Saturday, December 7, 2013

Evening, Javelina!

All this time living in Arizona, I have never seen Javelina up close, until now. I was leaving a client’s home Thursday night and it was around 7:45 pm. I was accelerating up a small hill when I had to hit the hooks as they were just congregating in the middle of the road! They scurried up the side of the road and continued their little meeting and I just had to stop the car and marvel at them. It was really hard to photograph what I was seeing with just my iPhone. It didn’t help that I was kinda of scared that they might charge me or that a car could come up behind me at any time. Instinct told me I should not get out of the car, but I admit I was very tempted! I decided they were a safe enough distance away from my car, so I took a deep breath, picked up my iPhone with one hand while rolling down my electric window and keeping my finger on that window button, my left foot on the clutch, right on the break, paused the podcast I was playing, brought up the camera, enabled the flash while trying to reach up with my thumb to tap the screen in an attempt at focusing on the peccary then snapped 2 photos. The super bright flash from my LED flash startled them and they began scurrying away. The photos I captured were pitch black and I was disappointed that I couldn’t capture the moment. I rolled up my window, put the phone back in my dash, engaged in first gear and slowly drove off in amazement of having witnessed these nocturnal animals. I was glad I got to see them with my own eyes.

While organizing my photos for this evening, I decided instead of discarding these back blobs that I’d try and edit them in iPhoto. It turns out I was able to get something out of one of them and as you can see here, you can almost make out the shapes of the Javelina. You can make out 3 or 4 of them in the shadows.

This is what I absolutely love about smartphone photography: the thrill of the moment. Your heart beats in your chest and you feel alive in the moment.

So many times I feel guilty because I am always snapping photos of every little thing. “Melissa, how can you be present in the moment when you’re always behind the camera?” Well, maybe everyone’s way of being present is just not the same. I felt very much alive trying to capture this moment. Not only was I present then, but I can recall that moment now any time I like and feel a sense of pride. Is this not being present in the moment?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Smartphone Photographers Point and Shoot Weekend Edition for 11-23-2013

Check out this lively discussion on sharing your photos online. We discuss apps, services and philosophies along with tips for integrating them with your photo sharing needs.

Clumsy Ninja!

Yesss!! Clumsy Ninja is finally out! I have been looking forward to this game! Are you playing it yet? Download it FREE here!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Smartphone Photographers Community Hangout for November 21, 2013

This was another fun Hangout On Air with the Smartphone Photographers Community.
(That link will take you to the Google Plus page until there is a more official link which I'll update if that happens!)

If you click this link it will take you to the part where we discuss my "Butterfly Kiss" photo at the 36 minute mark. (Otherwise watch the show from the start below.) I had fun talking discussing this photo and the other suggestions that were made sound like another cool challenge for me to try! I really enjoyed learning about High-key photography technique from Michael Sweeney and I'm looking forward to trying out the effect.

An iPhone app called FX Photo Studio was discussed and I wanted to let you know it's on sale at the time of this posting so go grab it because it looks like a winner. I haven't yet had a chance to play with it, but it's got lots of recommendations so far. There is also an HD iPad version:


What do you think of smartphone photography? Come join us sometime.



Here is the "Butterfly Kisses" image I posted. I have several more eye images I'm working on and I'll post more once I process them. You have heard of a butterfly kiss, right?


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Have Fun

Children remind us of what is simple and most important in life: have fun, the rest will follow.


Playing With The Sun
A play on words and a play on, well, play. There is this awkward time on certain days of the week in between errands and appointments, specifically about an hour before I need to go pick up Lucian from school where it's not enough time to nap or really go anywhere, so on this beautiful fall day, Keagan and I got on the floor to play. We had some little squirt guns that had been gifted to the boys over the summer. Normally I don't allow them in the house, but Keagan was being impossibly cute with the asking so I caved. I figured I could at least have some fun with it if I set some ground rules about where he was allowed to squirt the water. I set up some little targets for him to aim at and as I was showing him how to shoot the targets, the sun was coming through with such intensity so, I decided to do some shooting of my own with my iPhone 5s — also my idea of a good time. I was able to catch a rainbow AND lens flare in one shot and I'm really pleased with the results. The only editing I did was in iPhoto; just some cropping and a little bit of bumping up the contrast on this first shot. I played with some other effects in the other two shots as the challenge was all that sunlight with which to work.

love all of the elements in this shot: lines, curves, curls, shadows, rainbows, sun rays, color, highlights, the way my son's little lips are formed while he's making little sounds or thinking about where to aim.
Playing With The Sun 
Target Practice
At this time I am reminded of a newspaper clipping photo I once saw of my Grandfather as a middle school-aged child shooting a rifle at target practice during a class. I believe he was in some type of rotary gun club at school in the 1930s. Upon seeing that photo is was no wonder he later became a sharpshooter for the military during WWII. It's hard to imagine that there was ever a time when guns were in schools as a source of education if perhaps some sort of early military inculcation. 

This day, however, I chose to set those negative thoughts aside in order to have some simple fun with my son and some plastic toys that shoot water. He is innocent and unaware, just having a good time knocking little bottles and medicine cups off of triangles with water and studying the trajectory. I am not innocent, but somehow I managed to have fun with this time all the same.
Spritz

Friday, November 8, 2013

Advanced Chore Charting: iAllowance App Review

iAllowance by JumpGap Software
I have been using this app for a couple of years now and I really love where it is headed. This parenting tool is incredibly versatile with amazing attention to detail. The developer truly cares. The most recent update really looks great with iOS 7. I really appreciate how the developer keeps on making improvements and he's also really receptive to feedback! Those are important qualities to me when deciding where to invest mine and my family's time and attention to an app such as this.

First, let me get my nit-picky criticisms out of the way:

• Customizable sounds would make this a 10-★ app!

• I wish I could make the sad face sound ☹ a little louder and the cha-ching sound a tad softer and have different sounds for stars, checks, coins or time. I just think it would help. (Think Pavlov.) It's the sounds that I find the most cumbersome yet. For example, I know I could just turn the sounds off or mute the loud sounds in the app's settings, but it doesn't seem to respond yet. (bug?) I like the audible feedback, I just wish it wasn't so loud. Sometimes I forget to turn the volume back up after using this app and then my alarm goes off and I barely hear it. I'm sure this could be tweaked in another update sometime or maybe I just need to use it differently; or maybe the Dev has something up his sleeve? It's quite possible!

Now, the accolades:

• This app is universal and looks great on all iOS devices. It is still supported on an iPhone 3GS running iOS 6 which is what my littlest learner is using.

• Try before you buy: there is a lite version and a full version along with incremental in-app purchases so you can really make it fit the needs of your family. An app that grows with you — imagine that!

• I use most all of the banking features and my Second Grader has a pretty clear picture of his total net worth right now — which is more than I can say for many college grads! (self included) He enjoys looking at the pie chart and we also show him his savings account where his Birthday and Christmas checks get deposited along with Gift Certificate balances. I use my iPhone and iPad for all of our banking, which includes snapping photos to deposit checks, so both my boys can see the entire banking process.

• Right now we're only using stars for my 4-yr old along with tracking his savings account. We began using iRewardChart with both boys when they were younger so the 4-yr old is especially fond of earning "good stars" and knows that "bad stars" (his term) mean a deduction. iRewardChart has great sounds which really got their attention. (I still recommend that app for a great introduction to using chore charts!)

• I recently started filling out the description section of individual "chores" in addition to using pictures. This is great because the 4-year old can "read" each item by looking at its picture icon (which you can choose your own or select from an in-app picture bank) and the 7-year old can practice his literacy skills by reading the descriptions I enter. This cuts down on the "but wah, you didn't tell me I had to do xyz."

• Pro-Tip: view this app on your Apple TV via AirPlay and it's a great way for the whole family to become involved with household contributions. Sometimes we ask our 7-year old to review his iAllowance on the big TV and then we discuss money, transactions and things he wants added to his rewards list together.

• The best part of this app is the syncing. (Unfortunately, there is no legacy support on older devices running iOS 4, but that's an Apple  issue, not the Dev.) The ability to sync with DropBox was a long-awaited triumph and well worth the wait. Now that our little ones have their own hand-me down iDevices, this app is that much better because now they are (mostly) in charge of checking off their own Contributions and good behaviors (or negative behaviors). I love how I can lock out each child on the other's device. Our 4-year old is oh so fond of giving his big brother time outs and wanting to x-off contributions his big brother did not fulfill! We gently remind him that only parents can decide on that, but I'm glad he understands the message about being accountable for contributions to the family! (I changed the "Chore" bank to "Contributions" as it just fits us better. Yes, you can call it whatever you like. Thumbs up for tweakability!)

• Reliable syncing is absolutely crucial if you're an iFamily. It works best when children are made accountable for their own input and then parents have the ability to approve that input with feedback despite which device it's queued up on. Parents who work different shifts or even a babysitter will see the value in this feature alone!

• Bottom line, you get out of this app what you put into it. It can be overwhelming in the beginning, but investing the time to populate and customize it is worth it. If you're consistent and diligent, you'll definitely see results by using this fantastic tool!

Download it or gift it today!


If you liked this review and you haven't yet signed up for DropBox, do me a huge favor and click this affiliate link which gives us bonus cloud space! https://db.tt/9vTsqNJu

Disclaimer: I was gifted the full version of this app by the developer for the purposes of a review but no other compensation has influenced any personal bias in favor of reviewing this software.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Siri Still Has A Sense of Humor

Either Siri still has a sense of humor or she's just been trained by many a parent who use her to play the "Bad Cop" in setting a timer for Time Out. By the looks of it, she's capable of assisting even Jeffrey's Mother.

Who remembers this (one of my all-time favorites) comedy skit by Bill Cosby?

Monday, August 19, 2013

MacJournal for iOS

I'm finally getting around to trying to blog from my iPhone using the MacJournal app. I'm disappointed right away by the fact that I don't yet see a way to add an image or place a text link. This is a severely underdeveloped app! I see I can "attach" an image. What is this? An email? Even emailing a blog post is better than using this app at the moment. Lets see how posting goes.

• Ok. That was awful. First off, I attached two images and neither showed up in this post on my blog. So, I headed back here to the MacJournal app on my iPhone to see if I can amend the post. At least that part works. Coming back to the post and making changes (as I'm doing right now) seems to work out alright without the need to re-authenticate.

Before I could submit the first post, I had to authenticate through my 2-step verification several times despite already authorizing the app to post to my blog. This is a major pain and I've seen other apps that get it right so why can't MacJournal? Come on!
Tapping out text in the app is a horrible user experience. The scrolling in portrait mode is unreliable. Tapping text in landscape mode is ok, but the tools are much too close to the keyboard which makes for east formatting mistakes while tapping fast.
Formatting text is not intuitive
So lets say you want to make a word bold. In this app, you tap the 'A' button and then toggle switches for bold, italic or underline. This is redundant since it's much easier to just highlight the word and use the built-in iOS formatting.
When coming back to edit the post, all the single spaces between periods have been removed and all the hard return in between paragraphs have also been removed making it extra work to go back though and put them all back.
Changing the font size does effect the published version, but only the size changes, not the typeface so no WYSIWYG editing there.
When choosing a typeface, they show up in a boring scrollable list but just in Helvetica, not their native typeface.

Sometimes while typing really fast, the text output doesn't seem to be able to keep up and it freezes while tapping out text.

When sending the edited post back out to the blog as published, there's no real indicator that the task has completed. You just have to go to your blog, load it into Safari and refresh to view changes.
I'm not impressed by this app at all which is a shame because I own all versions of the app including for iPad and Mac and feel it was a wasted purchase even if it was on sale. I had high hopes when I used the Mac version but the iOS app versions really fall short. I'll probably delete MacJournal for iOS off my devices to make room for something better.

Monday, August 12, 2013

AirPlay or Apple Remote App Not Working? Try This

Are you looking for this:

AirPlay (double press on Home button then swipe twice to the right on Multitasking Bar)


Or this:
iOS Remote App
and not seeing one or either of these features on your iOS device?

Try this:


If you know how and are able, try changing the Channel setting on your router. This is what works for me! This is a screen shot of what it looks like on my Linksys router. Yours may or may not be similar but you're looking for this general area.

I posted this in part as a reminder to myself for figuring out how to fix this problem, but I thought you might find it useful as well. Let me know if it works for you.

The question I still have is why I need to keep changing this setting from time to time. I believe it has something to do with the fact that I now have more neighbors with routers and the channels are experiencing some kind of traffic or compromise. I don't yet know how else to explain it. One of these days I'd like to take a networking class because this stuff fascinates me. I wish I could fully understand all the ins and outs of my own router. For now, this is what I am comfortable tinkering with when it comes to my router settings and fixing the problem even if it's only temporary.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back to School App Sale: 1Password

EDIT:
Unfortunately, this sale is now over, but that doesn't mean it won't happen again. Use AppShopper, put 1Password on your Wish List and you'll be notified when the next sale occurs! Until then, read on to learn more about this great app...

One of my most favorite-must-have apps, 1Password, is on sale right now in the App Store!

GET IT WHILE IT'S HOT! (normally it's twice the price)


It's Back to School here in the southwest and pretty soon for the rest of the country. You know what that means? More user names and passwords to store for our little Digital Natives!

I just remembered I need to add money to my son's school lunch account and, since it's not something I've done all summer long, all I have to do is open my 1Password, search for "lunch" and there it is. All I need to do then is tap the hyperlinked text and it will log me right into the website.

Another great thing is that this is a Universal app which means it will work on both your iPhone AND your iPad or iPod touch! If you have a shared family Apple ID like we do, then you could have 1Password installed and synced to all the devices in your family! It really is a small price to pay for keeping everyone organized and secure — and now, that price has been cut in half!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Household Critters

Living in the southwest, it's not uncommon to find different types of critters inside your house. Geckos commonly show up at our front door, on top of it or scurry out from under a chair. They're quite cute and less troublesome than mice or other bugs I experienced out east.

Last night was a bit different because we discovered a snake for the first time! The boys and I could barely contain our excitement over observing this little creature that crawled into our home.

Here is my Flickr photo set of some various shots I took and these are my favorites.
can have snake
Curious Keagan
serpentine ring 4
Wrapped Around My Finger
on the move 3
Perssssssspective

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day One App As A Mobile Blogging Tool

How does Day One (Journal / Diary) app stack up as an integrated and mobile blogging tool?

I began this post by tapping out text directly in the Day One app with the hopes that it might serve as good on-the-go blogging tool. I'm always looking for ways to blog more efficiently from a mobile platform, hence I would actually blog more! I came to the conclusion that this app doesn't meet all of my needs yet, but I do believe it has huge potential for becoming a great mobile blogging tool if only to get a draft started so I can go back later and flesh it out more like I'm doing right now. What began as a quick, down and dirty app review is now developing into a more complete post that might benefit my readers a bit more than when it started out.

While the Day One app is a little slow to launch on my iPhone 4S, I love how easily I can type text in portrait and landscape modes. Those are two usability features I look at first when reviewing a mobile app. The ability to tap text in landscape mode can make or break an app for me.

Formatting

I appreciate the need for text formatting. I like that Day One has Markdown baked right into the text editor. It even has a built-in word counter. I am in the process of trying to learn more about Markdown so I believe this app will help me out with that quest.

Images

One place where this app falls short for me is in the ability to place images. I know it's not meant to be used the way I'm wanting to use it for mobile blogging so I don't expect a whole lot when it comes to image placement within the text, but what I do expect is multiple image capability. Currently, you can only attach one image per entry. The Camera+ integration is nice, but in my opinion, you're likely to be a bit of a shutterbug if you know what Camera+ is and vice versa. I've used other apps like Momento that allow for multiple photo insertion so I'm not quite sure why the limitation on this app.

Security

A feature I'm willing to be patient for is encryption. I want it done right. If you're going to spill your guts and journal your most private thoughts into an app, then you should feel secure while doing that. I think this is an area the developers will address soon especially with all the attention lately on NSA, data mining and secure mobile usage. If you're an app developer and your app deals with the storage of private information, security should be a laser focus for you. Currently, Day One gives you the ability to lock down your information using a 4 digit PIN. The ability to lock stuff up anymore is not just a requirement or feature but a necessity — even if it's only to keep Mommy's blog entries from being replaced with "areiu45%^##ergh;ad%&_OKDHWiwkw7&*&&&^a dfg[8a[reuw8245;oi24h5" by my 3.5 year old.

App Store Links

When I review apps it helps to give the reader a direct link to where they can purchase (free or otherwise) the app in my review. I'm still on the hunt for a better way to do this! So far, it's cumbersome at best but I have hope it will improve over time. Adding code while tapping this out on my iPhone in Day One didn't work out so well, so I had to edit it directly on my blog. That may be a user issue since I can see that there is an ability to enter code using the Markdown feature but maybe I just didn't do it correctly.
Day One is a universal app for iOS so get it here for your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad!


Day One syncs between all devices including the Mac version.


Export

One of my rules of thumb for data entry is: If you can get the data in, you must also be able to get the data out. PDF creation is another useful feature available in this app. I'm not sure how often it will come in handy for my own use case since I keep most everything digital, but I imagine it could become invaluable later if I ever decide to create some type of printed book or just want to store archives in PDF format. I don't yet know how much hard drive space this app will consume over time, so PDF export is something I'll need to investigate and report back on once I've amassed enough data to experience it first-hand. It will need to have selective export using tags and I haven't yet read the complete user guide available on the developer's support page.

The Verdict

Many times I feel like The Queen of Hearts when I'm reviewing an app. Something as simple as whether an app does not have landscape text mode can mean it's "Off with their heads!" and the app is deleted. When reviewing the use case scenario of a mobile blogging tool, Day One is good for getting a blog post started if only to go back and tweak the post later. This is all contingent on the ability of your blog platform to accept posts via email and whether or not that configuration automatically publishes the post or just queues it up for draft. Day One is a benchmark for journaling and diary apps with its ability to synchronize and port to other platforms.

I'm willing to allow Day One to keep residence on my iPhone's small hard drive while waiting for its developers to beef up security and features like adding multiple photos because it syncs up with other devices like iPad and MacBook Pro. You can pick right up where you left off no matter which device you're using and that is paramount to blogging while mobile. It's a well-designed app with a sleek interface. It feels good in the hand. Tapping out text in this app is very smooth and responsive. Day One will be sticking around for a while in my court.

I'd like to know what your favorite mobile blogging app is. Let me know in the comments!

Other Apps Mentioned In This Review

Momento is a rival for Day One, in my opinion — review to come


Camera+ is great for getting decent shots of busy toddlers


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Words With Woz

I'm playing Words With Friends...With Woz.
Try saying that ten times fast!
Try playing this game – or any other game – against a genius and see how you feel!
#nervous

Hand-Made iPhone Tip:
Whenever you fear the memory zombies will make you forget your next potential move, Skitch it.
(of course, this also applies to iPad, but I prefer playing Words With Friends on my iPhone)

1. Take a screen shot of your current screen by holding down the home button then immediately press once on the 'lock' button at the top of your iPhone. You must press the lock button immediately while holding the home button because if you hesitate too long, SIRI will beep.

2. Launch Skitch and tap the plus + sign in the upper right corner.

3. Navigate to your Camera Roll in the photos (yes, you want Skitch to have access to your photos) and select the screen shot you just snapped

4. Use Skitch to annotate your screen shot to remind you of your next move

You can use Skitch for so many occasions. I use it all the time for tech support. It's so easy to say, here, see this? Tap here and then draw and arrow or circle something. Most times when people are lost, so are their eyeballs, so it's helpful to show them exactly where to look. It's one of my very favorite apps and I've been using it for years now since it was a baby website!

Get Skitch for iPad
Get Skitch for iPhone

Get Words With Friends for iPhone

Get Words With Friends for iPad



Friday, July 19, 2013

Find The Clownfish

I recently saw a link to this article about clownfish and it made me think of Apple and Steve Jobs. Whenever I see a clownfish I think Finding Nemo, of course, but being a geek, I also visualize one of the standard-issue Apple Desktop pictures. Thinking about that then leads me to wonder just how these iconic desktop backgrounds are selected to become a part of the OS installed on all Macintosh computers. Can you imagine the hundreds, or even thousands of photos the Apple OS designers pour over? Every time there is an OS upgrade, one of the very first things I ever do is to go check out what new desktop backgrounds come pre-installed. For some reason, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in doing this. If anyone does know how the images are selected or has photo credit information for this or any of them, I've love to know.


A long-time friend once told me a cute story about Steve Jobs while we were catching up on Facebook. She knows I'm an Apple Geek and told me she works out in Silicon Valley right off of Woz Way. (I'm envious and must go visit, of course!) Her friend's husband is the Facilities Manager at Apple. One time he was sent to Steve Job's office because he had set of Finding Nemo cast figurines from Pixar on his credenza. Apparently Steve had run into it with a cart or something which resulted in one of the figures falling behind it. Can you guess what the note said?


He needed someone to "Find Nemo."


I love that story. I can only hope that the Facilities Manager kept that note. I know I would have!


I believe Steve Jobs even resonated with the clownfish — identified with it somehow. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article on the Clownfish. If you're an Apple Geek like me, you might see the same parallels.


It's also interesting to note that Finding Nemo is one of the few DVDs that will still play on our 1999 Tangerine iMac G3! You can even still use the screen savers and play the bonus DVD content! Makes ya wonder, doesn't it?

What is your favorite Pixar character or desktop background? I'm always looking for new backgrounds for my desktop so share if you have a link to one you really like!

Who else is excited to see Finding Dory in 2015?!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Toddler Loves Photo Booth on iPad

And here I was wondering why the iPad was running out of space! Attack of TheKeaganator!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

99 Pennies for Your Thoughts?


This young man was diagnosed with bone cancer and died just this past Monday at the age of 18. Before he died, he recorded this song as a way to say goodbye to his family and friends. It's now number 1 on iTunes. If you buy this uplifting (tear-jerking) song, the proceeds go to cancer research.

Shed a tear, spend a buck, then maybe one day cancer won't suck.


Cover Art

Clouds - Single

Zach Sobiech Pop
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  2167 Ratings

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Go Ahead, Pitch Me

Almost daily I receive emails from marketers and app developers asking me if I'll review or write something about their product or app on my blog. Almost daily I need to turn down these offers. While it is a good problem to have, it's no small challenge trying to keep up with the onslaught of requests (good, bad and downright ugly) in addition to caring for myself, my family and running my own small consulting business! Darn those priorities!



So many times I regret having to turn down opportunities for product and app reviews because despite the work and time they take, I sincerely do enjoy reviewing apps and products. It's only too bad that there just aren't enough hours in the day to fit it all in. Don't tell anyone, but I'm a bit of an appaholic. Ok, so that's not exactly a secret and being a mom with a blog makes me a bit of a target when it comes to marketers looking for free or next-to-nothing advertising. The even sadder truth is that I know I'm not alone. There are so many great content creators out there whose expertise really benefit fledgling companies. There is real gold to be mined out there. Promotion and endorsement is an art that ought not be taken for granted, so you really need to make your requests shine.

That is why I am recommending this book to anyone who has come to my blog or visited my growing social graph hoping to get a review or recommendation from me. I really do want to review your app or product, but please, do your homework and make it your duty to read this book and heed the advice. Make it worth our time — yours, mine, my readers' and your consumers'!

Pitch Perfect: The Art of Promoting Your App on the Webcontains fantastic advice from many of my smart friends on the subject and then some! If you read carefully, you'll even find a thing or two in there from me! (That's my way of disclosing to you that I made some minor contributions to this book.)

This book is available in the iBookstore, on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback as well as from Pearson.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tech Tuesday Hangout No. 5

Today I covered for Benjamin Roethig who normally hosts the Tech Tuesday Hangout live each week. (to be populated soon with video) It was a fun learning experience baptism-by-fire-style on how to host, broadcast, record, edit and publish a Google Hangout! I was joined in discussion by Patrice Brend'amour, Doc Rock and Steve Sande. We talked about a wide range of topics including but not limited to: iOS Game Center leader boards, gaming consoles, apps, Steve's revised book release, Doc's funded Kickstarter project, Patrice and Ben's new website as well along with several other topics that came up. You can even learn how to avoid being eaten by a shark with one simple tip! You don't want to miss it, so watch our discussion unfold and do come back and join us next Tuesday!

Show notes with links are on their way and I'll revise the post once I enter them all.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Damn. Even Siri Thinks I Talk Too Much

I can't win.

I asked Siri to:
"text my husband:

'Josh's graduation party is tonight. What time do you think you'll be home because I'd really like to crash for a few hours before we go. Is that a possibility?'

The screenshot above was Siri's response.

She quotes M*A*S*H characters now? How did she know I like M*A*S*H???

Hmmmm. Now I wonder if she can do Cheers?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Custom iPad App List for a New iPad Owner

I get frequent requests for app recommendations so I'm starting to make tailored app lists to share with friends and family. Here is an app list for new iPad owners.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

App Review: Max's Pirate Planet - A Board Game Adventure

This is our family review of the universal iOS app "Max's Pirate Planet - A Board Game Adventure." Whether playing together as a family of 4 or 1 on 1 or as a single player, this game has been fantastic fun for the whole family!

When we have visitors or play dates, this is the game the kids ask me to set up on the Apple TV to play and share with their friends.

We'd like to thank Slant Six Games for the loot, err, um, for gifting this app for a review!

Click here to get this game for your family, available on multiple platforms:

iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices, click here:


Android devices, click here:
Get it on Google Play

Kindle Fire devices, click here:

Here is a home movie (10 minute sample) of one of our first game sessions together. As you can see, there was much delight. Even Keagan, our 3-year-old likes to play with assistance. It's nice to play a multi-player game where he doesn't feel left out for a change.



The graphics are beautifully drawn with careful attentions to detail. I love how the characters sail in their ships when crossing water, but get out and walk on dry land. The voice artists are top-notch. Game play is very smooth and not too predictable.

Form Factors
We have played this game on both an iPhone 4S and a 4th-generation iPad on the local screen as well as streamed to our Apple TV. Both form factors worked great. Playing it on the iPad is nice for when there are 2 players whether it's a parent and child or 2 siblings because of what I like to call the "Hand-Held Device Cuddle Factor." Personally, as much as I love to see my boys play physically with each other like little puppies, I also love to watch them cuddle up on the couch with each other to play a game on our iPad. Max's Pirate Planet encourages taking turns and cheering each other on with a healthy dose of friendly competition. This is something my 6- and 3-year-olds really need right now during these formative years.

Playing this game on the iPhone is more comfortable for 4 players passing the device around while viewing it together on the Apple TV. It's kind of like hot potato. When it came time to do a duel on the iPhone I was initially concerned with two fingers swiping on that smaller scree, but it worked surprisingly well I'm sure it had nothing to do with my ability to kick my husband's butt in the sword fighting challenge

Come On, Girls!
If I had one criticism it would only be to add more girl pirate characters from which to choose. As a mom in a house full of boys, I'm the only girl pirate here, Yarr!

Piratey Pirates
Normally, as a parent, I'm a bit squeamish about the idea of "encouraging" pirate culture, but I have to say, this app has done it tastefully in a fun way that doesn't encourage or promote violence. It allows the player to role play pirate-esque adventures in a creative, challenging and safe way. Even Skully the Skeleton manages to skip creeping me out. He's my oldest son's favorite character and he rushes to choose him each time we play. My younger son is in to all things red, so he loves Rusty the fox.

Go Ahead, Duel Me In.
My favorite part is dueling! I especially like sword fighting. I'd like to see other types of duels beyond just the two currently available: sword fighting and cannons. The family and I discussed what types of duels we'd like to see and we were immediately faced with the challenge of trying to avoid something that might promote violent behavior if not carefully planned out. Lucian, our 6 -year-old, suggested a pistol gun fight duel. We as parents couldn't think of a way game developers could avoid becoming mired in the whole gun violence issue we're currently facing as a nation here in the U.S. so we decided that wasn't something we could get behind suggesting as a feature request.

More Monsters, Please!
We all agreed that we'd like to see new monsters to challenge in future app updates. The current monsters are great — so great that we think the app developers will have fun coming up with more monster characters to eat us — uh — I mean — for us to beat for a chance to win treasure!

I really hope you consider either getting this app for your family or gifting it to a friend. It's a real...treasure!

Check out more from Slant Six Games Inc.

Friday, April 26, 2013

You're Shipping Me

I Just Shipped My Mom



My kids know how to crack me up and I especially lose it when sleep-deprived.

We get such a giggle from this KMart commercial. They don't understand the double entendre so that makes it just that much more hilarious to me.

Happy [early] Mothers' Day
Enjoy a giggle, it's on us.

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