Monday, April 22, 2013

Ms App Runs

Ms Application Runs

Well, I recently ran the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Yes, it was incredibly, amazingly fun and touches your inner girly heart. You have to know that Disney does it right – and even over the top, magical. I have nothing to compare it to, because it was my first, but I suspect it may be benchmark for fun and magic. (Imagine fireworks being displayed as your group starts the race in early morning. Imagine running through the Magic Kingdom in your tutu and hearing gasps of amazement. You look into the alcove and see a handsome guy runner dressed as Prince Charming PROPOSING to a really lovely woman runner dressed as Snow White! See? – magical) My only disappointment was that this event doesn’t appear have it’s own app. I can be tenacious about finding the perfect app – so if anyone can tell me there is one for this event, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! OK, I’m calm now..
I have to admit I constantly use my favorite apps for training. They really keep me on track everyday, even when I want to veer off. In order of importance to me – here are my absolute favorites:
MyFitnessPal: To me it’s soo important now to get the right mix of fuel for my body so I can run. This app helps me keep track not only of how many calories I’m consuming but charts out the ratio of protein, fat and carbs for me as I go along. It also can scan a bar code. How easy is that?? I was impressed. It charts my progress but at least I know where I stand, month to month, week to week. It can also take into consideration the amount of extra calories I might need if I run a lot. Really helpful and easy to use and your friends can get involved (how motivating!!!) The only thing I didn’t see on this is the glycemic index for food, but right now I’m not complaining.
Endomondo: Love this app! It can verbally tell me the distance I’ve run, map out my route for me, give me my heart rate, and give me points. It also can track my running history and connect with my running friends. For me, I don’t feel I need an upgrade for to much more – I like to keep things simple.
Stretch Guru: Speaking of simple – this is great for when you really don’t want to stretch after a run. Because it’s cheerful and short and simple. It times out the stretch and has simple visuals. You can make it a little more involved if you wanted to customize your routine or chart your progress, but after a run, when visions of Epsom salts in a hot bath takes over my brain,this one is just right for me.
Chakra Pro: I understand the concepts of chakras somewhat but I’m not exactly sure why this works so well for me. It’s wonderful for meditation even if for 5 minutes a day. Soothing nature sounds and chimes customized for whichever chakra you want to sooth. A great balance to the stress of running. Try it once – you might become a believer like me.
These apps all work together to make me not only feel great but proud of myself! You might find that too! Happy health!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ms. App Plays Games

Oh yes I do! The demographics of who plays games is a fascinating subject in and of itself. Books have been written on why we play them. Like the great book," Reality is Broken" written by one of the most engaging intellectuals I've ever heard speak, Jane McGonigal. Read that book for the smart answer.I know this sounds like an excuse - but I tell myself play games on my iphone when I want to think. So I'm not wasting time - I'm thinking! Really. The games can't be too difficult because I also want to end up on a leaderboard somewhere. When I'm in thinking mode, I'm not so crazy about interacting with a thousand other people from all over the word - which can be fun and interesting sometimes, I admit, but I've broken these down into two categories. The first few simple game apps listed are ones where I don't find many players interacting with me. The ones further down the list are made for guilds and teamwork and socializing.

Solitaire by Mobile Ware: Yup, the perfect leisurely game to play by yourself. Nope. Not leisurely. This is the timed version. Hand it off to a teen if you want to be awed and amazed at how fast someone can actually play solitaire. I sometimes try to emulate that speed but a lot of times I spend on strategizing and making myself slow down. I rarely play against another player, which is an option through the Game Center on my iPhone, because  it makes me nervous and I mess up.  Ooh the tension! lol. My hands start to shake. So I play it slow and, yes, I think.

Gems With Friends: I love this game too much. Today I am number 3 on the weekly leaderboard and now have won 80% of the time today. It's great because the games are timed so you only play 2 minutes at a time against on other player for three rounds. Of course if you play 10 games in a row you say "Holy Crap! I've just wasted 20 minutes!" Nope, chances are you were thinking because the concept of lining up three gems of the same color is so simple. No other player has ever has bothered to say anything to me, so I appreciate that, while in thinking mode. Look for my name, "Wow! I". I chose that name so that when I beat you, you get the message "Wow! I Beat You" Satisfyingly sophomoric if I win and kind of amusingly stupid if I lose. More reason to win!!

Matching With Friends: Not timed but similar idea with matching tiles in groups of threes. There are strategies to learn, which is easy to do because you are allowed to observe other players moves. Other players only leave messages if they want to "Nudge" you back into the game or say "Wow, good move!" One HUGE amusement for my simple mind is the fact that some genius created songs that you can play simply by tapping unused tiles on the board. "What is that song?" you will ask as you are playing tiles as well as you have ever played the piano. Oh look for "Wow! I" here also. But be warned that I win 90% of the time.

Big Fish Casino: I am always broke here but that doesn't stop me! Lots of new interesting games to try. Free chips every day. Recently, I saved my free chips for days and played wisely and grew it into millions!!! MUHAHAHA!!! Then, of course I lost it in a burst of optimism. Still very fun although maybe I don't think much while playing this game except about being greedy. Players do interact, but if you are quiet and don't post an obnoxious picture, people generally are just very polite.

Kingdoms at War: A very immersive RPG game to play on a phone. You join guilds, level up by participating in wars or stealing from other guilds. There's world chat, clan chat, allies chat. You can literally chat with the people from all over the world while you are waiting to regen. (regenerate your power between acts of war!) You build up your kingdom and your own levels.  Really amazingly well done and was my fix for World of Warcraft. It can be time consuming and I was amazed at how meticulously people ran their guilds. Chat is monitored and some guilds may also use other social media to get to know each other but that may lead to too much familiarity and pettiness. (No, I don't want to admire pictures of you sitting on the lawn in your wedding dress or see the catch of the day from ice fishing adventures if I don't really know you. This may be sour grapes on my part though. Miss sitting-on-the-lawn-in-her-wedding-dress kicked me out of a guild for not leveling up fast enough) You can decide how immersed you want to be. Still, an admirably well done for a phone.

 Please be mindful of allowing apps to link to any other bits of social media you have. I almost unfriended a close relative on Facebook because I didn't think I could stand be invited to play her favorite game one more time.

Now you have it. Some ideas about what is out there.  Let me know what you're favorite game apps are. I am always looking for more!

Happy Gaming!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Travel Apps!

In my recent excitement before traveling to Europe, I forgot to research and download new apps for each location. My bad!! Finding wifi isn't always easy while traveling and - well, you know the drill, logging onto airport and into hotel wifi can be tricky at best. By the time you've transported from the airport, check-in, put away your stuff, figured out how to use the safe you think you've lost half a day anyway. So DON'T DO WHAT I DID! Save time and hassle -download some great apps before your trip so you can be ready to use them.

Some wonderful examples of travel apps that I found after the fact, but enjoy immensely even now, include:

Positano Video Guide:  A really magnificent and charming app. Thank you, Chaira D'Amico, manager of the company "Workin'Video"that created this benchmark application. Not only is it visually beautiful (even the border color reminds me of the lemons that grow in that gorgeous town of Positano) but it contains such relevant information listed on the first page - history, walking tours, food, hotel, shopping etc. Some of the information is presented in video - other information is written in clear, interesting dialogue set against some spectacular photos. Honestly, read the food section just for a thrill. I now want to go back to visit some of the places I missed! This app seems to represent the pride people have in their wonderful corner of the world, as well as care in presenting it well to a potential visitor. I think I'd be interested in seeing anything created by this company. Very well done.

Go Riviera!: This app was just a lot of fun. Kimberley Lovato, the author and freelance travel writer, did a good job, I must say. Especially under "filter" it was possible to find easy to read explanations of what it was like to be in Cannes during their many festivals (besides the International Film Festival, who knew they even have an International Air Festival where they fly kites??), which beaches were which, and where the restaurants and casinos are. She even included tourist offices and hospitals under "helpful info". She also included a section for tourists to give added tips. Very thorough and could be much appreciated especially for those with children in tow. The photo section was not only in retrieving information. Well worth downloading and includes impressive amount of relevant inform in fresh way.

Lucerne Festival: This is so beautifully well done that the minute I saw it, I wanted to turn around and run back to Switzerland! It includes beautiful videos of local scenes scored with magnificent music.  It also includes short, compelling interviews from young international musicians, composers and conductors. Bravo for capturing the essence of this classical musical festival. Although I had no idea that this festival existed until viewing this app, finding it underscores my reasons for researching apps for any place that I'm even thinking of visiting.

There you have it - my best advice - check out your apps before packing your bags!  You can use these apps to plan trips, navigate while you are traveling and relive some great times afterwards. Great travels!

Monday, February 4, 2013


Nothing causes such a stir of excitement within me as when I first learn that something or someone has an app! I'm not quite sure why or how this started, but I am excited to share some of my personal reviews. I have an iPhone so I may have pockets of ignorance on how apps perform on any other platform. I welcome any and all corrections and information you can give me. I've included games (a must have) and individual apps I've found that work for me. I  currently have so many apps that I rotate them according to need and update or add to them as new features become available.

Some of my new absolute favorites (forgive my enthusiasm - really... I get frequent directives from my daughter to "take this down a notch"):

JETPACK JOYRIDE! Woohoo - how fun is this?? The graphics are outstanding for that little guy and his jetpack and really fast. No matter that I stink at these games because I don't have that inherent quickness reserved for teenage gamers, I come back again and again because even if I am really awkward and slow - my score will seem pleasantly high and I will advance to a really cool next level. Sound effects are explosive and pleasing even when I get electrocuted - Wow - see how much I've already identified with little jetpack guy? - Hey nothing better than an app devoted to my own personal website page that I can create from there or my computer! And I have to admit, the one reason I got really excited about this page was that I can link to so many of my own personal social media sights. Its so convenient and offers a great, one stop visual option for people to see everything I am up to.

Walmart and Target and Wegmans - Good on you all!! I love store apps because it eliminates the guesswork for questions like "I wonder if Walmart has Japanese rice crackers?" Yes they do - and the helpful folks at Walmart have more to go on if I walk in there with knowing exactly what I am looking for. Also, this is wonderful for locating stores wherever I am or even ordering products online. I like the Target app best - it's visually pleasing because of their crisp, clean graphics and intuitive layout. Well done!

Some that have been my favorite for quite a while:

Word Lens: Oooooooh don't get me started on augmented reality. I am so enamored by this. I'm sensing googlization here for some of you - so be my guest if you need to stop and got to wikipedia. This app is such a practical use of augmented reality, which is, in my basic terms - real life aided by computers.

Get this - I open the app, point it at a sign or document in another language and IT TRANSLATES IT FOR ME, INSTANTLY!!  I envision myself as a veritable heroine when I go to Europe. I can see myself surrounded by bewildered Americans - say, lost in Italy! I proudly point this app at a lengthy, confusing sign and translate it for everyone. Crisis averted - now that we know where we are...murmurs of appreciation surround me. Better yet, I will be able to tell everyone at the table exactly what is on a menu in France and how much it costs!! The add-ons for various languages in this app are extra. I say it's worth it for me. I've studied many languages and frequently mix them up. (Imagine French and Spanish in the same sentence. Imagine how many polite, yet confused looks I've gotten in Europe already.)

String - Augmented Reality Showcase - I recommend this to everyone who wants to be totally amazed and get a sense of what augmented reality can do. If I tried to explain it here you may think I am mad - it's that incredible. Think holograms that you can manipulate on your iPhone and computer. Nuff said. Please try it.

This is all the tip of the iceberg. I'll continue my app rant in future blogs. Again, please feel free to share any info you may have.