clear proof that the best iPad apps understand what the iPad is all about – and pursue it relentlessly.

We’ve come a long way since…Frogger…

Posted by on Feb 3, 2011 in technology | 0 comments

When I was growing up, cutting edge technology in our house included a game of Frogger and my pink stereo system with a record player and dual deck tape player. These days, technology around our house is just a little bit different.  Parker jumps around playing Nickelodeon Fit on the Wii, Madi’s fingers whiz around my iPhone screen, playing her favorite game, Sally’s Spa, and Fiona?

Well, see for yourself…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMcqcplYOzY&w=540&h=310]

Chaotic life? Meet the iPad…

Posted by on May 26, 2010 in technology | 3 comments

I am a sucker for new organizational gadgets. I owned a Palm Pilot back in 2000, purchased multiple planners over the years, been certified to teach Franklin Covey’s organizational skills course, and accumulated stacks of nifty to-do note pads. If it says it will revolutionize your life, even if it is just a new type of post-it file folder tabs, it reels me in.

My favorite system was my Franklin Covey structured Outlook with my master task list, prioritized daily task list and my calendar full of my “big rocks”. It was pretty sweet, but as a stay at home mom, I don’t sit in front of a computer all day anymore.

So the last five years I have struggled with how to keep everything straight and mostly, I have spent my time carrying around a stack of sticky notes in my back pocket with all of my important information on them. I knew it had reached a tipping point when I started doing things like double booking myself…with different babysitters.

Add my love of gadgets to my desperate need to find some semblance of order in my life…and what pops out?

The iPad.

Ben actually went and waited in line to buy me one the morning that they came out, because he knew how excited I was. I think he was also excited at the prospect of seeing my teetering pile of paper cleared off the hutch…but either way, it was darn thoughtful.

Now that I have had it for a little over a month, it has exceeded my expectations. This is not just another gadget to add to my collection. It is a mobile organizational unit, kid entertainment unit, and instant information unit rolled up into one little device…the perfect thing for a busy Mom like me!

Organizationally, I have my to-do list, calendar, and e-mail in one place and I can access it…instantly. No booting up, no waiting for a signal, it is just there. I am working on getting it all synced up to my phone and laptop, and once I do…look out productivity….

For kids, it addresses learning in a very tactile way, which is perfect. I wish I was a developer, because there are so many possibilities! Parker loves his Super Why game where he has to identify the letter sounds and then trace them with his finger…how great is that!

Accessing information is just as easy, which means it sits on my counter in case I need a new pasta recipe, the phone number of The Green Well, or to show Madi how tall an elephant is.

People tend to call it a “toy” when I tell them about it, but for this organizationally challenged (and slightly obsessed) girl, it is helping me to take back control of my schedule…and de-clutter my back pockets…one touch at a time.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Technology

Posted by on Jun 29, 2009 in technology | 0 comments

I have come across a glut of articles about technology lately, especially as it related to social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. Everything from what makes a good status update on Facebook to the dangers of tweeting about vacation because you may attract burglars to whether you should announce your layoff online to studies that show the potential impact on face to face communication, even in the home.

Being that I am an active user of this technology, these articles have been kicking around in my mind, spinning off quite a few trains of thought.

One of them was brought to fruition after we watched the movie Wall-E the other night. In the movie, the human race has left earth, which is full of mountains of trash, to live on a giant spaceship. They have every convenience possible…floating chairs they ride around in, computer screens hovering in front of their faces, and meals they can drink through a straw. They are blob-like and dulled by their reliance on robots that do everything for them, including playing sports.

In one scene, Wall-E bumps into a woman, and it turns off her computer screen. She blinks, looks around, and finally sees what is around her, even saying “hey, I didn’t know we had a pool?” She then starts to notice more and more…other people, the stars, the feel of water on her toes, the touch of someone else’s hand.

The image made me squirm a little bit internally, because while it is a caricature of technology’s future, there are hints of it now.

A silly example? If I want to know the temperature outside, I will almost always check The Weather Channel on my phone instead of sticking my head outside.

It also makes me think about the classes teach and how the first thing students will do when they get to class is logon to their laptops and check their email and Facebook. A sea of faces glued to their screens, and while it isn’t everyone, sometimes I want to say, “Hello…just look up and talk to the person next to you instead of posting on their wall! Stop crafting your next clever update and look at the sun shining in the window!”

It comes through in other ways too, where I can scroll through my friend list on Facebook and see what is new or catch up on my blog reading, and they would never even know that I was checking in. It is convenient, fast, but if you aren’t deliberate about supplementing it with good old fashioned face to face communication or at least a telephone call, you can really miss out on the richness of a true give and take conversation.

I’m not going to shut down my Facebook profile or stop posting on my blog…I believe they are valuable tools. But I am going to make sure that I don’t just peruse status updates, but I interact with them…I don’t just read blog entries, but I respond to them…and most importantly, I need to remind myself to pick up the phone to say hi…make a lunch date…and look away from the technology and into the eyes of the people I care about.

— Post From My iPhone

There’s an app for that…

Posted by on Jun 16, 2009 in technology | 3 comments

My name is Rachel, and I’m addicted to my iPhone.

I never intended to join the iPhone ranks…I even came home with a much cheaper phone when we went to pick out new phones in January. It only took me about 15 minutes playing around with Ben’s iPhone to convince me to upgrade.

I’m really glad I did…not only is it convenient to check multiple email accounts easily, and has tons of cool applications, but it has been a lifesaver for me while nursing Fiona. Truly!

Back when I nursed Madi, I watched a lot of television…mostly HGTV shows like Surprise By Design and anything on the Food Network. When Parker came along, I didn’t keep the TV on anymore because of Madi, but at night I would read or whatever.

This time though, it’s all about my phone. I always have it with me because I have an awesome nursing timer application that keeps track of everything you could possibly imagine. Then while I’m nursing, it is super easy to check my email and facebook account, read the news, listen to a podcast of a sermon, play a quick game of solitaire, or write a blog entry…

It’s revolutionary…the ultimate in multitasking and it keeps me awake when I am up in the middle of the night.

Addicting? Sure. Anti-social? Once in a while. Useful? Absolutely. A much needed connection to the outside world from my very own glider? Yes…there’s an app for that…

— Post From My iPhone

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