Monday, July 14, 2014

23 Mobile Things #23: Evaluate 23 Mobile Things

(pant, pant, pant)  Okay, I've done it!  I managed to complete all 23 Mobile Things.  It was a marathon, and I sincerely wish I would have been able to start it sooner, but am very, very glad I was able to make it through all.

I am very grateful that the Minnesota Multitype Library Systems decided to do 23 Mobile Things.  I very much loved the 23 Things On A Stick because I learned so much from that experience and when I found I did not have enough time to learn how to effectively use my new iPad, the arrival of 23 Mobile Things was a god-send.

I learned about so many productively tools that will help enhance my use of the iPad and make me as "mobile" as the iPad itself (one of the reasons for getting an iPad).  There are apps I learned about that will be extremely useful in conference setting and also at meetings as well.

My most favorite discoveries were how to take screen shots, the Bamboo paper, the interactive whiteboards, Puffin browser (really like it alot), having a Microsoft Office suite on my iPad -- okay I could keep going on and on about what I really liked.  There were some apps that were fun to try out, but that I will probably delete later -- I will still be testing out some of the apps I downloaded to see which ones have the features I like the most.

It was a bonus that I had also just recently got a smartphone, so that I could try things out in tandem and see which worked better for my phone and which worked better for my iPad.

There were no unexpected surprises to this program -- I expected to have fun, to learn alot and come away with increased knowledge about my iPad, my smartphone and how apps worked on mobile devices -- and 23 Mobile Things certainly delivered.

I certainly hope that you will provide a future 23 Things -- maybe when everything goes to holograms.  I very much enjoy doing 23 Mobile Things, and look forward to future 23 Things.

One word description:  AWESOME!

23 Mobile Things #22: Discovering Apps

I have downloaded the Apps Gone Free.  I can see where this will be a very useful way to find free apps, and also a way to find the most ridiculous and fun apps.  Just now, after downloading the app and seeing what was available for free today, there is an app just for wind chimes.  All it is (of course I downloaded the app -- I love wind chimes) is a a wind chime, gently swaying in the breeze -- until you swipe at it (I found it out when trying to see if there was anything else to this app) and the chime stricker will swing all sorts of directions, depending on how you swipe at it.  And then it settles down to a gentle chime -- and unlike a real chime, the sound tubes don't get tangled up.

Another value of the day, is SmartScan -- you can scan, crop, edit, save and e-mail receipts, bills, etc. and it finds the edges of the object -- and you have some flexibility in determining that, control contrast and light and color.  It is pretty easy to use and has a function where you can take multiple scans of an object without having to actually "take" multiple takes.

I do like Quixey -- it is difficult to find free apps at the Apple store, even when you use the search box.  Quixey is easy to use, provides much better and relevant results and includes pricing information.  This will be the place I will go when I am looking for a new app.  

23 Mobile Things #21: Free-For-All

For this Thing, I decided to look for apps that continued the "hobbies" Thing.  I like to go hiking -- not extreme, but a decent walk in woods, along rivers, lakes, and so forth, where I can enjoy nature, or landscapes or even architecture.  The walks/hikes themselves can be anywhere from a mile long to several miles, depending on the terrain (knees are getting too old for too much up and down).  So here are the following free apps that I have found:

Field Trip:  this an app that was developed by Google and provides you with a list of all sorts of places to go based on your interests.  You can select architecture, historic places & events, lifestyle, foods,drinks & fun, cool & unique and art & museum.  It uses your location to find places near you, provides a map, information about the place and if any ratings exist.

All Trails:  this app, using your location, searches out all sorts of hiking and walking trails.  It tells you how long the walk/hike is, provides directions to the hike from your current location, where there are other nearby trails, ratings for the trails.  You can also filter by type of activity, such as if you are looking for birding trails, horseback riding trails, etc.  You can also filter by features of the trails -- can you bring a dog, is there a lake, waterfalls, wildlife viewing, etc.  And if you want easy, moderate or hard hikes.  You can record your various tracks, and individually record each hike -- how many miles, how long it took you, pictures you took along the way, etc.

and the last app is MapMyHike, which is similar to All Trails, but concentrates on the workout aspect of hiking.  You turn it on when you start at your walking/hiking location (or run, road cycling, cross country, dog walking, and so on), can have "coaching" turned on or off, add music, live tracking.  You select your route -- there is a route wizard that uses your location to map out a route  and gives you the number of miles, how far away it is, a map of the hike, elevation information for the different parts of the hike.  There is even a nutritional aspect, where you can record foods, how much water was consumed and calories used.  

Both of the above apps can be very useful with regards to a "healthy workplace."  My institution promotes a healthy lifestyle and one of the things they will provide are step meters.  The use of the above two apps would be going a few "steps" farther in keeping healthy in the workplace.

23 Mobile Things #18: Education

Similar to games or hobbies, the apps listed in the Thing can be addictive.  It was rather hard to stop trying out a score of apps --- and continue my education in a variety of ways.  There are a couple of these apps that I think I will keep around, while a few are good for a short period of time.

I tried out the Eat This Not That app -- and was finished with it in no time.  Not that I got everything right, but the free version is very limited and I quickly went through it.  Since it is a timed "game", I mostly just took stabs in the dark, based on my somewhat sketchy knowledge of what foods you should be avoiding.  Probably would have done better if I had more time to think about and study each food set presented.  

The 3D Brain is pretty cool, with the ability to rotate and get deeper into the various parts of the brain itself.  I can see where this one could be very helpful for people studying the brain or have questions about how the brain works.

artCircles has a really interesting presentation, and depending on how you spin the circles, the types of art you can view changes.  This app has the power of several hours of entertainment and education.  I could learn a good deal about the different art genres, while just enjoying the art itself.  I do like to go to art museums, so this becomes a "pocket" art museum.

Google Earth is just plain fascinating, especially when you start looking up your own location.  The app version doesn't get down to street level, but with enough detail that you can recognize your own dwelling.  I just discovered the settings, when I could add panoramic photos option.  That puts little squares that you can tap on to the map for photos of that area.  That is helpful when you can't get down to street level.

Science 360 is another one of those apps that will take time to enjoy, browse and learn much from.  Swiping around the 360 view can make one dizzy, but tapping into each picture and the info that goes with each picture is a delight.  Won't get bored waiting for an flight with this app available.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Duolingo app.  I couldn't test out of my second language German, (okay it has been several years since I used it).  With this app I can dust off my rusty language skills (mixed metaphor there) -- I do like that it is both a visual and audio learning app.  I realized I could have done better in the testing out if my language spelling skills were better (I did better in translating written into English than English in German).  What I didn't check for is if it also includes learning to speak the language -- I would not be surprised if it does.

23 Mobile Things #12: books, Books & More Books

I sort of left this Thing towards the end, as I haven't yet jumped on the fiction ebook bandwagon -- don't own a Kindle or Nook.  When I read for pleasure, I prefer the look and feel of a physical book.  It fits in with the way I read, works better for me physically and right now I know that any physical book I acquire will be around (barring water and fire and pure-absentmindedness) for the next couple of years, with no software or hardware upgrades needed except for maybe a new pair of glasses.

I do use e-versions of non-fiction materials almost constantly in my work and home-life.  The ease of using the internet to find and retrieve information does make life easier and saves scores of time.  That said, however, having an app (Free Books) that gives me access to thousands of older fiction, in the public domain, is certainly worth exploring.  There are many books listed that I have heard about, one way or another, but never had to chance to read or get my hands on.  With an ebook, it is much more easy to abandon a book, if it turns out not to be to your liking (especially if it is free, of course), you feel less obligated to finish it.  I do like that you can upload the titles to Dropbox, so as to store and read on a multitude of devices.  I do not expect to physically acquire these books -- unless by reading the eversion I feel I need the physical copy as well, which is something I think many people are doing, reading the ebook and then occasionally buying a copy of the physical version as well.

I also have yet to get into audio books.  I tried a few years ago, but never finished the one book I had bought.  Since the Audiobooks app is free only for streaming, that does limit its usefulness for such things as long trips.  A paid version, when you can download the audio book for later, unconnected listening, would be useful on long car trips or plane trips.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

23 Mobile Things #20: Games

I am not much of a gamer -- never did own an XBox or a Wii or anything similar.  Being close to OTD, I use to play the DOS version of Doom (didn't care for all of the shooting, but loved the exploring and finding all the hidden treasure).  I also use to play Myst and Tomb Raider -- without joysticks (just the up/down left/right arrows and space bar).  With the internet, I usually do card games (solitare) and got addicted for a while for a word game called "letter garden."  I have also played versions of candy crush -- Jewel Quest is the most common.  I like games with some brain challenge, so of the games listed in this thing, the ones I enjoyed trying out the most were WordCollapse and WordWarp (Word Warp is very similar to Letter Garden).  Temple Run, in a word, is exhausting.  I think I killed myself at least 10 - 15 times before I finally figured out the finger sweep that kept me on the causeway.  I also found it made a good deal of difference once I turned the tutorial function on -- killed myself left frequently and got farther into the game.

I do play games as a way to relax from what I am currently doing, and I play crossword puzzles first thing in the morning to get my brain in gear for the day.  For me games that involve some thinking (not too much or it would be work instead of a game), are more fun.  For instance, Temple Run as a game would be more appealing to me if it involved trying to find hidden treasure, rather than just running and jumping and sliding and smashing into coins to gather them.  That doesn't mean that I won't end up playing it more just to see if I can master the whole running, jumping, sliding and whatever else is in store the farther you get into the game.

There are limits to the free versions of some of the games, where you can play them to a certain point and then need to pay for the upgrade in order to continue on.  This is going to be the issue with WordCollapse.  I have been sweeping through the categories quickly and will soon use up my free sections.  Also, for some of the free apps, it is annoying to have pop-ups all the time asking you to download yet another free game -- but, I guess , if you go free, that is what you "pay" for.

23 Mobile Things #19: Hobbies

None of the apps listed really appealed to me, so I found one that did -- craftgawker lite.  When I have the time (which unfortunately is seldom lately), I love to do crafty things.  Craftgawker lite (the free version) is a lovely way for looking for craft ideas.  You can scroll through the pictures, either looking at the latest posts, what have been popular, or you can search by keyword for those crafts that most interest you, or have aspects that you are interested in -- for example, I have been interest lately in anything that has to do with "tea."  On Craftgawker lite, I found body scrubs made with tea, soaps, bird feeders made out of teacups and saucers, knitted tea cozys, tea towel printing using lemons as stampers, tea potpourri and so much, much more.  Once you create an account and log-in, by tapping on the picture, you get to the directions or recipes for the crafts well as save your favorite photos by tapping on a heart icon.

There is also a category section, so if you don't want to search, you can look at things via categories, such as bath & body, candles, knitting, clay & pottery and so on.  There is a Craftgawker website, and the mobile app links to the website.  New pictures are posted weekly.