Sunday, May 29, 2011

KAMI RETRO HD jumps into our iPad Games of the Week

“Feed me, Seymour!” Fans of 1980’s Broadway musicals (“Little Shop of Horrors, anyone?) and pixelated arcade gaming will fall for KAMI RETRO HD. Hard. Pro tip? Try not to take a tumble in this stunner, positioning fans, springs, and other objects across each level, helping your ever-faithful troops make their way from one end to the other. Along the way, man-eating plants are just waiting for a snack.

Retro gamers looking for a second cheap, happy thrill will line up on the 80’s free-throw line in Free Pixel Ball, while SimplePhysics successfully combines a structure-building app with all the gravity-crushing fun of Angry Birds and Ragdoll Blaster.

Last but not least, Storm in a Teacup (cute, cute, cute!) puts the fun back in gliding artfully across 40 levels in a magic teacup. Make your kids and your iPad happy this week with my iPad games of the week!

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


The iPhone hit now on your iPad. Perfectly marries modern 3D with colorful, retro visuals, challenging all comers to guide troops across 60 stages using fans, springboards, and more, while avoiding a litany of death traps of doom.

Free Pixel Ball (FREE)
Relive the ‘80s glory days of pixelated free throws, tossing unlimited balls and other objects at a virtual hoop. The soundtrack and graphics take you back!

SimplePhysics ($.99)
Build your own structures in this simple editor, then let gravity, a ragdoll, or an explosion poke holes in your design. That’s edutainment!

Storm in a Teacup ($.99)
The cutest platformer you’ll ever play on your tablet. Glide across 40 levels in your magic teacup!



As a triplet, sharing a lone Atari 2600 with my brother and sister was downright challenging. Thankfully, I can revisit the glory days of Atari-inspired, pixelated gaming goodness in KAMI RETRO HD. (And keep it all to myself. Suck it Todd and Kelly!)

This iPad must-have instantly charms its way into your heart with a bouncy, throw-back soundtrack, a hapless band of bearded heros, simple controls, and tons of stars to collect along the way. There’s 60 stages to explore, which rapidly move from training-easy to downright difficult. You’ll need to time your jumps perfectly to score maximum points, while positioning fans, springboards, and more to help your guys avoid a litany of death traps of doom, including “Little Shop of Horrors”-inspired man-eating plants. (“Feed me, Seymour!”)

You’ll want to play close attention during the tutorial, as the basic jumping controls can be a bit challenging to master. I kept swiping in the wrong direction for a left-hand jump. That’s what getting older does to your brain. It all adds up to an original, neon-colored love letter to the 80’s we can all enjoy on our modern Apple devices. Go get it!

Free Pixel Ball (FREE)

Nintendo retro-gaming purists, do I have the app for you. And it’s 100% free. No charge, with easily ignored ads to boot. Free Pixel Ball puts you on a pixelated free-throw line, then encourages you to let loose with multiple basketballs, swiping your finger across your iPad’s generous screen to sink each point. If you have multiple balls in play, they’ll interact in their arcs to the basket, while angel and devil balls, clocks, and other tossable objects add a fun element to the gameplay.

The secret sauce of this must-have game? The music and sound effects. It’s all vintage from stem to stern. Multiple game modes keep the game fresh (and the ads flowing to your brain), including Fight Mode (turn on Bluetooth and challenge nearby opponents), Survival Mode (how long can you last?), Free Throw Mode (timed levels with ever-increasing distractions and interactive ball types), and more. The multiplayer mode alone is worth at least $.99, but the good folks at WedgeKase Games are counting on ad impressions to pay the bills. And that’s good for all of us!

SimplePhysics ($.99)

“Prepare your brain, SimplePhysics is loading!” At first glance, this app looks like more work than play. But once you dive in and start constructing things, the fun side of the app kicks in quick. To start, you’ll make a simple tree house, which has been unceremoniously nailed to a tree in your back yard. A grid of squares represents the construction area, with square anchors bolting the structure to the tree. Tapping on the dots and drawing lines between them adds connective structure to the design. Watch your budget; each additional support costs money!

When you think the structure is solid enough, click the blue icon to put it through a certification test. In the tutorial, heavy boxes stand in for kids. (Phew!) Each box is tossed up into the house, and once all four are in place, there’s a 10-second stress test to see if it holds. (Mine did, thanks!) After an hour of making and testing structures, I was hooked, and so was my 9-year-old. Edutainment at its best, with explosions and rag dolls thrown in to really test your creations (Ragdoll Blaster and Angry Birds, anyone?)

This dollar menu offering is worth every penny, and then some. Suck it, gravity!

Storm in a Teacup ($.99)

Leave it to Chillingo to give us yet another instant iPad classic. This time around, it’s the charm-infused Storm in a Teacup. You’re a speed-loving teacup driver, holding a lightning button to sail ever-higher, and employing a pair of directional arrows to control the direction of travel.

You’ll need to move from platform to platform, collecting sugar (aww, sweet!) and more. The real challenge comes in using your lightning propellant to its best effect. You have a limited supply, but it refills fast. So getting used to boosting a bit, pausing for a second or two, then tapping it again to grab power-ups and other items is key. With Paper Mario-like graphics, sinister dark clouds waiting to rain on your parade, and each level offers fresh obstacles to overcome to collect the most sugar cubes.

At the end of the day, this app’s secret sauce is its “floaty” control scheme, which is executed perfectly using the screen controls. Other iPad developers could learn a lot from this dollar menu gem. A must-download.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Casey's Contraptions are built into our iPad Games of the Week

If Casey was a real boy, he'd likely be an only child, happily spending countless hours in his toy-festooned bedroom dreaming up the elaborate physics puzzles you'll find in his self-titled Casey's Contraptions iPad game. You'll need a sharp eye and lots of imagination to line up bookshelves, soccer balls, boxes, toys, balloons, and other items to get the ball from the start to finish. It's all about trying things out and having fun, which makes it the perfect lead app in this week's list of top games for your Apple tablet.

Draw Jump takes the usual "tilt and bounce your way ever-higher" genre to the next level by adding bouncy, finger-swiping platform building to the mix, while Battle Dots brings a familiar pen and ink game to our mobile devices. Last but not least is iBLOBS, a must-play for fleet-fingered iPadders looking for a quick, free gaming thrill.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


Casey’s Contraptions
You'll need a sharp eye and lots of child-like imagination get the ball from the start to finish in this spot-on physics puzzler.

Draw Jump
Takes the usual "tilt and bounce your way ever-higher" genre to the next level by adding bouncy, finger-swiping platform building to the mix.

Battle Dots Free
This kid-friendly pen and ink game (connect the dots into a box, score) makes its move into the mobile arena.

The blobs are coming! Thankfully, you've got a can of blob whoop... cream. Have at them!


Casey’s Contraptions ($2.99)

The App Store is littered with rushed, mediocre games. Thankfully, Casey's Contraptions reminds us what a professional-grade game title can offer. Namely, rock-solid physics game play that shines like the light in every little boy's eyes as he merrily plays with his toys in his room.

Only in this iPad exclusive, you'll take on the role of only-child Casey, happily spending countless hours in your toy-filled bedroom, lining up bookshelves, soccer balls, boxes, toys, balloons, and other items to get a ball from the start to finish. It's all about trying things out and having fun, while watching gravity and physics have their way with your setups.

With more than 30 toys and other objects to choose from available inside all 72 starter levels, you'll want to move quickly to solve each puzzle and score the maximum amount of points. That's because the built-in score sharing tools will let you post your best solutions to the Game Center cloud, enabling your friends to see your brilliant work. Plus, their successes are visible as well, adding a much-needed "call a friend" tipline for when you get stuck. (And you will, trust me!)

As you unlock new objects and tools to work with, they'll also unlock inside the game's built-in level editor. Soon you'll be creating your own devilishly clever levels and sharing them with the world, all through the child-like fun and wonder of Casey's Contraptions.

Draw Jump HD ($2.99)

I'm pretty sure I've played every "tilt and bounce an avatar ever-higher" app in both the Apple and Android marketplaces. They're fun, sure, but only to a point. Thankfully, Draw Jump HD is here to bring high-quality sound effects, fun graphics, and an entirely new game play mechanic to this saturated genre -- namely, adding bouncy, finger-swiping platform building to the mix.

Here's the basics: Take control of little Cosmo, a little red rocket that only wants to do one thing -- go higher! It's your job to finger-swipe below him, creating springy platforms for him to bounce upon and thrust him upwards. Along the way, there's items to collect, stars to slingshot-around with a satisfying gravity-boosting effect, and his smiles and frowns will quickly tell you how well you're playing the game.

The title's overall Japanimation theme is cute and emotionally over-wrought (read: perfect), with just the right amout of rewards and obstacles along the way to keep you glued to your tablet. You'll need to be thoughtful in your placement of each finger-drawn trampoline to avoid hugging the edges (yes, like I did), but it's all worth it as you soar higher and higher, watching your meter meter (yep) creep ever-higher. Just like little Cosmo. If you or your kids are ready for a break from traditional "jumping" apps, I highly recommend Draw Jump HD. Cosmo's waiting!

Battle Dots Free (FREE)

My family and I are serious road-trippers. Anything less than 8-10 hours in the ol' minivan is too short. That's why an app like Battle Dots is an absolute time-killing app that is now a permanent part of our iPad collection, never to be deleted. Ever.

If you have young kids, you've likely played this game on paper dozens of time already. Just like the real-world version, Battle Dots Free presents a field of dots to view. It's your job to connect any two dots on the game grid, all in an effort to fill a box (or two or three or more) to score points. The most boxes on the grid at the end of each round wins the round, and you'll grab a special trophy with each win.

Don't have a super-cool, iPad-owning friend (or parent) to play with? No bother. Tab the control to turn one of the four player slots into the computer, and have at 'em. If you think you're in for an easy ride, prepare yourself. Even the easy AI does a superb job of grabbing every last box with that final line aching to be finger-stroked. If you're looking for a perfect one-on-one app to play with your kids, you'd be hard pressed to beat Battle Dots Free.

iBLOBS (Free)

Download this free app and prepare to unleash some serious blob repellent on the invading horde of... blobs. Your little house in the middle of the screen is woefully unprotected from the menace of these multi-colored blob boobs.

Tap the screen with your finger to quickly spray sections of the blobs with some repellent. The blob will instantly disappear. And that's all there is to it -- a never-ending cavalcade of invading blobs (some fast, some slow) all of which need to be put down with maximum prejudice by your suspiciously Barbasol-like can of whoop... cream.

It's perfect for a quick finger-smearing session, anytime, anywhere.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The future of the library

Seth Godin, The Unquiet Librarian, Doug Johnson

Readers, first Godin's original blog post, then The Unquiet Librarian's insights. Worth a deep read for anyone with any kind of interest in our libraries.

What is a public library for?

First, how we got here:

Before Gutenberg, a book cost about as much as a small house. As a result, only kings and bishops could afford to own a book of their own.

This naturally led to the creation of shared books, of libraries where scholars (everyone else was too busy not starving) could come to read books that they didn't have to own. The library as warehouse for books worth sharing.

Only after that did we invent the librarian.

The librarian isn't a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.

After Gutenberg, books got a lot cheaper. More individuals built their own collections. At the same time, though, the number of titles exploded, and the demand for libraries did as well. We definitely needed a warehouse to store all this bounty, and more than ever we needed a librarian to help us find what we needed. The library is a house for the librarian.

Industrialists (particularly Andrew Carnegie) funded the modern American library. The idea was that in a pre-electronic media age, the working man needed to be both entertained and slightly educated. Work all day and become a more civilized member of society by reading at night.

And your kids? Your kids need a place with shared encyclopedias and plenty of fun books, hopefully inculcating a lifelong love of reading, because reading makes all of us more thoughtful, better informed and more productive members of a civil society.

Which was all great, until now.

Want to watch a movie? Netflix is a better librarian, with a better library, than any library in the country. The Netflix librarian knows about every movie, knows what you've seen and what you're likely to want to see. If the goal is to connect viewers with movies, Netflix wins.

This goes further than a mere sideline that most librarians resented anyway. Wikipedia and the huge databanks of information have basically eliminated the library as the best resource for anyone doing amateur research (grade school, middle school, even undergrad). Is there any doubt that online resources will get better and cheaper as the years go by? Kids don't shlep to the library to use an out of date encyclopedia to do a report on FDR. You might want them to, but they won't unless coerced.

They need a librarian more than ever (to figure out creative ways to find and use data). They need a library not at all.

When kids go to the mall instead of the library, it's not that the mall won, it's that the library lost.

And then we need to consider the rise of the Kindle. An ebook costs about $1.60 in 1962 dollars. A thousand ebooks can fit on one device, easily. Easy to store, easy to sort, easy to hand to your neighbor. Five years from now, readers will be as expensive as Gillette razors, and ebooks will cost less than the blades.

Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.

Post-Gutenberg, books are finally abundant, hardly scarce, hardly expensive, hardly worth warehousing. Post-Gutenberg, the scarce resource is knowledge and insight, not access to data.

The library is no longer a warehouse for dead books. Just in time for the information economy, the library ought to be the local nerve center for information. (Please don't say I'm anti-book! I think through my actions and career choices, I've demonstrated my pro-book chops. I'm not saying I want paper to go away, I'm merely describing what's inevitably occurring). We all love the vision of the underprivileged kid bootstrapping himself out of poverty with books, but now (most of the time), the insight and leverage is going to come from being fast and smart with online resources, not from hiding in the stacks.

The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who understands the Mesh, a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user serviceable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it's fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

The next library is filled with so many web terminals there's always at least one empty. And the people who run this library don't view the combination of access to data and connections to peers as a sidelight--it's the entire point.

Wouldn't you want to live and work and pay taxes in a town that had a library like that? The vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information? There are one thousand things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.

We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don't need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.

The Unquiet Librarian's response:

Twitter is lit up today with divergent responses to Seth Godin’s post, “The Future of the Public Library.” I think Godin is spot-on with his thoughts and observations, particularly the idea that libraries “…ought to be the local nerve center for information.” Note he doesn’t see information only in BOOKS, but information in multiple spaces or “containers”, period.

Although he isn’t the first to do it, Godin’s call to reconceptualize libraries and his emphasis on the real meaning of “library” as being embedded in the work librarians do is powerful; Godin’s call disrupts the traditional precept of the library as being book-driven. I completely agree and if you read my blog regularly, then you know I feel libraries should be idea and learning-driven—that focus and our rethinking what the spaces of library and where librarians can be embedded in our communities is what can make us more central to the communities we serve and increase participation and equitable access to information in many formats by being willing to think outside the traditional “boundaries”.

Read the rest of her response; the K-12 insight is particularly important as media specialists are being largely marginalized, and their media center collections (electronic databases for one) being sustained for content alone and not the ever-important context of their unique interfaces to that content...

How do I imbue and infuse a bit of “librarian” into the work and learning processes of our teachers and students to scale out the possibilities for “library” and learning?

As I learned from our initial design process experience at our Reimagine [Libraries] Ed meeting in April 2011, it is not always easy to hear the “sacred cows” of our profession challenged by non-librarians, but rather than being defensive, this experience reminded me of Dr. Bob Fecho’s (one of the wisest teachers I had at the University of Georgia) advice to embrace the cognitive chaos and discomfort.

These kinds of experiences help me reflect and consider how to better distribute the “library” by improving our efforts to foster the participatory climate we’ve tried to establish in our library program over the last five years.

And finally, Doug Johnson's response:

"O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us", wrote Robert Burns. These lines run so loudly through my mind whenever I read a post that is absolutely dead-on about libraries, but more often than not, written by a non-librarian. Godin's Future of the Library post, echoing so many of the themes of the ECIS Library conference last week, is such a post. Read it, read it, read it.

While I'm not that concerned about whether librarians take attendance, I certainly am convinced that librarians must own the duties associated with teachers if they want to be regarded (and paid) as such...

Looking for hands-on help for tiring media centers and librarians to teacher's everyday work with our kids? Read ProQuest's own Carl Janetka's take on fostering this collaboration with electronic BookCarts.

It's about more than databases and content, folks. More at

Video: Differentiating Instruction with ProQuest Resources

Monday, May 16, 2011

John Stewart vs. Bill O-Reilly = Booyah...

Closet garbage eaters, this is for you... And me.

Source: P90X's Tony Horton, via Facebook

You know who you are. You've got all the answers and your lousy at taking sound advice because it's easier to be lazy. The tilt-a-whirl of disappointment goes round and round and you pretend everything is okay. You're not fooling anyone and everyone else knows what you're up to. It's easy to lack self discipline because you're not alone. Misery loves company.

I'm sick and tired of hearing why you can't stop eating crap. Stop blaming your thyroid, boyfriend, childhood and ancestry because it's not working. The problem is your inability to face reality. The real issues are your lack of accountability, willpower, determination and the lousy company you keep. It's also your lame plan or lack there of. Your reasons why suck and you don't tell the truth about what you stuff in your face when no one is looking.

Your horrendous eating habits is the American terrorist within. If the level of disease caused by unhealthy choices continues at this alarming rate then we will destroy ourselves without any help from the bad guys. Fad diets, pills and miracle potions used to lose weight never work in the long term and they never will. Dozens of studies show that calorie control diets that still allow you to eat forms of unhealthy food always fail. I've never met anyone who started a "weight lose only" diet and stayed on it. So you lost 50 pounds and kept it off for 5 years. Why did you gain it all back in 6 months during year six? Are you proud of that?

When diet deprivation becomes too much the closet eating begins. Your reasons for falling off the wagon are plenty and you'll defend them till you're blue in the face. Good for you for choosing the option that required you to be lazy again. Choosing gluttony is no way to build your manifesto my friend. What is your reason for being on this earth? Why do you really put that garbage in your mouth? Do you want to know why? Do you want to look at it closely? Do you care enough?

The simple answer is choice. I hope you weren't expecting something more complicated. How do you choose what to be? How will you work to be better than before? Who will you surround yourself with? How long will your better choices last? Will you continue to be the closet garbage eater or will you finally get your act together, stop making it about you all the time and begin to be an example to the people in your life who need your help?

Thanks Tony! Words of wisdom for the week, month, year... lifetime. My workouts this week, below.

Mon. | P90X Chest & Back | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 199 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Starfront Collision does a ‘zergling rush’ into our iPad Games of the Week

Mine resources, build a base, train troops, defend against rushes of baddies, and attack. If the basics of Starfront Collision HD sound familiar, they should. Starcraft fans will feel right at home in this thinly-veiled knock off from GameLoft that may be the very best iPad game to hit the App Store since the iPad’s launch.

This week, grab the fresh Dofus app that grants iPad owners entry into the World of Twelve MMORPG, set your hair on fire in MetalStorm Online, a Top Gun-inspired dog fighting game, and round things out with the App Store’s first-ever interactive cartoon collection with Super Toonies of the Forever. (Your kids will love it!)

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


StarFront: Collision HD
Starcraft fans will feel right at home in this thinly-veiled knock off that may be the best iPad game to date.

Dofus: Battles HD
Enter the World of Twelve and enjoy this bloody (literally) good fusion of MMORPG, strategy, and tower defense game styles.

MetalStorm: Online
Channel your inner Iceman and Maverick to get your Top Guns thrills in this free, quality dog fighting title from Z2Live.

Super Toonies of the Forever
What do you get when you combine kid-friendly interactive cartoons with quality character design and animation? Super Toonies, of course.


StarFront: Collision HD ($6.99)

Only real Starcraft fans have held on to dedicated Windows XP hardware just to play the game. (Yes, count me in that lot.) That said, there hasn’t been a week that’s gone by when I wish I could play this classic RTS on my modern Apple tablet. Terran, Zerg, and Protoss aficionado’s, your wait is over. Gameloft has shamelessly recreated the Starcraft experience in Starfront Collision HD, and it’s worth every penny of the mere $7 price tag.

All the usual controls are here, made even more interactive by replacing your well-worn mouse with simple screen gestures. Use two fingers to draw a box around your troops, set a squad shortcut, then send them off to do battle. Use the mini map to keep tabs on your game, complete objectives, build up your base, and be sure to upgrade your defenses to stay in the game.

Xenodium is the scarce resource at the heart of the game’s conflict-rich storyline, and you’ll employ it to build 8 unique structures and 10 special units per race, which include the Myriad, Wardens, and The Consortium. (You can guess which is Zerg, Protoss, and Terran-like.) Your iPad’s generous screen is perfectly sized for the app, and with full 4-player multiplayer matches available via your home network or GameLoft live, there’s nothing standing in the way of this newcomer taking the top spot as the iPad’s best game released to date. Period.

Dofus: Battles HD ($5.99)

iPad gamers, behold the very first “Science Friction” game you’ve ever played. This French MMORPG-inspired title combines elements of the best strategy games with solid tower defense. You’re presented with a series floating platforms, which contain spaces to place your attacking and defending heros.

In turns that feel more like waves, you’ll need to search out Jeff Stobbs and the demon (Naz T. Peaseawerk, sound it out) who gave him the inspiration to take over the world. Your hero units (both attackers, healers, and defenders) join Animakhal the Dragon in never-ending battles against legions of baddies who will put your gaming chops to the test. Be sure to pick up the fragments that drop from each fallen foe, you’ll need them to bring new units into the fray. The artwork is jaw-dropping, while the sheer uniqueness of the controls and depth of the game will keep you riveted for months to come. It’s important that serious iPad gamers reward game developer innovation that results in a pitch-perfect experience; pick up this newcomer and do your part to support quality apps!

MetalStorm: Online (FREE)

Like the iPad itself, MetalStorm Online gives you everything you want in a Top Gun-inspired game: a never-ending supply of upgradable planes, tech, and weapons, easy tilt controls, and both solo and local and online multiplayer game play. Ignore the ads and pleas to spend cash to rush through the tech/upgrade tree, and focus on the battle-ready graphics, explosions, and easy lock-on missiles.

Maverick and Goose would feel right at home in Z2Live’s world of air combat, and if you stick to the computer AI battles, the stock planes will suffice. Challenge your real world pals to a few skirmishes, and spending anywhere from $1 to $50 for in-game currency to grab better gear will be hard to resist. The secret to life or a Goose-inspired death upon ejection? Swiping your screen to perform barrel rolls and other evasive maneuvers. With just the right amount of scenery depth and graphical detail, super-smooth accelerometer controls, and non-stop fighter jet action, MetalStorm Online is a no-cost, must-download for iPad gamers everywhere.

Super Toonies of the Forever (FREE)

It’s hard to categorize this kid-friendly “game” from Mongadillo Studios. After a solid year of effort, this innovate developer brings this inspired interactive cartoon to Apple’s Store, with lots of room for growth in the future.

Sporting quality character design and animation, the app is more of an interactive canvas for kids to create their own fun than a traditional game title. There’s a raft of animated characters and a starter scene in which to place them. The initial no-cost release gives kids their first Toonie character, along with some crazy squirrels, hoppy bunnies, and a fun-loving Sasquatch. It’s up to you to place everyone in a virtual forest, and watch them interact. Be sure to seek out the secret awards, and read up on each character’s likes, dislikes, and favorite foods. As more scenes and characters arrive in future updates, your youngin’s will be able to mix and match these assets to create truly unique funscapes. Thrown in original musical scores, and there’s truly no end to the creative products your kids can create inside Super Toonies of the Forever. Grab it today!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Stand Up Workstation: Weekend Project Success

The plans (for this standup desk build) from Wes worked perfectly, and with some color help from Will, my "No Excuses, Results, Tim Deb Will"-appointed back panel'd standup work desk is complete.

Plans are above, made this and starting using it in early summer of 2009. Cost about $130 w/paint and those two extra top shelves. Early picture above, still have more to tweak. After two years of use, I have zero leg pain, more energy, and gets me through the afternoon Zzzzz's everyday.

Questions? Comment? Email me at timothymclain at

Also learned that IKEA sells a smaller workstation that it height-adjustable for about the same price. Nice!

Need proof that standing up at a desk like these are worth the cost and adjustment? (Sitting is killing us!) How about cutting your heart attack risk by 40 percent, and more. (Full image below of benefits that's easier to read is here.)

Fitness Blueprint | P90X (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 199 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)
I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element:

It is my personal approach that creates the climate.

It is my daily mood that makes the weather.

I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.

I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.

I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.

In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is excalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized.

If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.

If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832

Friday, May 13, 2011

Relief Central is a boon to relief workers and globe trotters alike

Platform: Android

4 out of 5


Opens up a world of information, useful to both relief/disaster workers (think Haiti and Japan), as well as international travelers.

Requires user registration in order to function. Brimming with information, but lacks a Search function, which severely limits its usefulness.

Useful to travelers and aid workers looking for a handheld-formatted version of the CIA World Factbook alone.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.

It seems as if the world is facing its share of catastrophes and natural disasters these days. Developer Unbound Medicine has risen to the occasion, creating a free Android app that’s brimming with critical information of interest to first responders, relief workers, and anyone headed into a disaster zone.
Honestly, the app is just as useful for international travelers, backpackers, and others on the hunt for a mobile-formatted version of the ever-popular CIA World Factbook. (Anyone looking for more reliable, locally-sourced cultural information, I recommend CultureGrams as a superior source, but I digress.)

The CIA compiles this trove of basic data about dozens of aspects of most countries on the planet, including updated maps, notes about the political climate, general information about all aspects of the economy, and more.

Also included is a Field Operations Guide, which will be familiar to anyone working in the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance or Department of Defense. If you need to interface with personnel from these organizations as an assisting NGO, then Chapter V will give you a quick course on the lingo and acronyms that are thrown about at high speed during these disaster operations.

The Relief News button will lead you to a solid set of RSS feeds, which are constantly updated with fresh information related to topics of interest to disaster operations. Some of the content sources include the Red Cross, United Nations, FMEA, and even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travelers will want to skip right to the travel alerts and warnings.

For in-depth, research-quality sources, you’ll want to tap into the MEDLINE Journals link. Here you’ll find article abstracts and citations sourced from a long list of scholarly publications.

The only thing missing from this info-rich app is a search feature. Without it, you’ll need to rely on a long plane ride or extended periods of down-time in order to find, bookmark, and keep the most critical information at your fingertips either on your international trip or next disaster relief operation.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Mach Defense launches to the top of our iPad Games of the Week

As an old school Mech Assault player (long live XBOX), I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit playing Heavy Mach. 2 HD on my iPad. It’s a top-down mechanic-action RPG, putting you in control of an upgradable mech that you pilot across dozens of playfields to take out the enemy, gather parts, and more.

Recently IndieApps released a followup app: Mach Defense. This newcomer offers the same mech action as its predecessor, with the feel of a base defense game. Grab the best offensive weapons and heat sink you can find, and prepare for action!

Add a combination comic book/casual game to the mix in Imaginary Range HD (from Square Enix, need I say more?), plus a fresh take on solitaire and Frisbee tossing, and you’ve got yourself our must-have iPad games of the week from Appolicious.


Mach Defense
Grab the best armor, offensive weapons, and heat sink you can muster, and prepare for fresh heavy mech action with a decidedly fun tower defense flavor.

Imaginary Range HD
Square Enix’s newest tablet game will fill your next rainy day with a combination comic book and casual game that’s cheap, easy, and wholly original.

Heartwild Solitaire for iPad
An engaging story, rich graphics, calming music, and 80 full levels of classic solitaire with a twist will make any solitaire lovers heart go wild.

Frisbee Forever
Disc golf lovers and casual plastic disc throwers alike will love this electronic version of their favorite leisure time activity.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


Mach Defense ($.99)

Heavy Mach. 2 HD stands atop the heap of dozens of games I’ve played since the iPad’s launch. I’m a big fan of heavy mech titles, blasting away across dozens of playfields to take out enemy mechs, collect parts, upgrade my rigs, and generally cause as much destruction as I can along the way. Now the good folks at IndieGames have retrofitted this must-have game into Mach Defense (newly updated this week), which perfectly marries the run and gun fun of the original app with a pseudo tower defense theme.

In truth, it’s really you on one end of your iPad’s screen upgrading and maintaining your base by adding turrets, etc. while simultaneously rushing with mechs to the other side to take out the enemy base and his tanks. You’ll need to keep your eye on energy cell levels and credit allocation, sinking both into upgrades and new units to stay alive across all 70 crazy levels. Pro tip: As you unlock new mechs along the way, be sure to “uninstall” older units from the right-side menu so the better versions can be locked and loaded. Coming soon: A working formation mode that allows you to stack units and unleash them in groups. Bring it!

Imaginary Range HD (FREE)

Comic books and manga are hot with young iPad gamers these days. Leave it to Square Enix, the genius developers behind the Final Fantasy series, to release an iPad confection that’s one part choose your own adventure game, another manga comics, and another casual game.

You’ll read through pieces of comic back-story, then tackle an easy casual game (steer missles into baddies, anyone?), followed by more manga panels, more casual game breaks, and so on. After a while you’ll be engaged in the story, enjoying the easy game breaks, and working your way to the conslusion of this instantly classic. At the low, low prize of zero sawbucks there’s nothing but upside to this must-install app. Be sure not to miss the collectable items scattered through the comic book art sections, which unlocks more content and additional content. Think of this app more as a high-class manga comic delivered to your tablet with embedded interactive content, and less as a full-on gaming experience, and you’ll enjoy every minute of this disposable application.

Heartwild Solitaire for iPad (FREE)

Offering an engaging story, rich graphics, calming music, and 80 full levels of classic solitaire with a twist, Heartwild Solitatire for iPad will make any solitaire lovers heart go wild. (See what I did there?) The story involves a lonely woman’s journal, which traces her lost love and fresh attraction to a new neighbor. “Anne” loses herself in her solitaire games, where you’ll reflect on her past and help her build up the confidence she needs to find new freedom in the arms of her new love.

The solitaire game itself is easy to play, sports cards that are just the right size for both older and young eyes, along with easy controls to drag and drop cards. There’s 80 levels to explore, bonus hands to unlock, power-ups that can turn the tide at any time, and more. Card game lovers as well as anyone with a serious romance novel addiction will enjoy Heartwild on many levels. Keep in mind that the app is programmed to present special cards at random intervals, ensuring that the app can be played more than once and offering drastically different outcomes along the way.

Frisbee Forever (FREE)

Disc golf lovers and casual plastic disc throwers alike will love this electronic version of their favorite leisure time activity. Of course, there’s nothing like heading out to the local park, perhaps with your favorite dog in tow, to throw toss a disc around. But if you’re stuck inside and looking for a worthy electronic version of this fun pastime that plays perfectly in your tablet, then this free app is a must download.

You’re confronted with various themed levels (think wild west, amusement park, etc.) containing sets of spaces hoops aching to have discs thrown through them in sequence. You can choose to tilt or tap the discs into flight, being careful to collect stars along the way that give your disc more lift and speed. Keep in mind that these stars serve as the app’s currency, allowing you to buy new levels or discs from the in-app store. Take your time, and you’ll collect both stars and upgrades over the course of a few hours. If you have more money than patience, you can buy 1,000 stars for a mere $.99, super-charging your fun and helping a developer pay the rent. Your goal? Earn or buy 8,000 stars to purchase the tasty and highly-sought Donut Frisbee. Yum!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Biological, Adoptive, Birth, Foster, Grandparent... Mother's Day

Friday, May 06, 2011

What's high school for?

Perhaps we could endeavor to teach our future the following:

  • How to focus intently on a problem until it's solved.
  • The benefit of postponing short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term success.
  • How to read critically.
  • The power of being able to lead groups of peers without receiving clear delegated authority.
  • An understanding of the extraordinary power of the scientific method, in just about any situation or endeavor.
  • How to persuasively present ideas in multiple forms, especially in writing and before a group.
  • Project management. Self-management and the management of ideas, projects and people.
  • Personal finance. Understanding the truth about money and debt and leverage.
  • An insatiable desire (and the ability) to learn more. Forever.
  • Most of all, the self-reliance that comes from understanding that relentless hard work can be applied to solve problems worth solving.

Source: Seth's Blog

Fri. | Legs & Back | Workout
Thu. | Walk & Rest | Workout
Wed. | P90X Plyometrics | Workout
Tue. | P90X Shoulders & Arms | Workout
Mon. | 16 mile Trail Bike Ride | Workout
Fitness Blueprint | Insanity/P90X #10 (Get P90X or start with Power 90)
Personal | Weight: 199 (Shakeology Snack Added)
Tracking Calories (iPad App)
Working at my Stand Up Desk (plans) (Why you should, too!)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Before summer starts, watch this. And remember.

Show this to your wife, your husband, your kids, your neighbors. Do it before summer starts. And every year. This kind of skin cancer is preventable. Find out how.

Kodak: "How many of you have bought a roll of film in the last year"

All marketers need to watch this hilarious keynote presentation at the Aprimo Marketing Summit earlier this year by Jeffrey Hayzlett, former Chief Marketing Officer of Kodak. Over the top, insightful, challenging, worth your time.

"At the end of the year, 80% of our business will be digital business... and 80% of the company is B2B(usiness), not B2C(onsumer). Massive change. At the same time, 60% of the people have been working at Kodak for less than 5 years. 19 products drive close to 80% of the revenue, and all the products in those categories are number 1, number 2, or number 3. Every single one. And half of those products didn't exist two years ago." (Sounds a bit like Intel.)

And now for something completely different... Keyboard cat, you will never die. Proof:

Sunday, May 01, 2011


Yes, it was loud, cute little flower girl. Now you're famous! My 2011 British royal wedding photobomb flower girl meme images. Adding more as they come to me... #RoyalWedding #frowningflowergirl Han Solo Kayne West Numa Numa Annoying Orange FRED King's Speech Roseanne Barr