Monday, August 30, 2010

Top iPad Games of the Week

Apps Discussed

Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials: A famous writer has died during a freak snowstorm. Gather clues, interview ghosts, and travel back in time to get to the bottom of this creepy story.

Rune Magic Plus: Peer into your future through the study of ancient runes. A must for amateurs and rune experts alike.

Battleship for iPad: Basic, fun take on this classic game. Can’t beat free!

Medieval HD Lite: Unique castle defense game that’s playable by newbie’s and veteran gamers alike.

Reviews

From rune divination to a creepy retelling of the real-world Salem Witch trials, we’ve got some early Halloween apps that are sure to entertain. Toss in a Battleship clone and a medieval shooter, and you’ve got yourself a solid collection of fresh iPad game apps for the week.

Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials ($9.99)
Midnight Mysteries: Salem Witch Trials ($9.99) is the perfect app to get you into the Halloween state of mind.Nathaniel Hawthorne has died during a blizzard, and the ghost of this famous writer has returned, asking you for help. You can free his spirit, but only after spending many hours examining the clues in a multitude of locations, using the iPad’s pinch and zoom feature to get up close and personal with dozens of objects. You’ll travel through time back to the Salem Witch trial days, interview pasty ghosts, solve puzzles, and collect objects.

Rune Magic Plus (6.99 for a limited time)
Beyond tarot cards and the usual psychic readings in dark parlors, there’s runes. For generations these inscripted stones have led people to a better understanding of their destiny, complete with details about love, health, business, and even fortune. Maybe. Rune Magic Plus (6.99 for a limited time) will help iPad users study rune divination in the comfort of their home. Rune meanings are clearly displayed, and you can cast runes to give you advice, forsee your future, and solve pressing problems. An entertaining way to delve into a potentially revealing universe, just in time for Holloween.

Battleship for iPad (FREE)
Hey, you sunk my battleship! Grab this free app and start attacking your opponent’s fleet. Battleship for iPad is certainly basic, but for $0, it’s a solid addition to any iPad gaming app collection. Avoid one common frustration and use two fingers to pivot your ships into a vertical position when placing your boats. One quibble – who thought adding two one-square boats would make this classic better? It’s certainly harder and adds more luck to each win.

Medieval HD Lite (FREE)
Put on your chainmail, pick up your helmet, and prepare to get downright medieval. Medieval HD Lite (FREE) is packed with top-quality graphics and offers iPad owners a unique castle defense game that’s playable by newbie’s and veteran gamers alike. Upgrade your weapons as you progress, recruit fighters to help defend your castle, and stay alive through wave after wave of baddies. Four levels for $0 plus – gasp! – fireballs launched from catapults equals a must-have little gem of an app.

Double Rainbow



Hearing people talk about "double rainbows" lately? Here's the source of this YouTube meme. Play and enjoy the original above, and a few of the MANY remixes below.





Paradox Cottage @ Lake Kerr
Near NC and VA state borders...







Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grocery iQ (Android)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
A free app that saves you time and money every time you head out to the grocery store. Even DROID owners need to eat, right?

BUMMER:
Can’t create or edit shopping lists via the Web. Missing some major chain stores.

COOL:
Store the price of your favorite items and easily compare it across multiple stores. Displays coupons right in your DROID screen for use in any grocery store.

REVIEW:
If you’re looking for an app to help you grocery shop, save money, and do it all in less time, Grocery iQ (FREE) has you covered.

Put away your pen and pad and pick up your DROID; you can build a new shopping list by speaking aloud (voice recognition), scanning a barcode, or using predictive search via a keyboard.

Easily tag specific items to appear in your Favorites list, then grab coupons delivered right to your handset. The first cashier who I handed the phone to was a little perplexed, the beep didn’t lie. Saved $2.25 on my last trip alone, and impressed my wife to boot.

With more than 100 coupons currently online, you can’t go wrong.

On top of it all, if your local chain store is listed, the app can help plan your shopping route ahead of time. Navigating the store has never been easier, saving you time as well as money.

Although you can’t create a new list via the Web (which I hope is in the works) you can share your list between DROIDs and email them to anyone you wish.
Sky Force Reloaded (Android)

RATING:
4 out of 5

PRICE:
$2.99

TASTY:
Dodge and roll your plane across colorful battlefields in this addictive vertical shooter.

BUMMER:
Forces you to replay levels if you don’t cause enough carnage. What is this, an exam?

COOL:
Auto-firing your weapons means you’ll be able to concentrate on dodging your baddies and their fire.

REVIEW:
Since the early days of Galaga in the local arcade we’ve been blasting away at never-ending streams of plane, tanks, helicopters, and other enemies who vertically scroll our way down the screen. Sky Force Reloaded ($2.99) brings this familiar dodge, roll, and shoot-fest to the DROID, and not a moment too soon.

You’ll auto-fire your way through each level, keeping a close eye on the percentage meter. Didn’t take down enough baddies? Too bad, start over kid. And don’t get cocky, because this app gets crazy-hard on, well, Hard mode.

You may find that your fingers get cramped after a few minutes of play, but it’s all in good fun. Drag your fighter over the battlefield to collect power ups and shield boosts, all while taking in the scenery.
Vertical shooter fans will find lots to love in this title, including its soundtrack.

So if you’re itching to take on an entire army all by yourself, give Sky Force Reloaded an install. You’ll be glad you did.
Insanity Insane Abs | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Quick routine to crush the lower abs, mid-section, and upper-legs. Yeouch.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


P90X Shoulders & Arms | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Felt the urge to lift some weights today -- rocked my Wednesday. How about you?



Why watching a specific 'News' channel funds terrorism, according to Fox > http://bit.ly/czV83L

Tuesday, August 24, 2010









Insanity Cardio & Resistance | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

In honor of the final three glorious months of my 30's it's time to rock a full 90 days of Shaun T and Beachbody's crazy-sweaty-goodness that is the Insanity workouts. This is for those who have crushed Power 90, tromped P90X, and are ready for something even more crazy. Wish me luck!

Had a wonderful few days away with the whole McLain clan up in Williamsport, camped in our grandmom's backyard -- love you Neeny! -- and enjoyed Knoeble's Grove with our many-kids. Excellent!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Top iPad Games of the Week

Apps Discussed

Conquist: It’s Risk for your iPad. ‘nuff said. Get it.

The Incident: “Dodge falling objects or die” in his 8-bit throwback.

Mooncake HD: Slide matching cake slices onto the Moon Rabbit and Lion’s plates to rack up the carbs. I mean points.

Spirit HD: Will have you sucking stunningly-rendered neon enemies into another dimension for days. Fluid and crisp!

Reviews

Whether you an 8-bit arcade fan from back in the day, or looking for a new game for your kids, recent games making their way into the App Store will fit your bill this week.

Conquist ($.99 limited time)
If you’ve played Risk, you’ve played Conquist (.99), an addictive iPad-only game that will keep you riveted for weeks to come. The newest update brings three new maps -- USA, Europe, and Atholon (?) – and offers a compelling six-player mode that turns your iPad into a fixed game board. No need to pass it around, just play and conquer the world. A turbo mode can be enabled to speed things up, the game rules can be tweaked prior to each round, and the lush graphics are a treat.

The Incident ($1.99)
Super-cool 8-bit pixel art combine with a retro soundtrack and unique “dodge falling objects or die” to bring you a one of a kind gaming experience for your iPad. The Incident ($1.99) will challenge you to explore seven awesome levels, tilting your pad left and right while jumping to avoid falling items, grab power ups (and downs!) It’s great when you have a minute or an hour to play, and the attention to detail is evident in every aspect of the title.

Mooncake HD (.99)
Do your kids like cake? Of course they do. Mooncake HD (.99) is a sweet little gem of a game will challenge them to slide quarter-slices of Moon Cake onto the plates of the Moon Rabbit or Lion. The rabbit only enjoys matching slices of cake, while the Lion, well, he’ll devour anything. Your kids will love the soundtrack of the game, while concentrating on getting similar slices of cake on the right plates.

Spirit HD ($2.99)
Here’s a new iPad-enhanced title that combines intense game play with fantastic visual effects, topped off with controls anyone can learn but will stuggle to master. In Spirit HD ($2.99) you take control of a small neon ghost who’s on a mission to encircle, trap, and transport wave after wave of baddies into another dimension. As you progress, concentrate on trapping multiple enemies simultaneously to build up your chain score. Those who enjoyed Geometry Wars will love this kid-friendly title, which takes full advantage of your iPad’s insanely great graphical bones.

Friday, August 20, 2010

doubleTwist Player (Android)

RATING:
1 out of 5

PRICE:
Free

TASTY:
Acts as an iTunes video and music player for your DROID.

BUMMER:
Mac/Windows client only; not usable under Linux. Tough to make playlists, freezes when dragging more than four files at a time, drops meta data when converting from M4A (native iTunes) to MP3.

COOL:
Contains a built-in link to the Amazon MP3 store. Can set music tracks to be your ringtone.

REVIEW:
After months of waiting, we finally have an alternative to Apple’s iTunes experience for the DROID. Snag the DoubleTwist Desktop media sync program before installing the free Android player application.

Then, buyer beware, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Once the desktop client is up and running, the program will scan your drive(s) for media files – both music and video. Creating playlists involves dragging and dropping files; grab more than four at a time and you’ll be giving your machine the three-fingered salute to start over again. When you have your playlists created, sync with your phone. Syncing a second time results in some files and playlists being copied twice?

Converting native iTunes albums into MP3 format seemed to work just fine, until I discovered that the meta data (song title, album, etc.) didn’t come along for the ride. Ouch. Deleting files was problematic (didn’t work) plus you’ll need to download your video podcasts to your desktop client and then sync them to your phone. There’s no functionality for grabbing your ‘casts directly to your phone using the Player.

You can set specific tracks to be your ringtone, and the app does directly link to the Amazon MP3 store to let you purchase and play back purchases.

Still, the final straw for me occurred when the app seemed to randomly play music even when my phone was locked. Odd, to say the least.

Until the developer works out the kinks, stay far away from the doubleTwist player. Trust me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

eBuddy Messenger (Android)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
Free

TASTY:
Streamlines access to all major instant messaging networks in a single application. Login to every network with a single click.

BUMMER:
Doesn’t reply to my IMs for me!

COOL:
Gives you the ability to set up one single buddy list with all of your contacts across all major IM networks.

REVIEW:
eBuddy Messenger is a free app that will take the turmoil out of keeping connected with your friends, family, and co-workers via all of the most popular instant messaging networks: MSN, Yahoo!, AIM, GTalk, MySpace, ICQ, Hyves, and Facebook.

Set up couldn’t be easier. Just create a new, unique My Buddy account name and login, then enter each of your logins to your other current IM sites. Set them all to auto-login, and you’re all set.

New IM status messages will pop up in your status bar (or set it to vibrate or play a sound), and you can even stay online when you get a phone call.

Switching between chats is painless, and should you wander away from your wifi hotspot or 3G coverage, the app will auto re-connect you. Painless, and easy? It’s possible!

After a few days of use, you’ll quickly find eBuddy Messenger to be one of your most often-used apps. Easily takes the place of four or five additional applications, while offering a suite of features that can’t be beat.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Everlands Lite

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
Free

TASTY:
An animal-themed puzzle and strategy game that will keep you on your toes and searching for assistance to understand the complexities of the title.

BUMMER:
Fairly steep learning curve. Short demo leads all too quickly to a “buy the full game” message. (Which you’ll want to do!)

COOL:
One part cuddly and two parts complex, Everlands will win you over with its visuals and musical score, while challenging the most cerebral of gamers with the sheer number of unique tiles, attacks, and game boards.

REVIEW:
Forget the cute, colorful animal images brimming with cuteness in Everlands Lite (Free). This is a serious game for brainy players who enjoy puzzle games on one hand, and strategy titles on the other. The music is amazing, the visuals are amazing, but most people who pick up this app will quickly discover a depth of play they may have never encountered in a DROID game to date.

Here’s the basics. You’re given a set of hexagonal animal tiles to place on the game board. (Placement is critical to winning.) You’ll see arrows around the edges of the tiles, showing where it can attack.

Some can attack on only one or two sides, while others can attack on five or all six.

Be sure place some animals on the borders of your board to protect the weak sides of your tiles; set down tiles next to weaker breeds and attack their weak sides to avoid getting attacked in return. Each tiles has a unique health and attack score. If you overwhelm an opponent, the animal will switch to your side. Likewise, if you let one of your tiles get overrun, it’ll turncoat on you in a heartbeat.

Place your tiles well and manage your attacks and you’ll quickly overcome your foes to win the day.

Given the sheer number of unique tiles and their attack/defense profiles, you’ll find the game to be a real challenge nearly from game number one.

Keep at it and you’ll find yourself thinking through even the toughest situations. Worth a download of the trial for sure; a purchase will likely be your next step once this game has charmed you!
Gilt for Android

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
Free

TASTY:
Shopping for the hottest clothes and home foods from your favorite designers has never been more fun. Gilt is your stairway to shopping heaven on your blinged-out DROID!

BUMMER:
Despite the “70% off retail” slogan, Gilt items are still priced well above similar, non-luxury brand merchandise.

COOL:
Gilt offers multiple, high-quality photos of each item for sale, making shopping via your phone every bit as enjoyable as browsing your local brick and mortar store. Plus, putting a sale widget on your home screens means you’ll never miss a sale.

REVIEW:
Fashionistas, rejoice! Gilt is your direct link to fashion heaven, giving you open access to dozens of exclusive luxury-brand sales available exclusively to users of this slick application. At 70% off retail prices, this is one free app every serious shopper must have on their phone!

Whether you’re looking for top-quality merchandise for men, women, children, or home, Gilt has the hottest, most trendy items available for the fashion-conscious consumer. Click into each category to begin, select any item to browse, then pinch-zoom on photos to get a closer look from every angle.

Open the app daily to see exclusive offerings, see current sales, and catch a glimpse of upcoming offerings well in advance. Sale dates and availability are clearly displayed, and the images (once zoomed) get as close as you can to seeing the real item in the real world.

For a limited time, all new Android shoppers can install the app and freely browse to their heart’s content, free of charge.

Once installed, new sales will be advertised via your DROID status bar, and adding specific sales to your phone’s calendar is a snap. Plus, use the app’s built-in QR (quick response) code to make it easy for your friends to instantly install the app on their phone.

Finally, you can add a Gilt sale clock widget to your phone’s home screen. You’ll never miss an upcoming sale, even if you don’t directly open the application.

Husbands, don’t blame me when next month’s credit card statement shows up. Gilt makes luxury shopping a joy, anywhere, any time.
Will: 80's Break Dancer



Love that he's 100% uninhibited. (Video here.) Fresh dance moves, my son!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Top iPad Games of the Week

Apps Discussed

Chopper 2: Side scrolling helicopter mayhem is great all on its own, and downright amazing when paired with your iPhone.

Zombie Wonderland: Defend Niceville from the zombie apocalypse. Will you crack under the pressure?

Nano Tank: Old school vector tank shooter. Children of the 80’s, rejoice and relive the glory days. (Can you say Vectrex?)

100 Rogues: You’ll swear you’re back in an 80’s arcade crawling dungeons for loot, weapons, and all the rest.

Reviews

BRAINS! This week’s collection of recent entries into the iPad’s growing collection of game titles will have you spreading death from above in a chopper and tank, sprinting from window to window to fend off hungry zombies looking to crack open your skull like a fresh coconut, and crawling through familiar dungeons sporting throw-back 2D pixel art. Save a magic missile for me!

Chopper 2 ($2.99)
As a game, Chopper 2 ($2.99 for a limited time) is one of the best side scrolling flight titles I’ve played on any platform. Boasting 36 unique missions set in 12 stunning environments, along with easy to learn (but hard to master) controls, you’ll spend hours decimating your foes with a little laser sight-assisted death from above. Using the accelerometer and gyroscope where available for increased sensitivity, you’ll swear your little chopper is really hovering in space. The 3D engine is flawless, HD visuals are intense, and the original soundtrack is the crowning touch.

As a showcase for what’s possible with Apple hardware, Chopper 2 stands alone. First, attach your iPad to your TV using an available adapter (component or VGA), then fire up the Bluetooth on your iPhone to remotely control your iPad. Take a seat on your couch and enjoy a truly unique gaming experience as you blast away at ground forces and more.

Zombie Wonderland (.99)
BRAINS! Take the familiar cry of yet another zombie horde, add plenty of frantic 3D shooter action, along with a single minded focus on keeping your home sparkling clean, and you’ve got Zombie Wonderland (.99). You play the role of Chuck, a guy just trying to get through the day and keep his home and town clean, when the zombies appear at every window.

You’ll dash from pane to pane, firing away to keep the hordes from getting close or (gasp!) into the house. Fend them off – cleanly, of course, no messes please – through four different levels until the zombie rooster crows at exactly 6 a.m. With story and survival modes at the ready, you’ll have to think quickly, keep your mop and broom close at hand, and upgrade your weaponry at every opportunity. (Spoiler alert: The window-mounted machine gun is insanely great.)

Nano Tank (.99)
Retro gamers and vector graphic lovers with an iPad or iPhone will find lots to love about Nano Tank (.99 for a limited time.) As you’d expect, the game play is textbook overhead tank shooter – drive your heavy through a maze, avoid the enemy, and take out the bases, which are ringed with several layers of protection.

Each shot takes out a small part of its shields; keep firing until you can take out the core. It’s a cheap thrill that took me back to the heyday of vector gaming (1982/Vectrex? I was there. Honest Abe.)

100 Rogues ($4.99)
If you’re like me, you’ve been swinging swords, throwing fireballs, and directing magic missiles to take out baddies in virtual dungeons for as long as you can remember. 100 Rogues ($4.99) is a universal app that taps into a familiar genre (2D pixel art dungeon crawler) and will have you praying for critical hits, useful chest loot, and the location of the next EXIT as you explore randomly generated dungeons for as long as you can stay alive.

The game is less about beating every level as it is surviving, upgrading the unique abilities of your Rogue, equipping better armor and weapons, fleshing out your skill tree, and unlocking new skills to take on progressively tougher enemies. A satisfying throw-back to a simpler time in the gaming universe.


P90X Chest, Shoulders, Triceps + Bike | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

20 mile ride over lunch? Check. P90X in the early, a.m.? Check. Nuclear blasts are... awesome?



Check.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Heavy Gunner 3D (Android)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
4.99

TASTY:
Addictive 3D shooter with top-quality graphics. A must-download for all serious DROID gamers with a few minutes or hours to kill. Literally.

BUMMER:
Controls take a while to master, you’ll spend quality time in Settings tweaking things. Requires a rock-solid wifi connection to offset laggy game play at times, plus 25MB of SD card storage for graphics files.

COOL:
Shoot your way through the best looking game on the Android platform to date. No hyperbole there, folks.

REVIEW:
Heavy Gunner 3D ($4.99) offers the most polished gaming experience on the DROID to date. Combining addictive, challenging game play with top-quality graphics and a rock-solid integration of vibration, sound, display, and accelerometer controls, you’ll be instantly welded into a one-of-a-kind gaming experience you can’t find anywhere else.

(Tip: After installing the app and downloading the 25MB of additional data to your SD card, open Settings and reverse the Y-Axis and increase the sensitivity to maximum. You’ll be glad you did.)

As the game opens, hold the phone in landscape position, with your fingers on both sides of the screen to independently control a pair of cannons. Tilt your phone in any direction to move the camera, keeping a sharp eye on the radar as baddies appear behind or below your field of view. You’ve got a truly 360 degree battlefield to contend with, so be alert!

Blast away at the alien enemy before they reach you to inflict damage on your shield, which recharges slowly over time. Take out a set number to clear each level, then spend points on much-needed upgrades as you progress.

You can bring two weapons with you into each level and easily switch between the pair. Avoid overheating by keeping tabs on the heat sensor, and keep a sharp eye on your ordinance counters as they count down to the next reload cycle.

Once you calibrate your accelerometer, match the Y-Axis to which orientation you prefer, and find the perfect balance of screen sensitivity, Heavy Gunner 3D will be your go-to app for a few minutes or hours of fun anywhere you and your DROID may go.
Scene It? Comedy Movies HD (iPad)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$4.99

TASTY:
Test your trivia knowledge from dozens of Hollywood’s most popular comedies using a trio of game modes.

BUMMER:
Many questions and video clips are from many current comedies. If you haven’t been to a movie theater in a while, you’ll need to head out to a nearby redbox or stack your Netflix que before playing this app.

COOL:
Finally, the full Scene It? trivia game experience in HD goodness on the iPad.

REVIEW:
Grab some popcorn and prepare to laugh out loud! Scene It? Comedy Movies HD ($4.99) is chock full of more than 100 video clips and hundreds of trivia questions wrapped up in 16 unique puzzle types, containing licensed images, audio clips, and more.

Put simply, if you like comedy movies and want to show off your uber trivia knowledge, you’ve found your dream app!

Taking full advantage of the iPad’s brilliant screen, HD video clips from many of the latest comedy flicks are perfectly rendered for viewing on the device.

Plus, a trio of game modes – single, multiplayer, and ‘Party Pad’ – makes it easy to get your game on alone or with friends and family. Multiplayer allows for head-to-head local challenges via Bluetooth or wifi, while Party Pad kicks things up a notch with in-room group play using a single iDevice.

I went into my first few games thinking I’d clean up; sadly, the game quickly let me know that my trivia chops were in need of some updating. I came across a fair amount of clips I couldn’t identify, only to discover that they were taken from movies released within the past year or so.

This is a blessing and a curse; if you’re up to date with your comedy movies, you’ll have a blast! If you’re a little rusty, some homework might be necessary to excel. Netflix, here I come.
Knot Guide (Android)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$1.99

TASTY:
Learn the ropes for tieing more than 80 knots in 14 categories.

BUMMER:
Must have a data connection to view instructions for multiple knots. Workaround for a single entry: Open a knot before heading outdoors to cache it in your phone’s memory.

COOL:
Whether you’re an avid boater, camper, fisher, climber, sailor, or Scout (Boy or Cub), Knot Guide patiently walks you through step-by-step instructions to tie all common knots, and then some.

REVIEW:
Knot Guide ($1.99) is one of the most useful apps on my DROID. Tieing knots has long been one of my weakest skills; ask my father as he did his best to help me at Scout camp back in the day. That was one merit badge that brought me to tears. Literally!

Thankfully, today we have a Knot Guide app. Colorful images and step-by-step instructions gently guide you through the entire process of successfully tieing more than 80 knots. With full-color images, complete with a red and blue stripes rope and notations, you’ll be making solid Zeppelin Bends and, well, perfect Perfection Loops in no time.

Forget those old black and white images and ditch the dog-eared books; your DROID does a superlative job of explaining the uses for each knot, then offers a set of simple images to step through each knot to get the job done.

One minor flaw: You must have a data connection to download each series of photos as you switch between knots. If you have a single, specific knot you’ll need help tieing in the great outdoors, open it and step through the images before heading out. The knot sequence will be saved in memory (cached) and available until you try to switch to another.

With new knots added often, here’s the latest listing of knot categories and the number of unique entries in each (as of August 2010):

Bends (16)
Binding Knots (2)
Climbing Knots (26)
Decorative Knots (5)
Fishing Knots (18)
Hitches (End) (21)
Hitches (Middle) (10)
Lashings (4)
Loops (Fixed) (10)
Loops (Slip) 7
Rope Care (2)
Sailing Knots (26)
Scout Knots (10)
Shortenings (1)
Stopper Knots (6)
iBird Yard Plus (Android)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
9.99

TASTY:
A casual or professional birders’ interactive field guide that goes where you go. App price includes lifetime updates for new species, data, and features.

BUMMER:
Download of initial data file (15-30 minutes via wifi) can be problematic. Follow the on-screen instructions to the letter to ensure smooth setup.

COOL:
Leave your well-worn bird books at home; iBird Yard Plus is the first must-have bird watching app for nature-loving DROID owners everywhere.

REVIEW:
iBird Yard Plus ($9.99) is a bird watchers best friend. Your next nature hike or research outing will be greatly enhanced by this full-interactive digital guide to the birds you see and hear along the way, all for less money than a single full-color birding book.

Easily search this massive collection of 234 common species by habitat, shape, color, and more. Click a button to hear bird songs and sounds, then as a bird comes into view, utilize the extensive collection of photos and drawings to verify identification.

Earlier versions of iBird were a little light on the listings. The current Plus version finally matches its popular iPhone cousin in both listings and data. That said, there’s room for improvement. Not all birds you hear or see in the real world are in the app. Yet.

As a casual birder (to say the least!) I found the interface to be spot-on. A small picture of each species is listed next to its common and Latin name. Changing the sort order to first name, last name, or family name is a breeze.

Clicking on a bird opens a data card of sorts, starting with a large, full-color drawing, along with a side-scrolling list of other information at the bottom. Selecting the small speaker icon plays one or more species sounds, and information about range, identification tips, facts, ecology, similar birds, cross-links to the Birdpedia, Flickr images, and family data is available.

Professionals will love the ability to “favorite” any species of interest or study for quick access. Plus, the built-in note taking pane can auto-insert date and time stamps, along with any information you care to enter via keyboard. Open the Settings menu to back up and restore favorites and notes data, and even set the app to remember your location as you journey through the field.

It’s been a bit of a rough few months for this app, but in its current form the features and data available to DROID owners is well worth the $10 price tag. And with a lifetime of free updates thrown into the mix, the time to start birding, taking notes, and tracking sighting locations with your smartphone is now.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Apex NC Youth Soccer
Fyers win, 1-0, Will's assist seals victory!



Friday, August 13, 2010


P90X Legs and Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Rocked this so hard, had to sit down at one point as my vision got tunnel-like. No pain, no gain. P90X rocks, esp. on Friday's. Yummy wall-squats and pull-ups for the win. Did I mention you get to walk like Charlie Chaplin near the end?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Lando: Gets his own Star Wars Feature
Not a second too soon if you ask me...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010



P90X Back and Biceps | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

AirWX Aviation Weather

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$6.99

TASTY:
Brings real-time information and reference data vital to safe small airplane flight operations to your mobile device. Stores your favorite airports on the main screen for instant access.

BUMMER:
Lacks winds aloft data and point-to-point distance calculator.

COOL:
Puts the latest weather and critical airport approach information right on your phone.

REVIEW:
This app for small aircraft pilots speeds preliminary flight planning by providing instant access to the latest weather data along with powerful flight calculation tools, all via your mobile device.

While the FAA requires specific printed documentation to be present in the cockpit, this handy app puts VFR, IFR, and approach FLIP charts in the palm of your hand. Search by city, state, or airport identifier, and off you go.

Access to real-time METAR, TAF, PIREP, AcChart, and NOTAM alerts, along with weather charts for airports within the contiguous United States, are just a click away. The app also includes access to sectional charts, and displays a list of nearest airports to your present location.

A 5-function E6B calculator (with weight and balance) is also included, providing density altitude, true airspeed (TAS), and ETA.

While much of the information accessible via the app is available online in other locations, no doubt pilots of all stripes and expertise will appreciate having this inexpensive app on their DROID to save them time.
Bloomberg Reader

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$.99

TASTY:
User-friendly Android interface to the popular Bloomberg business information website. Layout and design makes for easy reading in all settings.

BUMMER:
Doesn’t stream Bloomberg radio or TV to your phone.

COOL:
Provides simple, direct access to the latest business news, market snapshots, world indexes, stock quotes, and your Bloomberg.com Portfolio Tracker.

REVIEW:
If your stock and trade is, well, stock and trade, Bloomberg has long been a critical resource for the latest business intelligence. Up to the minute business headlines, U.S. and global market data, profiles of movers and shakers who are leading market trends, political insights, and more are available from the Bloomberg family of media outlets – TV, radio, and online.

The Bloomberg Reader (.99) costs less than a cup of joe and packs a caffeinated punch of features into a straightforward app. It elevates the basic interface available at mobile.bloomberg.com, formatting relevant graphics, data, and content for easy viewing on your handset.

My first take on the mid-1990’s graphic design – black background with white and yellow text – was less than favorable. But the more I worked with the app in my office and out on the road, I came to appreciate how easy everything is on the eye. It’s the first content-rich app I’m able to browse without feeling the urge to pinch-zoom my screen to get closer to the text or graphics.

The major content offerings – News, News by Region, Market Snapshot, World Indexes, Quote, and Portfolio – are opened by pressing on each category. The category names could be a bit larger, as I occasionally press the wrong item with my fat fingertips.

Getting around is a breeze, though the responsiveness of the interface was a bit lacking. Even with 4 bars or at home on my super-fast wifi network, pulling up stories and quotes takes about twice as long as it should.

That said, for .99 this is a must-have app for businesspeople who rely on daily Bloomberg data as one critical source of business intelligence to keep them on top of their game.

Making a Film With Your iPad
Teleprompter might be good for my podcasting as well... Nice.

HomeSpeaker (Android Review)

RATING:
2 out of 5

PRICE:
$6.99 (free trial version available)

TASTY:
Turns your DROID into a chatty, mobile realtor, using GPS and auto-fetched home data from Zillow.com to narrate home buying excursions.

BUMMER:
Doesn’t know when to quit; must reboot phone to clear from memory and stop from draining battery using power-thirsty GPS. Tends to read numbers in a slightly annoying manner – 08/10/10 is read out loud as “zero eight, one zero, one zero.”

COOL:
Mines real estate listing data as you drive, speaking out each home’s details. Also offers an overhead (satellite image or Google Maps) walking map, and loads multiple GPS locations as you skip from neighborhood to neighborhood.

REVIEW:
My wife loves to home browse. Even though she’s happy with our current domicile (I think?), she’ll eagerly mine the Sunday real estate listings to see what’s new on the Raleigh, NC market. And every few weeks, she’ll crash an open house to take a look around.

It’s a hobby.

Imagine the smile on her face when we set out one weekend afternoon to give HomeSpeaker ($6.99) a try. As you travel around, this no-frills app keeps track of your location with your phone’s GPS receiver, and will read the details of each home to you, pulled from Zillow.com.

Details like each home’s address, the year it was constructed, its current value, and its recent sales history. As we drove around nearby homes, we were surprised by some of the highs and lows of each sale, and a pair of recently foreclosed homes gave some interesting data to be sure. After an hour, we were ready to quit the app and take a break from her incessant chatter.

The app isn’t perfect. It’s hard to make “her” stop talking, and once launched, I was unable to clear an annoying gray bar telling me my current location and GPS coordinates, both in and out of the app. Using Advanced Task Killer (free) did nothing to stop the app from running.

So for now, rebooting your phone after your afternoon of browsing is the best way to go. (That and to keep your finger on the volume rocker.)

All of that said, the app will save you time ahead of any home shopping trip. That is, there’s no need to mine Zillow.com (or ask your Realtor) for basic data about the home’s your interested in. Drop into a new city, fire up HomeSpeaker as you drop in on each home, and get the latest data.

If you’re a tech-savvy homebuyer dreading the real estate shopping experience, pick up this app. It’ll help much more than it’ll hurt. And who doesn’t like to have important home information fetched and read out loud while we drive?

The app is less than a month old as of this writing. Here’s hoping a set of updates comes very soon to clean things up to make it possible to add a few more stars to this review.

Think technology will solve all of our education woes? Think again...

Back to school: Do kids learn as well on iPads, e-books?

USA Today < Read full article in context...

Oklahoma State University professor Bill Handy has big plans for the Apple iPad this fall. If the text messages he has received since the school announced he would test the tablet-style e-reader in some courses are any indication, students are eager to get their hands on the devices, too.

Handy, who teaches in the School of Media and Strategic Communications, is quick to stress that his intent is not to celebrate the new technology so much as to evaluate its effectiveness in the classroom.

"This is not research to prove that the iPad is great," he says. "There's a lot riding on what direction the university might take. If it's not beneficial, (I'll be) glad we figured that out early in the game."

Compared with traditional textbooks, the iPad and other devices for reading digital bookshave the potential to save on textbook costs in the long term, to provide students with more and better information faster, and — no small matter — to lighten the typical college student's backpack.

Yet the track record on campus so far for e-readers has been bumpy. Early trials of the Kindle DX, for example, drewcomplaints from students about clunky highlighting of text and slow refresh rates. Princeton and George Washington universities this spring found the iPad caused network problems. Federal officials in June cautioned colleges to hold off on using e-readers in the classroom unless the technology can accommodate disabled students.

Though many of those problems are being or have been addressed, some of the most tech-savvy students aren't quite ready to endorse the devices for academic use. And some educational psychologists suggest the dizzying array of options and choices offered by the ever-evolving technology may be making it harder to learn rather than easier.

"The challenge for working in the electronic age is that we have so much access to information but we still have the same brain we always had," says Richard Mayer, psychology professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara. He focuses on how multimedia can enhance learning. "The problem is not access to information. It is integrating that information and making sense out of it."

A matter of distraction

There's a lot to like about digital learning. Santa Clara University student Christopher Paschal, 19, for example, appreciated the search function in his economics e-textbook, and said the included video clips offered "an alternative method of learning," and eliminated "the monotony of endless pages of reading."

But ultimately, "I feel that I comprehend material better in regular textbooks," Paschal says. Why? For starters, it's more difficult to look at a computer screen when you're tired, he says, and harder to concentrate when Facebook, YouTube and e-mail are just a click away.

Also, he and others say, it may simply be that the technology is still unfamiliar. Whereas e-readers have taken off in the leisure-reading market, publishers have been slower to jump into the education market. Reasons vary, but one challenge for publishers is that reading for the purpose of gaining knowledge is a more complex process than reading for pleasure.

"Usually in a novel you're going through it from start to finish. In a textbook you're constantly flipping back and forth. You're all over the book a lot more often," says Matt Lilek, 22, a part-time computer science major at Joliet Junior College in Illinois. "Textbook publishers haven't had a chance to tailor things for the iPad. If publishers really get behind the iPad, I can see a day where it's the only thing I would bring to school."

Even then, some evidence suggests students see a downside to 24/7 interactivity when it comes to preparing for exams or doing homework. During visits last fall to libraries, coffee shops and other campus hangouts to analyze how students study, a test-prep company noted that, when it was time to study, cellphones, laptops and Kindles were put away.

"In today's ADD society, textbooks are pleasantly single-dimensional and finite," says Jeff Olson, vice president of research for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, whose team conducted observational studies. "When I asked study participants why they didn't use their laptops to look something up, I heard some version of 'because that's my distraction.' "

More may not be better

A host of research over the past decade has shown that even the option to click hyperlinks to related material can create confusion and weaken understanding. One study found reading comprehension declined as the number of clickable links increased. A 2005 review by researchers at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, of 38 studies found "very little support" for the idea that all those links to additional information enrich the reader's experience. A 2007 study published in Media Psychology raised similar concerns about add-ons such as sound and animation.

The online environment "promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning," argues Nicholas Carr, who raises concerns about the long-term implications in The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brain, which was published in June. "The danger is you don't encourage people to think critically and, ultimately, you don't encourage them to think creatively."

Some of the newer devices try to mimic traditional study behavior with features such as the ability to highlight text and take notes in the margins. Still, the gee-whiz technology doesn't necessarily help students study better, suggests a study published this month in Journal of Educational Psychology. Students often highlight too much material, so building a highlighting function into the technology may simply enable students to continue an ineffective habit, the study found. "Worse, they may not even process or understand what they select," says study author Ken Kiewra, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Despite reservations, expectations remain high for e-reader technology on campuses. Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania and George Fox University in Oregon plan to give or phase in iPads for most students starting this fall. At a ceremony Friday, each member of the UC Irvine School of Medicine's incoming class of 2014 received not only the traditional white coat, but also a shiny new iPad, pre-loaded with everything necessary for the first year of course work.

Scores of others, including Reed College and North Carolina State University, plan to offer opportunities for students to test-drive iPads. And two-thirds of campus technology chiefs predicted last fall that e-books will become an "important platform for instructional resources" within five years, according to the Campus Computing Project.

Publishers, meanwhile, have big ideas for personalizing student learning. "That's the great promise," says Don Kilburn, president of Pearson Learning Solutions, a publisher of education materials.

More glitches are perhaps inevitable. But the technological advances "represent very real potential to remake education for the better," says Kaplan's Olson. "The potential for the textbook to come alive with interactivity ... will make the next several years of e-book innovation fascinating to watch."
P90X Plyometrics | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Super Cardio Tuesday arrives, solid from top to bottom. I love all the jumping moves, and the focus on the calves near the end with Hot Foot. Nice.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Drop and Give me Twenty (DMGT) (Android)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
Push up pros will instantly love this app. Counts your push ups by tapping your nose on your DROID. No more excuses when it comes to depth, people!

BUMMER:
Doesn’t do the push ups for me.

COOL:
A free app that will challenge you over six weeks, varying the difficulty as you go, to keep you on-track with your endurance goals.

REVIEW:
A little over four years ago, I decided to stop spouting excuses about my weight and do something about it.

More than 50 pounds later, I’m proud to say I’ve achieved my goals, am in the best shape of my 39 years, and tracking tools like Drop and Give me Twenty (DMGT) (free) played a big role in turning my original 90 day test into a lifelong, six day a week commitment.

With a DROID at my disposal, I was overjoyed to find this app on a recent Marketplace search. Push ups are just part of my usual routine every other day (along with pull ups and the rest), so adding an auto tracking mechanism to the mix was intriguing.

I’ve been adding 100-120 extra push ups over the course of the day for several months now, enjoying the burn in sets of 20 while video renders on my Mac, big files transfer to and from my company’s servers via VPN, or at night between maps on my favorite first person shooter. (The guys in my squad think I’m nuts, grunting away into my mic. They’re rockin’ spare tires, I’m not. So there.)

After a few days of tracking my progress with this app, I’m seriously hooked. The interface is clear, easy to follow, and tracking my progress on a digital chart is addictive to say the least. I’m adding fresh reps to my routine daily, hitting approx. 120 total, and tracking my time.

Varying the difficulty pushes you to the max, and I love that I have to go all the way to the floor to tap the screen with my nose. Technically, that’s not the ideal form, so try using your chin as you look ahead a bit. Many times I have to pause an extra second to register the touch; all the better to build your endurance.

If you’re looking to take your game to the next level, consider trying P90X, my standard workout routine of choice. (Thanks Tony and Beachbody!)

Now, drop and give me twenty, DROID-style. Go, go, go!


Take This Blog and Shove It!
When utopian ideals crash into human nature--sloth triumphs.

In the history of the web, last spring may figure as a tipping point. That’s when Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”—a site that grew from 100,000 articles in 2003 to more than 15 million today—began to falter as a social movement. Thousands of volunteer editors, the loyal Wikipedians who actually write, fact-check, and update all those articles, logged off—many for good. For the first time, more contributors appeared to be dropping out than joining up. Activity on the site has remained stagnant, according to a spokesperson for the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit behind the site, and it’s become “a really serious issue.” So serious, in fact, that this fall Wikipedia will turn to something it has never needed before: recruiters.

There’s no shortage of theories on why Wikipedia has stalled. One holds that the site is virtually complete. Another suggests that aggressive editors and a tangle of anti-vandalism rules have scared off casual users. But such explanations overlook a far deeper and enduring truth about human nature: most people simply don’t want to work for free. They like the idea of the Web as a place where no one goes unheard and the contributions of millions of amateurs can change the world. But when they come home from a hard day at work and turn on their computer, it turns out many of them would rather watch funny videos of kittens or shop for cheap airfares than contribute to the greater good. Even the Internet is no match for sloth.

Full story at Newsweek...
PRO Zoom Camera 5X (Android Review)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$2.99

TASTY:
Brings a suite of much-needed photo tools to your DROID, including deeper zoom (up to 5X), a set of eight filters, and more. Brings many standard features to the main interface, and makes taking pictures with your camera easier, faster, and more fun.

BUMMER:
Some Hero, Galaxy, and Vibrant users report freezes as of August 2010. (The app’s developer has a good track record releasing regular updates to address issues as phones mature and handsets evolve.)

COOL:
Brings things like flash and exposure controls to the fore, eliminating multiple levels of swipes and screen touches to do the same things using the standard Camera app. Adds a blank canvas feature with basic editing, clip art, and font tools to help you ‘get creative’ on the go.

REVIEW:
Pro Zoom Camera 5X ($2.99) is so good, it should replace every DROID’s standard Camera app. (Review written on DROID A855 running OS 2.1.) When you combine the fresh set of tools the app brings to your phone along with its one-press access to the most-accessed settings, you’ve got yourself a killer app that all DROID owners should own right out of the box.

Since picking up my DROID a few months back, I’ve used it as my primary camera. After all, my phone travels with me everywhere I go, its 5MP sensor is up to snuff quality-wise, and the stock Camera app isn’t all that bad (so long as you have a little patience and a steady hand.)

Except, perhaps, when it comes to quickly tweaking image settings. Switching over to low-light night mode (or any other picture setting beyond the default) involves several swipes and screen touches. The same for turning the flash on and off.

Pro Zoom Camera 5X takes away many of the pains you’ve experienced with the stock Camera. First up, the flash and exposure controls are right there on the side of your digital viewfinder. One click changes your flash setting, opens the exposure settings, and more. Easy.

Plus, as its name implies, you can now get closer to the action with a 5X digital zoom. Experienced photographers, don’t snicker just yet. In my tests, moving the zoom slider from 1X across to 5X does introduce some jaggies on the edges of my subjects, but once I take the picture, the app does a more than decent job of cleaning up the result.

Best of all, you can now delete the images you don’t want to keep as you go along. No more worries about filling up your memory with every single shot!

Plus, once an image has been taken, you can jump right into edit mode. Clicking Pic Wiz forces the app to save the image, then presents you with a colossal list of 23 crazy-cool effects, including Toy Camera, Supercolor 1000 Instant (my favorite), Vintage, Fish Eye, Comic Book, and more.

Remove graininess, color tint, brightness and contrast, and other helpful fixes and tweaks are also a finger press away. Some of the tweaks can take 10-20 seconds to apply. Click the back button to remove the most recent change, or click back twice to return to the main menu, select Use Existing Pic, and edit another image.

A blank canvas feature allows you to choose a color, add one of 50+ clip art elements to a photo, apply edits, add text, and more. Throw in a timer, basic geo tagging features, and the ability to share your creations with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, email, and more, and you’ll be amazed that this useful app costs less than a venti mocha at your favorite coffee shop.

I guarantee that you’ll be using Pro Zoom Camera 5X long after this morning’s caffeine buzz wears off.
TV.com (Android App Review)

RATING:
3 out of 5

PRICE:
FREE

TASTY:
Watch short clips of several popular TV shows from several networks right on your DROID. A small number of full-length shows are also offered, but are sparse.

BUMMER:
Works best over wifi; some videos refuse to stream over 3G. This is no Hulu or Netflix. Most videos run about 1 to 2 minutes each, with small collections of full episodes thrown in as a starting point.

COOL:
This is a clean video app that has tons of potential. The menu system is simple and stylish, cache times are tight via wifi, and as more content makes it way into the app it’ll be a solid 5-star, must-have download.

REVIEW:

TV.com (free) is your gateway to tons of video clips along with a small collection of full TV shows right to your phone. Despite the lack of content, I won’t be deleting this app anytime soon. Amazing days are ahead for this welcome addition to the Android Marketplace!

I’m a huge fan of Netflix, and I’ve come to enjoy Hulu as well. Right on my desktop I have access to tens of thousands of full-length TV shows and movies, making my monthly cable bill an annoyance I live with to get high-speed Internet access.

Ok, that and 3-5 high definition views of several top TV shows.

Which is why when I first read that CBS had launched an Android all to allow for streaming of current and classic TV shows to my handset, I had to check it out. After skipping over short clips of CBS properties like Cold Case, Rules of Engagement, Big Brother, Medium, and some soap operas, I stumbled into some classic gems.

Several full-length episodes of classic Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, MacGuyver, Melrose Place, Perry Mason, and Twin Peaks are just a few click away. Larger stories from 60 Minutes are here, too, and the full Victoria’s Secret 2009 Fashion Show. (Look out, CBS, here comes an avalanche of downloads!)

Scanning across the top of app, click on each content source to access a pull-down menu of all available programs. From left to right, you’ll find shows and clips coming out of CBS, CW, Showtime, CNet, CBS Sports, CBS News, Gamespot, Classic TV, Stupid Videos.com, Movie Trailers, ET, the Insider, Web Shows, and Show.

This may very well be your very first TV-on-a-phone experience, and for free, every DROID owner should take a peek. And come back for more in the weeks and months ahead as this notable little app surely gains more full-length shows.



P90X Chest, Shoulders, Triceps | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Monday... ugh. Windows blue screen of death (BSOD) with nv4_disp error. Graphic card dying??

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Skies of Glory (Android Review)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$4.99

TASTY:
Shoot down friends and family with this cross-platform iPhone and Android gem, featuring live WW II-era dogfighting via local wifi, Bluetooth, or 3G. Includes co-op missions to defend or destroy bases in two theatres of the war.

BUMMER:
Current version requires Android OS 2.0 or newer; won’t run on Eris or Hero handsets.

COOL:
One of the few games (Toon Warz, Armageddon Squardon, Homerun Battle 3D, Raging Thunder 2, etc.) that let DROID and iPhone fanboys and girls take each other out online. Gaming companies, more of these kinds of titles, please! (Mario Kart-style racing, anyone?)

REVIEW:
I’m a sucker for WW II-era dogfighting games, and Skies of Glory ($4.99) is a welcome addition to any amateur flyer’s collection. After doing the tutorial, I felt comfortable enough with the controls to venture online and take the fight to DROID and iPhone users alike.

The graphics are top-quality, the controls are in easily-accessed portions of your screen, and I found the size of my phone’s screen to actually enhance the game play. Using my DROID’s accelerometer, I can easily steer the plane, do barrel rolls, make turns, and all the rest. Increasing and decreasing the speed of my plane, firing rounds, and tracking the position of the enemy is a snap.

With a little practice, and a serious urge to down your friends wielding DROIDs or iPhones, you’ll likely come back to this title again and again. Add terrain models from the European and Pacific theatres, numerous weather conditions, and the ability to team up to take out supply bases and compounds, and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded experience for very little cash.

The sound effects are top-notch, the 8-player combat is silky smooth, setting up local matches is a breeze (again with up to 8 players), and additional planes are available for purchase. Don’t miss the bombing run missions, where you can take off from carriers and land bases to strafe bridges, ships at sea, and ground targets.

The future of cross-platform mobile gaming is here today, and if Skies of Glory is a barometer of things to come, gamers everywhere have many reasons to be excited.

And the next time you’re itching for a fight, look up Tarquin. I’ll be waiting.
Super Tumble (Android Review)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$2.99 (Limited free version available)

TASTY:
A simple physics-oriented game, akin to Jenga. The perfect way to kill time before or during a plane flight, unwind after a rough day at the office, or keep your kids quiet during a long car ride.

BUMMER:
Even with 90 levels (and no ads) the game could stand the addition of more content. (Most players tend to beat all levels in 4-10 uninterrupted hours.)

COOL:
A gold star is perched above a pile of wooden shapes. Remove the shapes one at time to successfully move the star to the platform below. Watch out! One wrong move and you’ll send the star teetering over the edge.

REVIEW:
If you’ve ever played Jenga with friends and family, or tried Boom Blox on the Wii, you’ll feel right at home with Super Tumble ($2.99). The wooden blocks of Jenga are here, albeit in many other shapes and configurations, and the addictive physics of Boom Blox are also in play here, without the ball-shooting aspect.

After a single round, you’ll be hooked. Trust me.

Here’s what you’re up against. A weighted gold star, complete with a rotating gear in its center, is perched atop a stack of wooden shapes. Using your finger, choose a block to remove it. If you choose wisely, the star will fall down a bit, cause other blocks to collapse in an orderly way, with everything still balanced above the platform.

Choose unwisely, and you’ll send the stack of shapes, along with your precious star, cart wheeling over the edge and into oblivion. As the star falls, its rotating center weight will affect how it lands, and if it remains stable and level, you can continue removing other blocks until you successfully get the star to rest on the platform.

Obviously, it’s much easier to understand once you’ve given the first level a try. The first time I installed the app, two hours and many, many levels passed before I put it down. (And being on a deadline, I’ve got to go folks!)

If you’re looking for a well-crafted, good-looking game for your DROID, and you’re a fan of physics puzzle games, Super Tumble will be one of your favorites. All 90 insanely addictive levels of it, with more to come for sure.

Your next plane flight or road trip with the kids will all benefit from access to this gem!
Tower Raiders GOLD (Android App Review)

RATING:
5 out of 5

PRICE:
$4.99 (Limited free version available)

TASTY:
An addictive tower defense game sporting 24 levels (and three bonus maps) that will keep you on your toes and blasting away for many months to come.

BUMMER:
Graphics are run of the mill, adding numerous baddies to your screen can slow things down, and some turret aiming is squirrely at times. DROID Eris and Magic users should snag Tower Raiders BLACK to get in on the action.

COOL:
While there are many tower defense-style games to choose from in the DROID Marketplace, this title rises above the rest, boasting an enormous collection of levels, deviously complex battle fields, and a wide range of towers with numerous upgrades to slay the baddies trying to survive a journey across your map.

REVIEW:
If you’re new to tower defense games, you’re in luck. Tower Raiders GOLD ($4.99) is a well-constructed title that will ease you into the genre, gently leading you from easy levels to more difficult terrain and bad guys over time, and adding just the right number of new turrets to keep things interesting as things progress.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Tower defense games all offer the same basic game play experience. You start with an open battle field, with gray studded spaces to place turrets. A slate gray path is also laid out which enemy units must travel on in order to get to your stored crystals, then back out again.

The aim of the game is to purchase and place turret-style gun emplacements in various locations in order to wipe out the enemy. As the levels progress, you’ll quickly begin to understand which turrets do more damage to various enemy types, and which turrets need to be upgraded in lieu of others over time.

Plus, as things get crazy, you may buy back turrets to reclaim precious funds; the more baddies you kill, the more money you earn.

Game controls are available to speed up or slow down the pace of the action, and zooming and panning is also fairly straight-forward to keep everything in view. Don’t lose track of the enemy as they try to carry off your precious gems!

The graphics are plain vanilla, and things do tend to slow down and stutter on the higher levels as the game pushes your device to keep up. Some turrets also go rouge in terms of targeting at times. Recent updates have cleaned things up nicely, and more are sure to come.

Overall, this is one of the best tower defense games on the DROID Marketplace. With a responsive developer and a growing legion of addicted fans, I see nothing but solid updates, more levels, and expanded features as the months go by. A must-have for all DROID gamers.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Ads for Facebook, Skype, and YouTube from the 1960's
Wait, what?



Friday, August 06, 2010

Tony Horton on Fitness & Health MOTIVATION
Staying fit and healthy day after day, month after month, year after year.



100% my mantra/philosophy in one short video!

P90X Legs & Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | P90X Round 9 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 197 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Final day of the business week, finds me rocking the ol' legs and back with Tony and pals. My favorites -- wall squats. Stand with your back against the wall, your feet together just in front of you. Squat down so your legs make a table, back tight against the wall. Now, hold for 30 seconds. Scootch up a little for 10 seconds, back down for another 30. Do that 4 times.

Later in your workout, assume the position, go down, and... life your left leg straight in front of you, above your right knee. Hold for 15 seconds. Switch. Do 4 reps for each leg.

Seeing muscles in my legs I didn't even knew existed. Add the rest of the moves, and you're set for a semi-sore, great weekend. We burn, as guys, much more calories by working our legs. And this Friday suspects brings that burn. In spades.

Rock on.