Sharing Economy Is Caring Economy: New App Helps "Hack Hunger"

Yesterday we wrote about a less-pleasant (though useful) "Uber" type of "shared economy" app involving dog poop.  Today, we'll brighten the mood and talk about the victories of a shared-economy app that has been aiding human sustenance!


Be a superhero, straight from your smartphone!
(Image courtesy appdevelopmentmagazine.com.)

According to news.bitcoin.com, the Unsung app has been quietly helping those in need around the area of Austin, Texas.  By collecting and delivering unwanted/un-needed food from local restaurants and catering companies, the app has served over 1,000 meals to citizens of Austin who otherwise might have gone hungry.

The app "incentivizes" the donation process by teaming up with the Arcade City app, which is a ride-sharing program that seeks to streamline modern urban transportation.  If you find yourself traveling to a destination in need of food, bring some along!  Unsung.org's creator, Jason King, has previously helped create 167,000 meals with his initial project, Sean's Outpost.  Now, the Unsung facebook page is replete with images of local folks preparing, delivering, and otherwise abetting this great cause.


It's not too hard to be useful these days.
(Image courtesy collective-evolution.com.)

Those who aid the Unsung initiative may be rewarded with Bitcoin, as part of the projects "decentralized" persona.  The operation, while being promoted via various local media, has been maintained almost exclusively via social media, and has delivered its 1,000th meal within a month of its inception.


Check out #hackhunger for more information!
(Image courtesy cointelegraph.com.)

The efforts have snowballed, with one organizer on facebook extolling, "Many thanks to Sara and Co. for your generosity. May all of you be blessed many times over. We look forward to dividing these and serving our homeless community on your behalf."

All we are saying is give pieces of unwanted consumables a chance!  As Unsung.org rightfully claims, "The 'sharing economy' has never been this awesome."


Making it competitive only makes it more comprehensive...
right, America?
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)

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Swoop Out With The Poop Out: New App Hires People To Remove Your Dog's Mess

There's shitty jobs, and then there's LITERALLY shitty jobs.  In an age where manufacturing jobs are waning but posting pictures of your food on the internet can be a full-time business, the strange powers of commerce and instant gratification have combined into one nasty but necessary gig...

They'd use the app themselves, but they're too busy
sending selfies to all the bitches.
(Image courtesy 123rf.com.)



According to The Washington Post, a new app is available for those whose whose modern lives are too busy - or too fancy - to complete the unpleasant task of picking up after one's dog.  Oh sure, there's dog walking apps and dog-human matchup apps already, but this one is for people who still care enough to bond with their critter...just not enough to touch its litter.

If only all critters pooped cupcakes like the almighty pug.
Wait, what?
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

The app pulls no punches.  It's called Pooper.  It summons a willing servant to come and pick up after your pup.  Pooper functions like Uber, in that after your dog has done his business, you summon your business-partner via Pooper's GPS.  After snapping a poop-pic and pinning the poop location on a map, you are now free to continue your awesome, awesome life that in no way includes the handling of animal feces.

This will probably lead to a lot of artsy pooping pics,
which is weird.
IT'S WEIRD.  HIPSTERS, DON'T MAKE IT A THING.
(Image courtesy barkpost.com.)

The creators of the app assure the public that this is definitely not a joke, and is totally a real service that people inexplicably will flock to.  Co-founder Ben Becker believes they can ameliorate the serious street-shit problems many cities encounter, in a polite and precise manner.  “It’s not our intention to ostracize,” he said. “It is our intention to solve a problem in a unique way.”

"Who are you calling a problem?
This bucket is for you after six happy-hour margaritas."
(Image courtesy petmd.com.)

Pooper is currently being tested in New York, San Francisco, and L.A., with hopes of fully launching the service this fall.  Scoopers will receive tiered payments based on frequency of collection and distance traveled, and can expect to make more than minimum wage (though that's probably not a comfort to a professional poop-patroller.)  Various payment plans will allow users to obtain different quantities of scoops throughout different radii of travel.


Poop patrol, present!
(Image courtesy upgruv.com.)

The modern world's a fast place, and some times you need your precious pet to shit and split.  Why not help be a job creator thanks to your doggie defecator?  The pedestrians of many areas might thank you...

Hey, if they could do it themselves, people would be out of a job.
You don't want EVERY Millennial to be sans skills, right?
(Image courtesy mattrittercomedy.com.)




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Do Androids Dream On Electric Pillows? Because Now, You Can...

“Smart” devices pervade our culture, giving everything from your car to your medicine cabinet a mind of its own.  Now, even when your own mind is shut off for the night, a smart device can be there to keep you informed of your sleep stats.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is totally not a joke.  Meet the smart pillow.

If you like death metal and your partner likes dubstep,
now you can both snooze to your own tunes!
(Image courtesy kickstarter.com.)


According to engadget.com, the Zeeq “smart pillow” is a dreamy device that tracks the motion and volume of your snoring, lulls you to sleep with onboard speakers, and even wakes you up thanks to a vibrating motor (which doubles as a nudge to keep you from snoring too much.)

Created by the awakened mind of REM-Fit’s Miguel Marrero, the Zeeq was created out of a desire to fall asleep to music (despite whatever silence your partner prefers to enjoy.)  This escalated into a full-on pillow paradise.  REM-Fit, a subsidiary of Protect-A-Bed, made sure the Zeeq is as comfy as any other high-end pillow (despite the embedded tech touches), featuring a removable quilted outer cover and an interior stuffed with shredded memory foam (which can be removed to perfect your pillow-plushness preferences.)


That's like a terabyte of memory foam in there.
(Image courtesy theverge.com.)

The onboard speakers are connected loosely enough so that they don’t interfere with normal pillow operations.  They are large enough for the user to enjoy sonically, but not so obstreperous as to intervene on others’ ears.  Music options include “Zeeq Sleep Tracks” (free sound effects and mood music), connectivity to your own music, and even a premium Spotify option.  Other than those sounds, the motors make a noticeable noise, but are not required for your sleep experience.


You can quantify your conditions for every waking moment
...and now, every sleeping one.
(Image courtesy kickstarter.com.)

This whole techno-snoozing marvel is, of course, run via an app (there’s also a remote, but where’s the fun in that?)  The app creates a comprehensive “SleepScore” profile, into which you provide data on stress levels, exercise, and alcohol consumption.  The snoring monitors help factor in your depth of dreaminess.  A normal alarm and a “SmartWake” function both serve to stir you from slumber, with the SmartWake option rousing you if the pillow senses that maybe you feel like waking up early (probably not a feature a lot of folks will want, but hey, it’s a nice idea.)

Zeeq is currently on Kickstarter at $99 for early adopters, with an eventual retail price of $299.  That’s a pricy pillow, yes, but some superb sleep could be well worth it.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t report your dreams to the NSA…


Last thing we need is the damn dream police to show up...
(Image courtesy ANARCHY.)

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Get The Word Out: New In-Ear Device Translates Foreign Languages In Real-Time

Have you ever dreamed of traveling the world, conversing freely with the people you meet, exchanging stories and experiences despite your myriad differences in language and location?  Or have you at least dreamed of hollering down the bar at that foreign hottie in their native language and obtaining more than a baffled look (and possibly a slap) in return?

If so, a new bit of technology just became your international wingman.


Pictured:  the world's first commercial in-ear translator,
the app that helps choose languages,
and the mademoiselle that now can't pretend she doesn't understand you.
(Image courtesy la-kabylie.com.)


According to BoredPanda.com, a new device called "The Pilot" will enable users to hear a foreign conversation partner's voice translated in real time, face-to-face.  The Pilot, which fits directly into the ear, processes human speech and then translates it verbally in the user's desired language, all nigh-instantaneously.

The device was reportedly invented after its creator fell for a French girl and direly wanted to speak with her (you know, quickly, sans years of intensive language training.)


That's pretty romantic to invent a world-changing device just to hit on someone,
even by the stereotypical extremely-romantic French standards.
(Image courtesy teenlover.my1.ru.)

The Pilot, which is being developed by Waverly Labs, will hit the shelves in September and retail for $129.  You can pre-order here (and then book yourself a trip to Ibiza, Berlin, Paris or Rome for New Year's!)  Currently The Pilot has the ability to process Spanish, French, German, English, and Italian via the earpiece plus attendant phone app, so you can be quite the international man (or woman) of mystery.

Well, actually, now that the whole "ability to communicate with literally millions more people" thing is solved, the only mystery will be whether your game is strong enough to compete with everyone else hitting on the beer maidens at Oktoberfest.  Or the go-go boys in Barcelona.  Or the sultry artists in Florence.  Or...well, you get the picture.  We're told it's worth at least a thousand words.


Time to work on your drinking skills, you have a Europe to go conquer!
(Image courtesy wsj.com.)

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A New Don: "Yuuuge"-ly Popular App Lets Players Build Trump's Wall

The race for the presidency of the United States is heating up, with vitriol, intrigue, and computer "warfare" the likes of which society has never seen.  Hillary Clinton has spent millions trying to convince shills to talk her up online and detract from her opponents (all while playing ignorant to a swath of computer crimes), while Bernie Sanders has crowdfunded a surprisingly vibrant support network via his online followers.

However, it is the nimbly adaptable Donald Trump who has used modern technology to encompass a uniquely strong spectrum, beginning with developing an oddly-enthusiastic contingent of "alt-right" supporters who create memes and catchphrases to exult the admittedly-engaging rhetoric of "Make America Great Again."

And now, as any good leader of the future would have, there is an app that supports his vision.


Could this be the ticket to resolving decades of lax leadership?
Or is an app just the start of more political games?
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)


According to Koin.com, a new Donald Trump-themed app called "Trump's Wall" is currently at the top of the charts.  The humorously-intended game uses simple claw-game style mechanics, and the objective is (of course!) to build a wall as high as possible - a threat/promise the construction-magnate Trump has frequently propositioned regarding the U.S. border with Mexico.

The game positions the wall outside of a building that closely resembles the White House, but bearing Trump's name atop the edifice.  As the height escalates, the digital Trump avatar spouts some of his classic slogans, telling you how "yuuuuge" your creation will be.

Not a screencap from the game, but possibly
a glimpse into the future?
(Image courtesy www.guancha.cn.)

Of course, if you fail, he proclaims, "You're fired!"

Could this app usher in a new facet of political cognizance, where electronically actualizing goals set by candidates or those in office helps to inspire the general populace to further ponder their possible successes and failures if extrapolated into real life?  Or it is just "Angry Birds" with bricks and a comb-over?

The game is not a first-person shooter, so calm down those
preemptively-hurt feelings, liberal snowflakes.
(Image courtesy reddit.com.)

Only time and tenacious touchscreen-tapping will tell.  By the way, if you hate Trump too much to even entertain the idea of his success, you can keep yourself amused with the free computer game Drumpulous, where you shoot pixelated dildos at Trump's head.

Remember kids, don't delay...now's the time to start training athletically and packing your go-bags for the likely apocalypse this November.  Don't assume for a second that all of this isn't going to get much, much crazier.


Still better than a war criminal though, right?
Maybe?
(Image courtesy drumpulous.itch.io.)

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Strained Brains And Song Refrains: Could This New Music App Help Restore Some Lucidity To Those Afflicted With Declining Minds?

Music has been inextricably linked to culture, community, and comradeship since the first caveman hit some rocks together in a catchy beat.  Its influence has spanned the globe and has even journeyed into the stars.  Our greatest composers and artists are held in the same respectful strata as our greatest heroes...and now, there might be one more reason why.


Rock out 'til the clock's out.
(Image courtesy kindakind.com.)



According to Spark Memories Radio, those who suffer from declining cognitive function could possibly benefit from listening to the music of their youth.  The app is a streaming radio service that is "designed to stir memories, trigger brain activity and enhance quality of life in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias."

The app, which plays on any smartphone or tablet, has an easy setup and one-touch playability (so those who grew up rocking out to Victrolas don't have to worry about anything too high-tech.)  By establishing the user's birthdate, numerous playlists are offered that will transport the user back to better, brainier times.

You don't need to tell him that's not a real guitar.
Or even that he was a lifelong trumpet player.
The music will say everything.
(Image courtesy smosh.com.)

As Spark Memories Radio explains:
"Simply enter your Loved One’s date of birth to start a continuous stream of songs from your Loved One’s formative years when powerful connections were made with people, places and events. Hearing these carefully selected songs sparks the memory of those times creating joy, happiness, and a higher level of functioning."
Created by Alzheimer's researcher and musician Dr. Rudolf Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard University and the director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit as Mass General Hospital, the idea is entertaining, innovative, and even at its worst certainly can't hurt (how many medical treatments can say that?)

As Tanzi says, "Music has a powerful effect on the brain.  We are emotionally stimulated, aware and active when we hear music we loved most."   He believes the synaptic activity such music might arouse would be enough to possibly propel moments of lucidity in less-aware loved ones.


When it doubt, break out the classic hardcore.


Sounds good, doesn't it?  You can read more about how Spark Memories Radio works via their FAQ page.  Just because you get older - or even find yourself possibly losing your cognitive capacity - it's no reason not to enjoy the tunes that shaped your formative years.  Rock (or jazz, or swing) on!


Look how well music therapy keeps working for these senior citizens!
This could be a serious scientific breakthrough...
(Image courtesy kmbfm.com.)

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The Good, The Bad, And The Drugly: Tech's Green Scene, 4/20/16

If you happen to partake in a certain combustible, leafy green type of relaxing refreshment, today is known as the default holiday in which it is particularly celebrated (as opposed to how some use it during all the other major holidays...or days...)  Here's a look at some of the better e-ideas surrounding cannabis culture, and one that's only half-baked...

A very different type of "green" technology will be discussed today.
(Image courtesy gizmodo.co.uk.)

We'll start with the good stuff.  The technology surrounding cannabis consumption has come a long way from manual joint-rolling machines.  One of the standout products currently on the market for marijuana enthusiasts is the Pax 2 vaporizer.  These vaporizers are a type of smoking device that use medical-grade heating compartments ("the oven") to heat the plant matter just enough to release the precious THC compounds into your lungs (but not cause an excess of combustion - meaning no lighters are required, and no smoke is emitted.)


And it's good for more hits than Muhammad Ali.
(Image courtesy youtube.com.)

The Pax 2 is the sports car of smoking (well, technically, vaping.)  Four heat settings allow for precise control of the "oven-loads", meaning you can choose how heavy your hit is before your lips even hit the mouthpiece.  When your lungs have had their fill, sensors use motion-control technology to deduce when you've set the piece down to go get pizza or listen to "Dark Side Of The Moon" or whatever, and will conserve battery life.  The lithium-ion batteries can be charged via a magnetic USB port, and one-touch operation enables effortless ecstasy.  The Pax 2's sleek design is embedded with an LED that indicates readiness - purple for pre-heatings, green for get hiiiiiiiigh.

The Pax 2 (left) and its high-tech guts (right.)
Don't worry, you don't need to eviscerate it to load a bowl.
(Image courtesy techinsider.io.)


But where are you going to keep you stash in between your futuristic festivities?  There's a discreet way to keep your trees close at hand...literally.  This real, working optical computer mouse features a secret stash compartment, and even a miniature digital scale!  Hey, at least it's the last place your scavenger roommate (or the cops) will search...AND you'll never have to worry about forgetting where you hid things when you were high.

This is some new-wave ninja shit right here.
(Image courtesy weedgadgets.com.)

However, not every high idea (highdea?) is a good one, as evidenced by today's fray from Snapchat.  The photo-sharing app made another of its signature filters available today, however things took an unfortunate dark turn.  The filter, which made users appear to look like the reggae music legend Bob Marley, was quickly decried for its apparent usage of the "blackface" stereotype.

There is such a thing as "too high", and this is what it creates.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)

Snapchat had made the following statement in an attempt to reconcile things:  
“The lens we launched today was created in partnership with the Bob Marley Estate, and gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements.”

Let's hope their users can forget this unfortunate effort, and let's get together and feel alright.  In the meantime, perhaps Snapchat will somehow think of a way to ask for what Marley valued so dearly...redemption.





One last thing before we sneak out to the fire escape for a fattie...the cannabis industry will be ferociously fired up if fully legalized in America, so for you tech-heads who also may happen to be hop-heads, here is Forbes' list of canna-centric tech jobs that will make your future a little bit brighter, for those with a certain kind of higher aspiration.

We hope all of our readers had a safe and significant day!



Always remember that it is you, dear reader, who is the true bomb-bomb diggy.
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Words Up: "Expresso" App Helps Edit Your Wrecks Of Text

Writing is one of those art forms that's particularly unpleasant when its bad.  And now, in the age of texting everything and bastardizing verbiage 2 d point tht it loox lik ths (sorry, we won't do that again), it's sometimes hard to remember how to construct a coherent communication without sounding idiotic OR overly loquacious.  Now, there's an app to adjust your adjectives...

Tied up with editing effectively?  This app can help.
(Image courtesy thepolyman.com.)


According to Mental Floss, the Expresso app identifies unnecessary elements of style in your compositions, and helps you trim the literary fat to make your writing sound stronger.  

There are the stylistic problems that even seasoned writers can fall into - double negatives ("I didn't think he wouldn't read the article"), passive voice ("The article was read by the student"), and run-on sentences (self-explanatory, don't make us spend ten more paragraphs on a good example, because we will, and it'll be ridiculous.)  However, the app also searches for more common errors that casual writers might not even be aware they're committing.  Elements like weak verbs and filler words will also be called out for improvement.


Fuck your feelings.  State your point.
Murder weak words with impunity.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)


While the Expresso is no substitute for practice, perseverance, and a good professional editor, it can definitely indicate where prospective authors need work.  Similarly, it can indicate what elements you like (but were unable to pinpoint) in the works of your favorite authors.  Simply copy and paste text, or write it directly into the app (which is free), and the prognosis is presented.  Users can even identify how many "rare" words they use, which synonyms they could substitute to spice things up, and what reading level the test is appraised at.


Synonyms can be critically effective when describing clusterfucks problematic scenarios.
(Image courtesy devix.tumblr.com.)

The Expresso website is quick to note that its teaching of technique is only a starting point, stating, “Writing metrics employed by Expresso can be powerful but they are not a 'magic bullet'...Good writing style remains an art, not a science.”

There's nothing wrong with using a little science to help it out, though.    

We meant the science involved in the app, Hemingway,
not the science of mixology!
But hey, whatever gets the right words down.
(Image courtesy dotandbo.com.)




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The Witness Of Fitness: Health Apps Want Your Hot Body (Of Data)

Do you have a smartphone, smartwatch, or otherwise e-enabled device that you use to keep track of your health and fitness habits?  That's good, in the sense that you care enough about yourself to hopefully not totally devolve into a donut-demolishing dumpster.  It's bad, however, that all of your fitness data might not just be kept solely between you and your get-buff gadgetry.

"Sweet, I just beat my best 5K time!
But what's with all these ads to join the army?"
(Image courtesy lifefitness.com.)




According to Mens' Health magazine, 58% of smartphone users have some form of fitness app installed.  Some 81% of those apps have no privacy policy whatsoever.  That means that any number of interlopers from the health and fitness industry (or worse) could be dipping into your microchips for more ways to figure out how to escalate their multi-billion dollar empire.  Do you prefer biking to running?  Gyms to home workouts?  Do you shop at certain health food stores, run certain routes, patronize certain compression sock companies?  All of this ends up informing the larger corporate collective.

We live in a world where even your new athletic socks can snitch on you.
(Image courtesy wanelo.com.)

Worse, with 70% of Americans classified as overweight or obese, there are many ways that our data can be used to lead us further into temptation.  Do you go to a gym in a strip mall?  The other businesses might send out some chain-restaurant coupons singing the siren song of sugars and salt.  Do the recent data trends indicate that people are laying off visits to McDonalds?  Better escalate the ads for Shamrock Shakes!

We're so sorry to have to show you these tragic stats, though yes,
it is fucking totally rarely and deliciously worth the extra hour in the gym.
(Image courtesy chiabia.com.)

While some apps may ask for your permission to share data, openly admit to sharing your data, or at least hold off on talking about you if you're underage, it's worth keeping an eye on various health apps' privacy policies as much as it is keeping track of your own fitness.  In a way, maintaining your privacy is a form of fitness unto itself.


And remember, you can still get fit sans any tech devices.
Just imagine your favorite apocalypse scenario, and train to survive it!
(Image courtesy plus.google.com.)

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Jumpin' Jack Flash, It's An App: Rock The Rolling Stones' New Release

The Rolling Stones are the encyclopedic definition of rock 'n roll.  After over 50 years, 29 studio albums, and unquestionably the most iconic frontman to ever pivot, prance, pounce, and pout across a stage, if you're not getting some kind of satisfaction from these guys, you're doing something wrong.  And now, there's an app to help get yer ya-yas out...

Hipsters, you are not the Rolling Stones.
But maybe you can learn a thing or two from them.
(Image courtesy iorr.org.)




According to therollingstones.com, the lads have created a way for fans to stay apprised of Stones stuff, whether you're sitting on a fence or 2000 light years from home.  Produced by Disciple Media, the official new Rolling Stones app is heralded as "'THE destination for all things in the Stones’ world’ – an App right at the cutting edge of smartphone tech, which delivers unparalleled access to connect with the band’s longstanding, loyal fanbase."


A few Stones fans at Altamont Speedway, CA, 1969.
Now, you can freak out together via app.
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

The Stones, who are currently rocking out Latin America in their Latina Olé tour, plan to feature live streaming videos, updates from band members, ticket pre-sale deals, special contests, previously-unseen audio and images, and other exclusive content via the app.

We're most excited about the behind-the-scenes, on-the-road rowdiness that will appear.  Fans, friends, and street-fighting men can download the free app for iOS and Android here.



It's the Rolling fucking Stones.  They are champions of this.
BTW, listen to "Beggar's Banquet."
(Image courtesy tumblr.com.)

The Stones are set to play a historic free show in Havana, Cuba on March 28th.  If Keith Richards is any indication, further adventures will continue at least until the sun goes black, the universe collapses upon itself and ceases to exist, and the Stones all leave this dimension for want of more extreme existence-spanning excellence (and cigarettes.)

"I'm sorry, did you think I was going somewhere?"  -Keith Richards, probably

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Seek Guidance (Through Traffic) From Morgan Freeman's Voice

The demand is simple:  you need to go places, which likely requires directions.  Those directions can be read off of a boring old map, or a guy who once played God can liltingly illuminate them for you.

"Get busy ridin', or get busy dyin'."
(Image courtesy buzzfeed.com.)



That's right, according to Gizmodo, the velvety rumble that is the voice of Morgan Freeman can now give you direction...if not in life, then at least to another physical destination.  Using the Waze app, which is the world's largest community-sourced network of traffic updates and road-travel plans, you can navigate your neighborhood as though Robin Hood's trusty sidekick was your own.

"Starbucks again?  Really dude?
It's a good thing this is just an app and not a life debt."
(Image courtesy blacknerdproblems.com.)

Of course, there is an ulterior motive to this smooth-talking situation:  it's a promotional stunt for Freeman's new film, "London Has Fallen" (the sequel to 2013's "Olympus Has Fallen.")  Freeman plays the U.S. Vice President who must help out England after terrorists invade.  The film will be released on March 4th.  Who cares if it's a marketing ploy, though?  Morgan Freeman is addressing you as if you were the president!

Not that you wouldn't be the best choice, at this point.
(Image courtesy imgur.com,)

To obtain Freeman's beautiful baritone for your own, simply download the Waze app, then hit the Morgan pedal by going to "Settings" in the app, then Sound > Voice Language > Morgan Freeman.  Let the mellifluous Morgan melt your worries away as you travel on your March of the...Whatever.

This sounds like an even better idea than last year's "Terminator" promo that featured the abrupt, authoritarian audio of Arnold Schwarzenegger guiding citizens around cities.  Well, this whole idea is basically Skynet in beta, who did you expect would start off the soundtrack?


And the man does know how to travel in style.
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

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Support Sans Surprises: New App Helps Divorced Parents Fund Without Fury

Divorce can be brutal.  Now, there's a way to fight for what you (and hopefully, your kids) need without any of the...well, monstrous fights.  Thank whatever god (or lack of god) that you believe in, someone invented an app to deal with finances after your marriage fails...


When procreation turns to recreation, sometimes you deserve compensation.
(Image courtesy fullredneck.com.)


No one (save sadists) wants to draw things out, so here it is:  it's called SupportPay.  Do you owe fines on your kid's expensive art/karate/computer classes?  Get it attended to (save arguments.)  

Run via PayPal, the SupportPay strata is an interesting new idea that allows parents to debate the merits of their children's supposed support networks (thankfully, sans court intervention.)  If you feel that Junior's pricey chess lessons aren't paying off, or if you suspect that classical-music career is something being more imposed than inspired in your child, you're allowed to e-pull the financial plug.

Just remember, your child-rearing capability (or complete lack thereof)
can still be called into legal question.
(Image courtesy treehugger.com.)

Obviously, this is going to look egregious to your estranged partner.  But it's just a matter of numbers, says Ryan Falvey, managing director at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, who helped put SupportPay on the moneyed map. “This might be where technology can solve things in a big way, just by connecting people to information,” he claimed.

Some 36,000 parents are already invested in the service, which began charging $120 per year last September.  $36 extra means that your divorce attorney can sling those attendant arrows in court (though the "Lite" version still keeps a full six months of records on hand for use.)  Some 3,200 divorce attorneys, mediators, judges, and financial advisers are currently invested in the SupportPay system.

And , let's be honest, shit-tons more will follow.
(Image courtesy stylepinner.com.)

Financial accounts can be connected not just for child support, but also for college payments and other bills that add up while safekeeping your spawn.  You can learn more and even try SupportPay free for thirty days by visiting their website.

Because they're worth it, or something.

Seriously.
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

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Iran, And You Can Run Too: New Iranian App For Avoiding Morality Police

In much of the world, apps can provide amusing diversions or helpful little bits of information for daily life.  However in Iran, one app has achieved a new level of importance regarding an issue that few Westerners would (hopefully) never have to worry about...

How would you like to be fined and forced to sign a confession of repentance
just for not covering your hair?
(Image courtesy bbc.com.)

According to iranhumanrights.org, the new Gershad app allows users to avoid the morality police that enforce the government's arcane rules regarding public behavior.  Citizens can upload information regarding the location of the Ershad ("Guidance") squad's mobile enforcement units so that women who dare show their hair (and other perceived moral atrocities) can exist freely.

Despite the app's servers being located outside of Iran, the app was blocked by the Iranian government after only one day.  Within hours of the app's launch, it was downloaded thousands of times.

This is your map icon for navigating around the morality squads, heathen.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)

Iran's citizens are ruled by an Islamic theocratic state in which the general populace are not allowed to enjoy many luxuries that Western citizens take for granted.  The morality police, a security force under the auspices of the Revolutionary Guards and Interior Ministry, may harass people in public over slights as innocent as riding in a car with an unmarried member of the opposite sex.  Females are particularly targeted for not observing proper hijab (dress and head covering) while in public. In 2014, nearly three million warnings were given to Iranian women regarding this issue.

In addition to the government's tenacity, the far-right Iranians who decry the perceived loss of public morality often form vigilante groups to impose their own style of morality policing. Trendy hair or stylish clothes on men are taboo, as are a litany of female activities, including wearing too much makeup or simply taking a stroll with a male companion. Various interpretations of what is officially forbidden exist, adding to even more social stress.


Although we kind of understand policing certain ridiculous male trends.
It's effective...there's no Islamic hipsters (Hipslamics?)
(Image courtesy deathandtaxesmag.com.)


According to the BBC, the Gershad developers explained their reasoning in a statement on their website: "Police need to provide security for the citizens not to turn into a factor for fear. A while ago, angry with such unreasonable oppressions, we looked for a solution to find a practical way to resist the volume of injustices peacefully with low risk level, to restore part of our freedom."

Although the app has been shut down, the idea of it cannot be.  Gershad's developers say they are working on a secure, updated version of the app.  Hopefully a replacement or updated version of the software will be made available to help more folks find freedom.


This the farthest thing from a party bus that you ever want to encounter.
(Image courtesy iranhumanrights.org.)


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Gin + Rummy = A Winston Churchill-Themed Solitaire App From Donald Rumsfeld?

Almost everyone these days has a favorite game on their portable device or computer, and more are invented by the day.  But if you want something a little more classic than Angry Birds, yet something that also smacks of insidious military domination, well, Donald Rumsfeld has got a new game for you.

The angriest bird of all is that which represents a deceived American public.
(Image courtesy memes.com.)

According to NPR, the game is called Churchill Solitaire, and was taught to Rumsfeld by Belgian diplomat who claimed Churchill had taught it to him personally.  Instead of traditional solitaire, it utilizes two decks of cards, ten rows of cards, and an extra stash of six cards called "The Devil's Six" which can influence your strategy.  Rumsfeld, the former Secretary of Defense for six years of the Bush administration, had time to mastermind the game in the same way that he helped mastermind a decade-long, multi-pronged assault on two nations that ultimately left the United States trillions of dollars in debt.

The actual Devil's Six pile, from top L-R: Former US President George W. Bush, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Iraqi Vice Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, former US Vice President Dick Cheney, former US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald fucking Rumsfeld.
(Image courtesy arabnews.com.)

Despite later claiming he was not expecting democracy to flourish in Iraq (in direct contradiction of statements he made during the initial onslaught of the war in 2003), Rumsfeld had also urged previous presidents into action invading the middle east, surmising that a game of "democratic dominoes" would follow in each violent, often theologically-entrenched regime.  While that particular game faltered to the tune of hundreds of thousands of lives, at least Rumsfeld's attempts at a simple card game app have been somewhat more promising.

As referenced by Russia Insider, Rumsfeld was happy to announce, "I’ve done business, politics, and war. Now I’m trying my hand at mobile gaming."

The public responded enthusiastically in turn.



The attendant comments may well prove to be more entertaining than the game itself.
(Image courtesy russia-insider.com.)

Players begin as a young cadet Churchill at Sandhurst military school, and victories allow you to level up in military rank, all the way to Prime Minister.  Options to challenge friends, family, random opponents, or innocent denizens of oil-rich middle eastern nations are offered.  "Classic graphics and audio" are a built-in tribute to "Sir Winston, his words, and his era." 

Which, to be fair, are pretty awesome.
(Image courtesy celebquote.com.)

 As for difficulty, Rumsfeld claims the game is “probably the most challenging and strategic game of logic or puzzle” he's ever played, which sort of implies that he puts more thoughts into card games than international acts of war.  (That's not us putting words in his mouth...Rumsfeld openly said of Iraq“You begin to look at this thing not like a war, but more like the cold war...You’re not going to win this with bullets, you’re in a competition of ideas.”)

WRONG IDEA, KID!
(Image courtesy en.wikipedia.org.)

As TIME magazine noted, "What Adam Sandler is to Shakespearean acting, what Melissa McCarthy is to Bolshoi ballet, Donald Rumsfeld is to Churchillian strategy."  After having been convicted of war crimes by a tribunal that is unfortunately all the way over in Malaysia, Rumsfeld had laid relatively low in the US, but his crafty attempts at bolstering his legacy were well-noted by TIME, who explained,  "...Rumsfeld’s project involves more than a card game. His gambit has successfully linked his name to the search terms “Churchill” and “strategy” in the vast algorithmic mind of Google—which is, increasingly, the mill where history is rough-hewn."

Speaking of rough-hewn history...
(Image courtesy peterslarson.com.)

Not that those are the only words surrounding the project.  The app, invented by one of the most diabolical men in recent history, hails itself as "the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised."  It's free, unlike the detainees at Gitmo who have never received a fair trial, despite it supposedly being one of the hallmarks of American justice.  In-app purchases will contribute in part to military veterans and advancing the keywords of Churchill's legacy.

As for the architect, he's pleased at its poison.  "I've enjoyed beating the young folks who have tried to keep up with my score," said Rumsfeld. 

No word on if "score" is a metaphor for "body count."

This one graphic is classier than Rumsfeld's entire continued existence.
(Image courtesy medium.com.)

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That Tune In Your Head...Lock It Down With This New App

So, you're a rockstar.  Or at least you're attempting to be one.  Really, someone needs to step up and fill a few recently-vacated positions, so why not you?  It's just that sometimes, those facemelting solos and sweet, sweet licks escape your brain while you're trudging away at your day job (or the bar...whatever, we don't judge.)  Fear not, however...there's now a way to keep track of your proto-"Greatest Hits" album...

All they need now is a screaming crowd app, a tour booking app,
and a doing-lines-off-strippers'-butts app.
But until then, you can still rock out.
(Image courtesy USAToday.com.)



According to NME.com, Apple has developed a new app that allows musicians to make detailed, descriptive notes regarding their works-in-progress.  Called Music Memos, the free download will aid and abet your creative coolness without requiring a stack of bar napkins and a half-dead Sharpie.

An interface so simple, even drummers can use it!
Mostly because there's pre-programmed drum loops.
(Image courtesy slashgear.com.)

Much like the company's previous Voice Memos app, which records audio onto iPads and iPods, this version features higher-quality recording capabilities as well as the ability to utilize instrumental presets to round out your sound.  Be honest, how many times have you stared at a scrap of paper and wondered what your scrawled "Ba-ba-buh-BEE-bop, ba-bop-ba-WAOWWW" was actually supposed to sound like?

Come on, you're better than this.
No matter how many shots of Jack it took to torture the creation out of your brain.
(Image courtesy claudiaconstancemartin.com.)

The real beauty of the Music Memos app, however, is that it detects when an instrument is being played, and offers chord, key, and other notational ideas.  That's right, it's like Shazam, but in real-time.  Even if you don't know the title of the song being played, dammit, you can extrapolate that beauty.  Because artforms.

Don't get dissed by the cool musicians.  Keep your composition game on point.
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

Noted 21st century artist T-Pain, who claims to have recorded his first album on Apple's GarageBand software, hailed the Music Memos app as a facilitator to “change the way an entire generation makes music."  Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams also chimed in, extolling, “It quite literally blew my mind how Music Memos could transform a single guitar idea into a whole composition with a virtual drummer loose enough that it felt like you were having your mind read by some A.I. musician and a choice of stand-up or electric bass accompaniments.”


Boom!  With Music Memos, you're now a composer.  Just add...uh...music.
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

Oh, and speaking of rockin' new Apple items, you can now update iOS to provide a "metal horns" emoticon.  Rock onward!


It's universal and needs no translation.
Suck it, smiley face.
(Image courtesy NME.com.)


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Leave A Message, I'm Busy Vaping: New E-Cigarette/Cell Phone Hybrid

As we hurtle towards a fascinating future filled with automation of all ilk, we must be careful that our desires for instant gratification are not surrendered to a ridiculous level of robotics.  Sure, it's nice to have certain things on your phone, like the ability to customize your wake-up routine (complete with kickstarting the coffee pot from bed!), or an app that lets you cuddle with other peoples' dogs, but really...do we need an e-cigarette on there too?  Really?


A fire-free Frankenphone to fill your lungs in between chats.  Oh, technology, you're so crazy.
(Image courtesy ohgizmo.com.)




Well, whether you like it or not, it's happening.  According to ohgizmo.com, a new type of e-cigarette is compatible with an Android smartphone, ostensibly so you can enjoy some of your most ardent addictions at once.

Video games, a booty call and a smoke after, ALL IN ONE!
(Image courtesy brobible.com.)

The Jupiter IO3 from Vaporcade combines all the refreshing flavored vapor of an e-cigarette with the ability to call your mom and simultaneously get yelled at for smoking.  It runs Android KitKat 4.4 and maintains a heroic 16 hours of battery time due to its shared dual power sources - one for the phone, one for that sweet, sweet e-nicotine.  Using less of one means more of the other, so the less Candy you Crush, the more candy-flavored "nectar" you can suck down.

The flavored liquid cartridges, which are sold separately, retail for $15.  They're good for about 800 puffs (the equivalent of 4 packs of analog butts) and can be regulated by an attendant app.  This showcases the level of nicotine inherent to the drags, liquid levels, and more smoker stats that could possibly be of use if you're trying to cut down (HAH), or achieve something similar to your previous combustion-inhalation caliber.

That's right, you can even get a hookah hose for it.
No word on it it's curly, like an old phone cord.
(Image courtesy techcrescendo.com.) 

The Jupiter retails for $299 (3G version) or $399 (4G version), and is available now.  And though we've no word on it yet, it only stands to reason that some intrepid medical marijuana company will make their own components for it, because this is sort of a world-wonder of stoner engineering ("Duuuude you can smoke your phooonnne, mannn.")

Let's just hope there's nothing truthful about all those reports of cell phones and e-cigarettes being harmful...the combination might be too much to bear.

To be fair, it doesn't look any more silly than other giant honking vape cloudmakers.
To each their own, even in a phone.
(Image courtesy sipse.com.)




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Slip Into The Past Via Smartphone! New App Pinpoints Old And New Cityscapes To Discover

New York, New York, it's a hell of a town.  That much is obvious.  But in the gleaming city of glass, it can sometimes be difficult to remember the extent of the history that has happened through the many years the Big Apple has grown, fallen, gotten chomped up, and re-budded on the tree of life.  Now, thanks to a new app, you can enjoy some top-shelf time-travel right on your phone.

mulberry-after.jpg
mulberry-before.jpg
Yes, Mulberry Street in Chinatown/Little Italy has always been madness.
(Image courtesy ny.curbed.com.)



According to NY Curbed, a new app called Déjà Vu can, in certain spots, spirit you away into the realms of yore...at least via photographs.  It's creator describes Déjà Vu as "a collection of individually-curated old photographs that show the city around you as it used to be, each selected for a specific historical reason."  And as always in life, there's weird and wonderful discrepancies between things that constantly change and things that seem to universally remain.

Mere decades separate the chic High Line pedestrian traverse from
a freight rail line that serviced the National Biscuit Company.
(Image courtesy itunes.com.)

The app, which retails for $1.99, is functional in Boston and Washington D.C. as well, but it's NYC where the abundance of photo sites really come to life.

For instance, this war-looted pile of German helmets from 1918 seems like a monument for the ages, but in reality it was a publicity stunt to raise money for the 5th War Loan.

Calling it "Victory Plaza" and adding statues and cannons totally helped the cause.
(Image courtesy ny.curbed.com.)

However, these days, the image from the same vantage point just features the Halsey Building, and the now-ubiquitous automobile traffic.  Would you have ever guessed what kind of history was hiding behind your lunchtime stroll?

Not pictured:  remnants of mass carnage.  Park Ave's current, boring manifestation.
(Image courtesy ny.curbed.com.)


Or how about the timeless similarities of well-known landmarks?  NYC has plenty of them to compare and contrast temporal coolness with.

The Flatiron Building in 1902.  Don't ask what the rent was.
(Image courtesy ny.curbed.com.)

The Flatiron in 2015.  No longer one of the tallest, but still the most triangle-y.
(Image courtesy ny.curbed.com.)

The app also uses your phone's GPS and gyroscope features to direct you to exactly where the original photographer stood, so your revamped modern image can match up as precisely as possible to the past.

Proving that Boston's street designs were ridiculous, even back in the day.
(Image courtesy bostinno.streetwise.com.)

If your city or neighborhood isn't categorized here yet, no worries.  Creator  E.J. Kalafarski told psfk.com, “I’m always adding more photos, and whenever new interesting photos come to my attention, we add them to the app so users have immediate access...We’re definitely planning to add more [cities], and I think cities like San Francisco, Paris, and Berlin will be tremendous opportunities to take trips into the past.”

Have fun on your temporal traipse, history buffs!

Just try not to cry too hard when you see what's become of the old Penn Station.
Hint: add about a billion bricks.
(Image courtesy dailymail.co.uk.)




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Exclusive: New Year's Noise Maker App

2015 is quickly drawing to a close and aGupieWare's exclusive New Year's Eve Noise Maker app is available from the App Store for just $0.99.  The app plays numerous New Year's Eve sounds and songs. Irritate ears with the sound of a horn. Twist brains with the twirler sound. Perform an ensemble of the instruments above, or play the classic New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne." Bring the noise!
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All The Glory Of The Natural World - Identified By App

It's been unseasonably warm in many parts of the country, and that means plants might still be present in your neighborhood.  If there's a certain bit of flora that's been beyond your categorization, now, you can use a variety of apps to get to the bottom of these pretty mysteries...

No word on whether the app yet recognizes the elusive "Pac-Man Pine."
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

According to growsomethinggreen.com, the Pl@ntNet app was developed in 2009, and has now gathered a wide variety of user-submitted plant imagery containing flowers, trees, and other non-fauna living things that have been conclusively identified.  The free app uses visual recognition software to recognize some 4,100 varieties of plants.  A "contribution" button adds a human vote if you can positively ID the presented species, which after a collaborative approval, goes in a library with other users' images.


You're now a botanist thanks to some robotics.  A robotanist, if you will.
(Image courtesy artinmovimiento.com.)

The Pl@ntNet app is useful for both amateur and professional botanists, as those without expertise learn from the best, and those who are supposed to be keeping their eyes peeled for certain plants will have updates on where certain invasive species may encroach before they literally lay down roots.  The app works most effectively when users submit a close-up of a specific organ of the plant, which they can preface with the distinction of "Leaf", "Flower", "Fruit" or "Bark" to aid in more accurate determination of type.  Researchers hope that this tactic of more boots in the grass will allow for better understanding and resolution of ecological problems.

But what if your leaf-peeping is more focused towards the trees, and needs refined results so you can start impressing lumberjacks?  No worries, there is the LeafSnap app for your adventures.  This series of field guides (whose contributors include Columbia University and the Smithsonian) will help you easily e-identify trees using images of, as per their description, "leaves, flowers, fruits, petioles, seeds and bark."

Note:  "lumbersexuals" will need more than just this app and fine forestry fashion
to make it in the professional trunk-chopping scene.
(Image courtesy pintest.com.)

Worst case scenario, if you feel you have encountered a truly alien species, you can use the Google Goggles app to scan an image against the oracle that is Google's database.  This also works for unknown album art, peculiar paintings, odd architecture, and many other images you can't seem to place.  Goggles can even read text presented in images and translate through English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Turkish.

And you seek the truest and more pure form of natural beauty known to the human eye, far more spectacular than any mere mountainside marigold or trembling tree could deign to assume precedence over, you can now use the TrumPainter app to paint glorious masterpieces using the face of The Donald himself.  Capture this natural phenomenon and revel in the wonder of Trumpdom, which would likely, if left to its own devices, cover the world in high-rise condos and make the preceding plant apps utterly useless.

Sanity, you're fired.
(Image courtesy googleusercontent.com.)

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Hot Stuff: Germany's Peppr App Abets Their Legalized Prostitution

Do you like hookup apps, but hate the inconvenience of actually having to pretend to care about someone long enough to trick them into getting naked with you?  If you're in Germany, no worries...the prostitution app Peppr eliminates all possible hassles from your tryst transactions.

No need for dealings like this any more.
Like all the other societally-frowned-on stuff you participate in, now just use your phone!
(Image courtesy vice.com.)




According to Time magazine, the Peppr app has become a revolutionary new force for fornication.  Operational since April of last year, Peppr trades off of Germany's legal, $21 billion-a-year sex industry, and is billed as "the first mobile Web app for booking erotic entertainment."

Simply verify you're over 18, choose your location (Berlin or Frankfurt), pick your partner's gender of preference, and scroll through a trove of tarts who are willing to commit a selection of sexy acts for you.  "The Pepprs", as the site's sultry stars are hailed, offer pictures, pricing, availability, proximity, and descriptions of services right there on their profile to help expedite your erotic adventure.


Yes, ladies, you can pay for "the boyfriend experience" with the schnitzel of your choice.
Show them off or get it on, your Peppr is there for your pleasure.
(Image courtesy peppr-app.com.)

A small booking fee (5 or 10 Euro) maintains the site's service as your e-pimp.  Co-founder Pia Poppenreiter simply wants sex work to be as non-"shabby" and easily facilitated as possible.  She explained, “I was walking down Oranienburger Straße — I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth — it was chilly, and I saw the poor girls on the streets, and I thought, why isn’t there an app? It’s not efficient to wait outside.”

To prospective Pepprs, the site is 100% free to post on, and one can register as independent or as part of an agency (since Germany's legalization in 2002, many escorts choose to work from "mega-brothel" organizations.)  Personal profiles can extend your appeal, with Pepprs describing everything about themselves from the standard stats (height, weight, hair, etc.) to what styles or scents they wear and what their interests and education involve (in case for some deeply kinky reason you get off on actually talking to them.)


It's like a whole red light district, right in your pocket.
(Image courtesy chande.co.nr.)

According to a Vice article that described the experience from the seller's perspective, Peppr is a useful, straightforward means of achieving a financial goal.  While it is difficult to gauge who may be using the app to traffic humans, the site's management does conduct brief interviews with the Peppr pros to attempt to make sure they're shedding inhibitions of their own volition.  The lack of a major middleman facilitates a new level of freedom for those who are hot enough to cash in on it, allowing more autonomy for the escorts (some of whom, though not under the duress of a pimp, may have traveled from poorer nations to Germany specifically for their lenient laws regarding love-sales.)

So don't feel bad about your financed frolicking...this is a good deal for everyone involved.  Sometimes you just don't want to deal with swiping through piles of Tinder when you could just have one really hot Peppr.

Technology to the rescue!
(Image courtesy anorak.co.uk.)



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Human-Cyborg Relations: New Google Feature Transports Your Devices To A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Alright nerds, we know you're getting excited about the new upcoming "Star Wars" movie, even if the last three were a nightmarish pile of existential terror that made you question at what point your life dispensed with the pleasantries and made your precious memories of space-based action films diffract into such a wasteful and insipid alternate hell.

Anyway, now there's a Google feature to make your stuff all "Star Wars"-y.

It's fun both for casual users or the fan that has everything...
(Image courtesy movieweb.com.)


According to techcrunch.com, the Force-ful takeover will cover a suite of Google apps, including Maps, Chromecast, Calendar, and more.  All changes will appear on versions of the apps running on iPad, Chromebook, Mac, Windows, and iOS or Android phones, except for Chrome, Gmail, and Youtube, which will only reach their full capacity on your main battle station...um, we mean computer.


"You must choose.  But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life..."
Whoops, sorry, wrong movie.
(Image courtesy fantasynscifi.com.)

Start at this website by choosing whether your path will be on the Light Side or Dark Side of the Force.  Your Google Chrome account will then be usurped by either the Jedi or the Empire, turning your email backdrop to scenes from the upcoming film, your "loading" status bar into a lightsaber, and your peg-man of Google maps into a stormtrooper if you're on the Dark Side, or a Rebellion pilot if you generally eschew fear and anger and things that lead down that path.  A TIE fighter or X-wing spacecraft will be your peg-spaceman's mode of transport when manifesting your desired directions. Sure beats that old landspeeder!

If you use the Waze app for directions, the effusive android C-3PO will be your navigator.  Along the way, you'll "find" TIE fighters, lightsabers, and stormtroopers on the map to your journey.  R2-D2 will bleep and bloop his assistance as well.  For once, these ARE the droids you're looking for.


A good protocol droid knows all the ins and outs of the bad parts of town.
(Image courtesy tinypic.com.)

Other apps like Google Calendar or Android Wear are also affected, with Calendar adding dates pertinent to "Star Wars" history.  For the really hardcore types, Google Translate will rewrite your prose in Aurabesh, the official alphabet of the "Star Wars" realm (how do you think all those different weird aliens were all able to understand each other?  Inter-species intergalactic communication standards are crucial.)

Now you can write these guys love letters!
(Image courtesy womenwriteaboutcomics.com.)

We know, much like a certain roguish smuggler pilot, you can imagine quite a bit.  So get ready for this next flight of fantasy with every element of that imagination engaged.  Like the Force, Google has surrounded and protected and bound its apps together in one simple move.  Post your choice of path with the #ChooseYourSide hashtag and see who else in the universe is your ally.  Should your path go astray, you're welcome to change sides.  More fun to follow as the release date approaches!

Enjoy, you scruffy-looking nerfherders!


We know.
(Image courtesy ew.com.)

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You Better Not Pout: Santa's Surveillance Apps

Christmas is coming, so why not leverage it to exert influence on the young ones in your life?  Promote politeness with a variety of Santa-approved "surveillance" apps...

Naughty or nice, you can use his power to keep Christmas craziness in check.
(Image courtesy pennlive.com.)

Santa's Naughty Or Nice List by Daniel Storm is a clever fingerprint-analysis-style prank that informs users if Santa has found them naughty or nice.  By pre-setting the results to either, or by choosing "Let Santa Decide", you'll have a nicer way to tell them how they've really been acting all year.  By the way, if this app only fools kids into thinking Santa's watching, you can also download the "CIA Fingerprint Scanner" prank app and convince your drunk buddy that he's actually being investigated for arson.

When the Naughty list and the Most Wanted list convene...
(Image courtesy itunes.com.)

Yet another Santalyzer is available in app form, this one utilizing the voice of the big man himself.  Santa's Naughty Or Nice List by Net Unlimited has all of the judgement delivered in the robust tones of the jolly old elf himself.  Tell the kids you have him on speakerphone, and that he has NOT been happy with you.


"Ho ho hold your finger on the glass so we get a good scan, this is a critical Naughty list update."
(Image courtesy itunes.com.)

Graphically speaking, you can't go wrong with Santa's Naughty Or Nice Scan-O-Matic by Spilled Coffee Media.  It features the standard Nice List bouncer of an app, as well as a countdown to Christmas and a "Santa Watching" light that indicates in red or green if Mr. Claus is in his office handling the business of niceness at the moment. 


Perhaps you'll be just a little bit nicer just by pretending it's real.
(Image courtesy itunes.com.)


Or, if festive looks aren't your thing, you can use this very stern and officious-looking Naughty Or Nice Scan to help maintain order anytime (well, at least until they get old enough to realize its an app.)

And if you already know for sure where you stand on the list, but want to try to have words with the big man himself, try using the Where Is Santa Lite app which updates in real-time for Claus-marks around the world,  Learn distances between Santa and yourself, plus count down to Christmas in style.  NORAD also has a similar app, which will teach kids that truly, someone is always seeing them while they're sleeping, and knows when they're awake.

No, it does not have a link to Santa's Growlr profile.
(Image courtesy itunes.com.)

Glad tidings, and may Santa have mercy on your souls.

You can't hide.  Just stop being a terrible person.
(Image courtesy blog.queensland.com.)

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Mature Content: New "Companionship" App For The Elderly

Our current senior citizens were raised in an era with typewriters and telegrams, and now, they can add another newfangled technology to their (long) lives:  a hookup app.

Go out with a bang.
(Image courtesy get-susan.com.)


According to cnbc.com, the Stitch app is for men and women over 50 years of age who are seeking romantic partners, as well as platonic friends.  Offering "companionship", the app abets friendships (language learning, mutual event-going, etc.) as well as opportunities for canoodling.

"At first I was really offended [about the association with Tinder], but then I realized that a lot of our users have found us by googling 'Tinder for seniors' because they know their kids are on it and they're wondering if there's something for them," Stitch creator Marcie Rogo explained.

In the 30's this was basically porn.
(Image courtesy stitch.net.)

Users are verified via drivers' license scans and other data, then "stitch" with other users (possibly literally, if you're into that.)  The verification deters swindlers who may be conning old ladies out of their savings.  This allows authenticated users to confidently bond with each other to help stave off the agony of the relentless march to the grave.

"Grandparents are kind of seen as annoying, or a burden or they're far away and you never get to see them. ... This is not the way you're supposed to treat people that are going through a process that is inevitable," Rogo said.  And indeed, the Stitch app (whose motto is "Because everybody needs company") has ameliorated the need for this to be a tragic end.

Gun for that great romance just one more time!

Hey girl.  Let's hit the soda fountain for a root beer float.
Two straws.
(Image courtesy cantgohomeagain.tumbler.com.)

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If You Suspects Something, Text Something: New Anti-Terror App For New Yorkers

Are you remaining vigilant in these trying times, citizen?  Well just in case you were thinking of keeping to yourself and minding your own damn business, the government doesn't want you to, and there's a new app to abet that.

Your activism needs no more than the swipe of a finger.
That should probably be worrisome, right?
(Image courtesy ny.gov.)


According to the New York Daily News, the governor of New York (Andrew Cuomo) has recently launched an initiative to crowd-source state surveillance.  In case you haven't heard about this in taxicabs, on the news, in the paper, at the DMV, at a rest stop on the road, or from the cops who just took you in for no apparent reason, the new app is called "If You See Something, Send Something."  It is yet another weapon in the fight to keep our fair cities free of terrorism.

Though Cuomo claims the app is not to be used as a substitute for, you know, actual emergencies, users are free to drop the state police intelligence division a quick photo or note depicting the possible crime against humanity that's in progress.  No hunches!  But unattended backpacks, well, that's acceptable.  Learn more about what the state considers suspicious here.


BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES!
See also: homemade clocks, ostentatious sneakers, Sikhs.
(Image courtesy northlakecollege.edu.)

"It is important to remember that all New Yorkers have a role in keeping our state safe,” said state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner John Melville.  With similar programs in place in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Louisiana, the sentiment seems to be spreading.

In New York, the app will be augmented by the hiring of 46 more "specially trained" officers who will patrol major transit hubs of NYC at an estimated cost of $3 million.  As Cuomo justified, "These new efforts are essential pieces in our fight against terrorism...We have stepped up our preparedness in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, and we continue to remain vigilant against those who seek to spread fear and violence. Despite the tremendous pain and loss that terrorist attacks around the world have caused the people of this state, the family of New York stands stronger than ever before."

How many images like this are the police going to receive,
with "info" like, "Yo, 5-0, check out these suspicious guns, LOLOLOL!
J/k....I'm so lonely, please talk to me."
(Image courtesy 123rf.com.)

Interesting choice of words with "the family of New York", considering mob boss scion Giovanni Gambino made a statement to the press earlier this week vowing that the Mafia would be offering protection from ISIS to New York City (though no word on how much THAT would cost us...probably a lot of non-seen, non-sent messages.)

But remember, according to New York State's informational webpage on the app, "It's Our Responsibility to Pay Attention and Take Action."  The app is free and operable on both iOS and Android devices.

P.S. - Here are some tips from the state's official terror-spotting hints webpage.
Ways To Improve Observation Skills: 
-Employ good listening skills
-Do not let personal feelings interfere with the incident
-Look at the entire situation before making a judgment
-Watch for non-verbal communication signs
-Use feedback to obtain and verify information report
-Observe and report - notify your local police!
-DO NOT become personally involved

They hasten to repeat:  DO NOT BECOME PERSONALLY INVOLVED.
You cause too much trouble when you try to know things or do too much.
Let the pros handle this.
(Image courtesy vosizneias.com.)

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A Win For Things Lost: New TrackR Device Hunts Down Your Stuff

Quick, where are your keys?  Phone?  Wallet?  Remote control?  Dog?  If you don't know the answer immediately, technology may now be able to help you fill in the blanks...

Did you misplace something important today?
Can't quite think of where it is?
Now, you don't have to.
(Image courtesy curiousportraits.wordpress.com.)


The new invention TrackR was designed to help you locate those little bits of life that seem to run away on you, despite their essential or oft-used nature.  While it's not quite the Internet Of Things, it's a neat and accessibly easy way to find missing items quickly, offering "effortless organization" with just a swipe of a screen.

Working via wi-fi at a range of up to 70 meters, and capable of interacting with Bluetooth trackers at up to 30 meters, the TrackR will hunt down any item that has an attendant TrackR tag or Bluetooth-enabled tracker on it.  Simply plug in the TrackR "atlas" device to any wall socket, and any item bearing the tracking tag within that room will be clearly mapped out for you on your phone.  Amazon Alexa technology even enables voice-based searching, so your hungover self can bark "sunglasses case!" and immediately find it under a pile of last night's laundry.

What about my heart, TrackR?  Can you tell me where that vanished to in this cruel world?
(Image courtesy indiegogo.com.)

The device is compatible with wall sockets around the world, as well as both Android and iOS phones.  Should you have lent out something with a TrackR tag on it, you will receive a notification when it is returned to you.  Similarly, if an important item leaves a room, you'll be the first to know.  Crowdsourced GPS makes it impossible for any TrackR item to hide for too long, even out in the wider world.  And with the "Item History" function, if your pet iguana has been climbing into random closets to eat your (or your neighbor's) shirts, you can get a detailed history of his battle maneuvers.


"And I would have gotten away with it, too,
if it weren't for your meddling TrackR technology!"
(Image courtesy tallahasseescene.com.)

TrackR will begin beta testing in January 2016, with production slated to begin next spring.  Early adopters can get some great deals on the device as well as numerous levels of TrackR atlases and tags.  Check out their indiegogo campaign and lessen the feelings of loss in your life.  Well, for objects, at least.

Unfortunately TrackR can't help if you've lost your mind.
(Image courtesy genius.com.)

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Like Uber For Slobber: New Matchmaking App Sets Up Dogs And Humans

They say that dogs are man's best friend.  So with all of the social media platforms used to make friends, why shouldn't there be one that includes canine companions?

This could be you.  Or your dog.
(Image courtesy mymodernmet.com.)


That's the premise behind a new "matchmaking" app called Bark 'N Borrow, where people with pooches can lend them out to folks in need of some puppy love.  The service's mission statement is, "Connecting dog owners with dog loving borrowers & professional dog sitters", and it caters to those who can't afford, house, or lengthily tolerate a dog, but who still like patting those sweet furry noggins.


If surfing with a frogdog wasn't on your bucket list, it is now.


Considering the fact that the dogs offered are indeed already someone's best friend, the service is careful to vet the borrowers.  It also offers insurance and 24-hour support, in case of doggie emergencies.  All extents of experience can be arranged, or as their FAQ explains, "Whether it be an afternoon walk, a day of play, a weekend, or a whole vacation period; Bark’N’Borrow aims to make sure our pets are always given the most amount of love and care."


Love and care in exchange for the ultimate pug-hug?
Good deal.
(Image courtesy thedodo.com.)

Bark 'N Borrow also offers advertising and placement services for professional dog walkers, making the app a well-rounded community of canine caretakers.  The app also connects people with pups who need more socializing (for the dogs, that is), so that doggie playdates can be arranged. 


Bros before throws.
(Image courtesy failpix.info.)
 
Best of all, for those seeking to borrow or lend, the service is completely free.  Simply set up a profile - much like other online matchmaking services, you include a photo, personal info, reasons for seeking a (puppy) pal, and traits you're looking for (in the dog) - and the connections can commence.

You can download Bark 'N Borrow free for iOS.   Who knows?  You may end up learning something cool from your new furry friend.


Want to pick up some sick skateboard skills?  
Hang out with Otto, he's a world record holder!
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A Wonder For Down Under: New Kegel Exerciser / Videogame App (Seriously)

Ladies, we know that "playing with yourself" is not the most delicate way to describe an aspect of maintaining healthy sexual function, but in this case, it's the literal truth...

We also know it's uncouth to steal other publications' headline imagery,
but the Britons really nailed this one.
(Image courtesy www.mirror.co.uk.)


According to Vice magazine, there is a new combination video game / Kegel exercise routine that makes strengthening your pelvic floor fun!  It's called the Elvie and it hails itself as "your most personal trainer."  Oh boy.

The Elvie is a small silicone device that, when inserted into the vagina, connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone app that leads you through a series of exercises that double as video games.  Your internal muscles, along with the Elvie, function as the controller.  And we'd thought the Nintendo Power Glove was cool!


Surprisingly, this was never officially made into an intimate exercise aid.
(Image courtesy en.wikipedia.org.)

The exercises are brief (around 5 minutes) and completely discreet, so you can get your core-gasmic skills fired up basically anywhere.  Yes, theoretically you could do this right in the middle of the office, with no one the wiser that you're getting paid to power-up your pussy.

"Yep, totally working on those quarterly reports, boss!  Coming along great!  Hnnnng."
(Image courtesy lenilanne.com.)

Promising "better core strength, control, and yes, even better sex", the Elvie functions to improve a collection of muscles that are difficult to see, and thus easy to neglect.  This isn't just a kinky con, there are actual benefits of Kegel exercises, including aiding in back pain and pregnancy recovery.  As the Elvie website's FAQ states:

"Without regular exercise, pelvic floor muscles are likely to cause more than half of all women bladder, sex or prolapse problems. Physical activities and life events, like impact sports, pregnancy, and giving birth weaken these muscles. When done correctly, simple exercise develops muscle tone and maintains strength."

It's not a work-out, it's a work-IN.
(Image courtesy netdoctor.co.uk.)

For competitive chicks, the Elvie app allows you to  break records of Kegel kickassery in their Speed and Pulse challenges.  Other exercises include LVs (levator scores) and lifts.  By clenching and lifting the Elvie with your levator muscles (that's the scientific term for your pelvic floor), you manipulate a ball across the game screen, attempting to keep it buoyant or trying to hit targets.  It's not nearly as arduous as regular exercise, and could end up becoming your second favorite thing to do down there.


It's not "Minecraft", but it'll craft your mine.  Consider it your "Call Of Duty",
just make sure it doesn't "Fallout."  Hooray for video games!
(Image courtesy raunaqbo.se.)

Created by an Oxford-educated women's health advocate and integrating technology from the awareables champions at Jawbone, Elvie has an excellent pedigree.  It also recently won the "Best R&D Design" award at the Design Museum in London.  So, yeah, your pussy is in good hands, as it were.

Elvie retails for $199 and is compatible with iPhone and Android operating systems.  And it might become very compatible with you...


"Hnnng!"   -"Hnnng?"  "...Hnnng."
(Image courtesy avelineclark.com.)

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Cultivate This: New Indoor Garden "The Grove" Gives You A Mini Ecosystem

Want a garden, but you're stuck in a postmodern (or pre-modern) cube/tomb of an apartment with no sunlight and certainly no arable land?  Worry not, for a new invention called The Grove can bring you a relative abundance of plant life, all in the comfort of your own home...

If you traded all your bookshelves for e-reading, here's your perfect futuristic home furnishing.
(Image courtesy treehugger.com.)



According to treehugger.com, The Grove is a "smart" garden that is just large enough to fit in your living room and still look at home.  The triple-layered Grove has full-spectrum LED lights to impersonate sunshine, coaxing small plants such as greens, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs from the soil in the taller top layer.



Yes, you don't have to ask, obviously weed will grow in it, too.
(Image courtesy kickstarter.com.)

The middle layer is designed to abet the sprouting of seedlings, which would make the first strides for larger plants or maintain a good environment for short crops like wheatgrass or super-dwarf wheat, like NASA wants to grow on long space missions.  Think of it as one small step towards your future life on Mars.

Best of all is the bottom layer:  a 25-gallon fish tank.  The fish are integral to the "aquaponic" growing process, as their waste (feces and ammonia) produces nitrates that help to fertilize the plants.  The plants, in turn, keep the water clean from their usage of the wastes.  The fish are happy, the plants are happy, and your belly will probably be happy (The Grove can grow the food for you, but unless you're really into salad or robot chefs, you still have to cook it yourself.)


Grow your own sushi AND salad!
(Image courtesy cnbc.com.)

The "smart" part of The Grove isn't just the ecological excellence - the entire garden can be controlled via your phone.  Enter which plants you've decided to nurture into the attendant app, and it automatically configures the necessary lighting specifications.  It gives updates on harvesting, fish tank needs, and other elements of the system.  So even if you don't have a green thumb, all you have to have is a finger for tapping the app to make sure everything's growing well.

It's like one of those Facebook games where you farm...except for real.
(Image courtesy kickstarter.com.)

Once up and running, The Grove could provide a constant supply of greens, with the creators reporting that "...a user can expect to harvest the equivalent of two to three bags of salad greens every week or eight to 10 heads of lettuce every 20 days."  We're not sure what that translates to for fruits or cannabis, but give it a try!  With results appearing 50-75% faster than an outdoor garden, at 50% greater density (2 times more productive per square foot than outdoor gardening), you'll have a feast  - or something to give you the munchies - in no time!

The Grove is currently on Kickstarter at an early-bird price of $2,700, though it may eventually retail for around $4,500.  Yes, it's pricy, but it's not bad, for a self-sustaining and self-maintaining food source that could live in your kitchen!  If you like keeping things local, and know that freshness isn't just a descriptor for cool sneakers, get into the groove of The Grove.

Hot peppers ALL DAY.  All yours.
(Image courtesy cayennediane.com.)

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Freedom For Threesomes: New App Finds Hookups à Trois

Everyone's heard of (or been involved in) an online romance that, despite the impersonal initial interface, works out for the best. Now, you can use an app to add to such notions of romance...plus a little extra...

Get extra cozy this winter.
(Image courtesy genius.com.)

According to the New York Daily News, the 3nder app is designed to add that extra special something to your love life. Namely, another person. 3nder, pronounced "Thrinder" (to rhyme with that other dating app) openly solicits “kinky, curious and open-minded singles and couples” for trysts.

Users can enjoy all of the aspects of conventional online dating, such as exchanging photos, seeking matches, and communicating via messages, although thanks to 3nder, all of these elements are available to use as a group. California and New York are currently the most popular markets for 3nder adventurers in America.

They've been getting a lot of word-of-mouth, specifically, "Mmmm."
(Image courtesy genius.com.)

The app launched last year and has recently secured a donation of $500,000 from two anonymous investors. The investment was made due to 3nder reaching nearly a million downloads and sporting an increasingly stylish usability, according to Tech City News.

Best of all, it's for everyone. Genders and sexualities of all sorts are accepted in the 3nder community. As founder Dimo Trifonov explains, "Consensual non-monogamy for singles and couples is becoming more prevalent, especially among young people. We are building the first safe environment for open minded people where they can meet likeminded partners, and the response has been fantastic. We are also gender-blind and orientation-blind, so everyone is welcome.”

So if you're feeling frisky and need a fresh partner or two, sign on to 3nder and hit the trifecta. 3nder is available for iOS and, via their website, an Android waiting list is also available.  And judging by the amount of interesting in tripling up, the wait won't be long...

3nder is a much classier way of finding a threesome than skeevy "wanted" websites,
 or presenting your significant other to the bartender and saying, "Yeah?  Yeaaaaah?"
(Image courtesy mgoldstein.co.uk.)

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iTinerant iSores: New App Helps New Yorkers Dodge "Homeless Hotspots"

It's no secret that our technology has surpassed our humanity.  Now, a new aspect of technology will help you literally pass right on by the elements of humanity that you'd rather not see...

Not exactly the best kind of Victoria's Secret model.
(Image courtesy nypost.com.)

As the problem of homeless transients escalates in New York City, one developer has created away to dodge their frequent and sometimes violent harangues for change.  According to the New York Post, data engineer David Fox has invented the Map The Homeless app to make citizens aware of where the less-fortunate may try to accost them.

Fox invented the app after growing fed up with seeing aggressive panhandlers and wayward urination creep all over the city.  He created the "really simple" solution in app form, and made it compatible for both Android and iOS devices.

Users, including the NYPD, can add photos of the homeless to an in-app map so that the transients can be avoided, or in some cases, aided.  “I want to help [city officials] be able to find these people and keep them off the streets,” Fox said.

Panhandling and pee need not be worries of your commute any longer.
(Image courtesy observer.com.)

Hopefully the accrued data will help users navigate around "homeless hot spots" that could pose a danger.  Even if the bums aren't dangerous, their categorization can help give them a modicum of visibility, which could contribute to their overall welfare.  

“Just because they are causing no harm it doesn’t mean we should just leave them alone and pretend they don’t exist,” Fox told The New York Observer. “A lot of the people who make the “leave them alone” argument are the first who get very, very upset when a homeless person is found in serious condition or even dead because they were left to sleep outside on a freezing winter day while everyone who passed by looked the other way.”

Map The Homeless is available for free download.   


Unfortunately, there is not currently a way to avoid the homeless on subway cars,
though the smell generally serves as a good warning.
(Image courtesy theshortshow.com.)

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Surrealism From A Search Engine: Google's "Deep Dream" System Now An App

If you like perusing weird things on the internet, you may have recently seen that Google's artificial neural networks have been allowed to run rampant and "dream" up combinations of images.  These creepy/cool composites are now available for anyone, if you can handle the ride...

Androids may dream of electric sheep, but Google dreams of art gone awry...
(Image courtesy collegehumor.com.)



The "daydream" images from the networks are as hallucinatory as anything a human can trip out to, and now, they can be abetted via the Dreamscope app.  According to Gizmodo, it features 19 of the filters that the Google-brain weirds out with.  It requires no coding expertise to use, but should be considered unsafe for work...or possibly sanity.


See, Google dreams of Jen Lawrence, same as you do...DEAR GOD, WAIT, WHAT?
(Image courtesy youtube.com.)

Gizmodo's Maddie Stone explained, "The 'Deep Dream' system essentially feeds an image through a layer of artificial neurons, asking an AI to enhance and build on certain features, such as edges. Over time, pictures can become so distorted that they morph into something entirely different, or just a bunch of colorful, random noise."

Users need only upload a photo and choose a drug...um, filter.  And you thought your Instagram sepia-tone made images eerie.  Just wait until you run the family Christmas photos through Google's dream-demons...

Still think that looking at animal pics on the internet is fun and cute?
(Image courtesy metro.co.uk.)

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Hear The World: Listen To Top Tracks From Different Countries With "Music Globe 3D" App

Are you a music fan that likes branching out beyond not just genres, but national interests?  Now, with the help of a new app, you can travel the world via your ears...

You can still feel like a rockstar on tour, even if you're neither of those things.
(Image courtesy blog.discmakers.com.) 


Thanks to a new app from Music Paradise, you can check out international musical styles, novelties, and popular genres, all by simply clicking on a map.  Music Paradise's Music Globe 3D app enables you to watch different nations' music charts, to see who is trending in real-time.

With a customizable globe and any number of possible new sonic discoveries awaiting, audiophiles may find this an interesting change from just poring over the deep cuts of obscure bands from known genres.  You can now pore over popular cuts from artists in obscure countries!

These guys could be rocking out your new favorite jam, right now!
(Image courtesy bbc.co.uk.)

Music Paradise also offers a Mixtape app that allows you to change tempos, switch keys, and add sound effects to your favorite tracks.  It's a simple way to freshen up old tunes that might have started sounding stale, or to innovate with new inspirations (possibly gleaned from your new aural travels.)

An array of other audiophilic apps are also available from Music Paradise (Rhodes Keyboard?!  Awesome!)  Because when a tune gets stuck in your head, sometimes you have no choice but to jam.


And if you run out of Earthly sounds, you can go listen to some spacey tracks from NASA.



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Fetching Fido: Canine Facial Recognition App Helps Find Lost Dogs

Not all facial recognition systems are for spying on you, or for ratting you out when you don't go to church.  Sometimes, just sometimes, the system can be of use.  Particularly, when it doesn't focus on people...

"Don't worry, ma'am.  We'll find him.  If not by sniff, then the internet."
(Image courtesy comicvine.com.)


According to the Minnesota Star Tribune, the Animal Humane Society of the Twin Cities have been putting a twist on the conventional "Missing Dog" posters.   By uploading images of rescued dogs to the Finding Rover app, facial recognition technology can access a doggie database to help Rover come back over.



"What do you mean I'm on an NSA database too?  Eating shoes is legal in this state!"
(Image courtesy youtube.com.)


Also available in website form at findingrover.com,  the program helps to reunite pet owners with ducked-out dogs who may not have a collar or a microchip (or were found by people unable to scan a microchip.)  Owners can upload Fido's photos along with their zip code to help connect with whoever's back yard he ended digging up this time.  The search radius extends to over 2,000 miles.



Romantic dogs can stare longingly at the program, waiting to see if their lost love will ever return.
Pugs will always look that sad anyway, though.
(Image courtesy cutehomepets.com.)


A special "bark button" triggers the sound of a yelping puppy, so you can be sure to get a shot of Spot that encompasses all of his identifying features - all 125 of them that the program categorizes.  Finding Rover is thought to be 98% accurate for identification.



Just don't let them get away with trying to obscure their identity in the photo.
(Image courtesy geekologie.com.)


“The Animal Humane Society here will send us photos of all their animals on an hourly basis,” inventor John Polimeno said. ”So now when someone loses their pet, instead of having to drive to every shelter and walk every kennel, now all you do is search Finding Rover.”



Sorry, but obligatory.
(Image courtesy tamlinhouse.wikidot.com.)

So far, in the a year and a half that the app has been live, some 620 dogs have been reunited with their humans.  100,000 users in America and Australia have joined the community.



Yay, he was found safe!
And he never even had to resort to cage fighting to support himself on his own!
(Image courtesy pressdemocrat.com.)


Oh, and don't worry, stereotypical users of the internet...the cat version will be out in August.



Although cats are going to do whatever they want, regardless if you drag them back home.
(Image courtesy helendipity.wordpress.com.)



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Rad Habits: New App To Aid Small-Scale Scheduling For Self-Improvement


Do you need to be reminded/guilt-tripped into maintaining healthy habits, but don't want to have to ask your friends and loved ones to publicly shame you?  No worries...a new app can keep you on task, and to the rest of the world you'll actually appear to have motivation.


The sticky notes aren't enough to save your slackadaisical self, and you know it.
(Image courtesy blog.contagiouscompanies.com.)



Productive, a new app for iOS, is like a little slice of your conscience calling (or, for those of you who prefer to do without the conscience connection, the app acts like a pleasant little secretary of shit you should be doing.)


Simple enough, right?  Now stick to it.
(Image courtesy productiveapp.io.)






The premise is simple - the tough part is following through.  Users schedule different tasks that they want to achieve, indicating what time  of the day would be most amenable to this striving for success.  Activities like meditating, running, stretching, and more are readily reminded by the day, week, or month, with alarms going off as often as you want to keep you aware of how much better you need to be doing, right now.


Don't act like this isn't at least a little resonant.
(Image courtesy linkedin.com.)

As their presskit states, "Productive has all the tools you need to build a routine of positive, life-changing habits."  The "routine" part is charted when you complete your desired tasks: "Perfect Days" turn green on your calendar when all of your activities have been accomplished for the day.  Your current streak of "Perfect Days" is prominently presented, so if you don't want to disappoint your phone, you'd better go for a stroll.


We mean the future self that isn't dead yet.
(Image courtesy thatswildwithkiesha.wordpress.com.)

Each activity also has a "Total Times Done" chart, as well as the "Current Streak" of how long you've been able to cling to some small shard of sanity in a repetitive but reliable form.  The "Best Streak" feature charts your all-time greatest lack of procrastinating, which is important to remember for physically-augmentative activities like running, and probably pretty damn crucial for other tasks ("walking the dog" seems like one that you should be acing, if you're not completely awful.)


To be fair, the dog might be unmotivated, too.
(Image courtesy youtube.com.)

When faced with a need (or hope) to enact noticeable improvements, some of us are motivated simply by the desire to be better people.  Some of us are motivated only by abuse.  Some of us just need the cold, calculating logistics of a computer program to explain exactly where and how often you make your horrid, human-like mistakes.  If you fall into the latter category and need a bit of bullying by the byte, check out Productivity.  Here's to a long streak of "Perfect Days."


"You just keep me hanging on.  You just keep me hanging on.
You're going to reap just what you sow.  You're going to reap just what you sow."
 -Lou Reed, 'Perfect Day'
(Image courtesy productiveapp.io.)

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Reznor Helms New Beats 1 Radio Launch; Brings Listeners Closer To God

And you can have it all.  His empire of...well, a lot more than dirt.  Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor wants to help music fans find new artists to aurally appreciate, as well as enjoy classics, with the new Beats 1 radio program by Apple...

Despite previous claims, his intent is neither to let you down, nor to make you hurt.
(Image courtesy knowyourmobile.com.)

According to Rolling Stone, Reznor claimed that other streaming music services left him "feeling lacking", but that he aspired to create a streaming music environment similar to "when radio was good – which maybe it never was – but in my mind, there was a time when it seemed better than it currently is."

Fair enough.  Reznor isn't just lending his celebrity to this initiative - he's also offering his artistry.

  "When the service goes live, the first thing I've put up is something I couldn't have done or wouldn't have done anywhere else, which is the entire album The Fragile as an instrumental-outtakes compilation that plays like a regular album but sounds very different without my voice in the way. And there's different arrangements to certain songs and oddly that makes for a different, complementary music experience. So that'll be there as soon as you download the app, you'll see that in, on my Connect page."


That's the face we made when we read about the new Trent tracks.
(Image courtesy loudwire.com.)

Other artists who will broadcast their own radio spots over the channel include Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme, Elton John and Dr. Dre.  These are just a few of the notable minds contributing to Beats 1's idea of personally "curating" the music to best suit fans' interests.  As Reznor explains,

"That aspect of treating music like art is important. And we've tried to do that everywhere that you come across music in Apple Music. When you listen to a radio station here, every song has been chosen by somebody."

Sort of like this, but on your phone.
(Image courtesy rpmlifeinanalog.com.)

This concept, rather than a reliance solely on algorithms, could help navigate fans through a vast library of options to treasurable new tunes.  "Anything that makes music more important to people is worth it," Reznor says.  

"What could beat having access to all the music in the world delivered easily to you and elegantly in a way that inspires discovery?"


Apple Music launches Beats Radio 1 today, as well as the updated iOS 8.4.  Beats Radio 1 is free to all users with an Apple ID.  It's the perfect drug.


Maybe he's reflecting your own madness back onto you until you shriek at the void,
or maybe he's just promoting an immersive new music service.
Maybe both.  We'll see.
(Image courtesy appleinsider.com.)

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Know Your Joe: New App For Coffee Connoisseurs

In today's busy, bustling world, few things fuel you faster than a nice cup (or carafe) of coffee.  Iced, spiced, black, blonde, it doesn't matter as long as it does the job.  Now, there's a new app to help you learn more about the world's greatest caffeinated creation...

This may be true, but you can still do a damned decent home-brew...
(Image courtesy funnysigns.net.)




New Technologies' Advanced Coffee Guide has been created to offer you a coffee calculator (to help perfect the precise pot for your needs), coffee recipe ideas, the backstory of the beans, and more.  While it doesn't have a trigger to remotely alert your machine to start a'brewin (can someone invent that, BTW?), it does offer you lots of facts and ideas that would be great to discuss over...well, perhaps a cup of coffee?

Yay!
(Image courtesy funnfun.in.)

The "history and interesting facts" of coffee can be examined, with international and ancient takes on the brew of the gods.  For instance, did you know that one origin story of coffee involves the Yemenite Sufi mystic, Ghothal Akbar Nooruddin Abul al-Asan al-Shahili, who noticed that the birds in Ethiopia were pretty wired, and enjoyed the same effects himself after eating the same beans that the birds did?  That's pretty cool.  Nothing like a little mysticism with your morning joe.

It is kind of godlike in the powers it bestows.
(Image courtesy funnytimes.com.)


The coffee calculator gives you exacting measurements for the quantity needed to produce a perfect espresso, cappuccino, Americano, or even more exotic varietals of the roasted rush.  You too can be as capable a barista as those fancy tattooed kids at that hip little spot downtown, and you didn't even need to waste tens of thousands of dollars on a philosophy or gender studies degree.

Also, those java bills add up.  Beat the system, brew your own!
(Image courtesy twentytwowords.com.)

For recipes, you can learn ways to finagle your fix into all manner of interesting ingestables.  Information on coffee types, characteristics, and even major companies can add to you personalizing your palate instead of just huffing down some Dunks (although, to be fair, that definitely works too.)

So fire up your grinder, warm up the water, steady the steam spouts and get your caffiending self even more informed and inspired about this delightful daily ritual.  YOU be the star, not Starbucks!


You're better than this.
(Image courtesy huffingtonpost.com.)


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Want A Better Future? This Break-Up App Might Help...

When Paul Simon wrote his classic song, "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" back in 1975, smartphones had yet to be invented.  However, had he written it recently, he could have included a line to the effect of, "Just tap on the app, Chap..." as one of the means of easily escaping a failed romance...


Granted, breakups have been brutal throughout all of recorded history...
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)




According to live105.cbslocal.com, the cowards and the careless of the dating world can now dispose of their woes thanks to a new app.   For everyone who goes overboard on dating apps and now needs to hit "delete" on humans in real life, the Binder app is willing to send a "Dear John" or "Dear Jane" letter, without you even having to discuss your disgust with your mismatched mate.


"Bin" as in slang for "waste bin."  Like, where their feelings will be after this.
(Image courtesy play.google.com.)

All Binder requires is your prospective ex's name, gender, and phone number, and your relationship is already gone like the Eagles song.  Well, actually, the message IS partially delivered in song, namely in the form of a pre-recorded Scottish man intoning a heartfelt remembrance of the good times:  “Your {lover} doesn’t love you anymore, {s}he hates your face, {s}he thinks you’re a bore,” he sings. “In fact he is sick in his mouth whenever he sees you around.”

Binder's motto, "It's time they got the message", really says it all.  You can choose to add excuses, ranging in brutality from "pretty mean" to "if you said that to my face, your face would no longer exist."


Maybe it's just better to walk out the back, Jack.
(Image courtesy cbslive105.wordpress.blogs.com.)


An option to Tweet or Facebook the decision adds to the social horror you can inflict on a particularly unpleasant partner.  Because what good is a shaming if the news can't be spread?

Binder is available for Android and iOS downloads via their website.  As Simon said, "There's no need to be coy, Roy"...but you might want to watch your back for a bit if you throw this ice-bucket of an app at your former flame.



But when you finally do leave your tech toys for another device, let them down easy.
They were so good to you, for so long.
(Image courtesy iphonelife.com.)

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Screen Cuisine: New App To Count Calories Via Food Photos

If you're like most of the cyber-connected world, chances are that you've photographed and shared an image of some interesting food at one point or another.  Don't worry, it's normal, especially when you encounter a turducken in the wild.  Now, a new app may be able to not only show off your culinary crusades, but also inform you of just how many calories that triple-decker bacon cake contains...

"According to Im2Calories, you should probably only eat the letter 'A' today."  -your phone, soon.
(Image courtesy negharfonooni.com.)



According to mashable.com, the ever-ingenious Google is working on an app that can assess images for the caloric content contained.  The project, which was introduced at Boston's Rework Deep Learning Summit last week, is called "Im2Calories."

As stated in a report by Popular Science, the app "marries visual analysis — in this case, determining the depth of each pixel in an image — with pattern recognition" to achieve its weight-watching wonders.  The algorithms are likely to improve over time, using "deep learning" AI to develop more accuracy in the calorie counting.


No word on if Im2Calories will have "trainer" mode to demand that you eat vegetables.
(Image courtesy splendidtable.com.)

Until the algorithms are more exact, the Im2Calories idea is just just an experiment, albeit one with patents attached.  The data gleaned from users of the app could enable "population-level" feedback on dietary habits, which researchers could then analyze by various demographic factors to determine trends and assess public health issues.

So next time you take a picture of a perfect pie, or a resplendent rack of ribs, just remember that soon enough, technology might come along to fat-shame you.  However, considering that a third of America is already obese, that tech might show up just in time to turn some lives around.


Because if you don't track the snacks, you can't attack the snacks.
 Im2Calories could raise awareness of over-fattening foods everywhere.
(Image courtesy shutterstock.com.)

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Way To Go: New Apple Maps Launch To Include Public Transit, Indoor Maps & More Flyovers

It's a feature that has benefited humanity tremendously since its inception, and now, it's even more comprehensive.  Apple Maps is upgrading their app to include subways, trains, new flyover views, and even robotically-determined floorplans inside of buildings.

Plot your commute or view your dream vacation, all in the palm of your hand.
(Image courtesy technewstoday.com.)


According to the Daily Mail UK, the Maps app will be updated for iOS 9, which will launch in San Francisco next month.  Included in the revamp will be bus, train, and subway navigation abilities, which are critical to residents and visitors alike in major cities.

Because for some of us, getting home is an adventure.
(Image courtesy 9to5mac.com.)


A patent has also been filed by Apple to develop a "Commute Assistant" for real-time travel information.  This is also thought to be debuting with the launch of iOS 9.  Having recently absorbed the HopStop, Locationary and Embark travel-app firms, Apple's information spectrum will be boosted considerably.

The new Maps app will not only include travel times, routes, and stops for the various forms of public transport that it displays, but will also notify users of possible route changes and delays.  A constantly-informed "dynamic focus table" will assure users of the quickest possible method to their destination.


Never be foiled by crappy paper updates in the subways again!
(Image courtesy amny.com.)

Apple has also released autonomous robots with iBeacon sensors to do their bidding in buildings, mapping out interior spaces for even more thorough travel navigation.  The robots, which are similar in size to iRobot’s Roomba vacuum cleaners, are like the inside version of the autonomous cars that provide street-mapping services.

Though they can't provide routes for your hang-glider, wingsuit, or jetpack yet, Apple also boasts an impressive library of city flyovers.  Today, several more flyovers were released, including numerous major U.S. cities, Edinburgh, Scotland; Linz, Austria; Venice, Italy; Cáceres, Spain; Rennes, France; Guadalajara, Mexico and Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Venice:  now for floating AND flying!
(Image courtesy applegazette.com.)

"Flyover in Apple Maps lets you see select major metro areas from the air with photo-realistic, interactive 3D views," the company explains.  "You can explore cities in high resolution as you zoom, pan, tilt, and rotate around the city and its landmarks."  So even if you can't afford to actually be IN the country, you can still do a fun flyby-version of travelling there!

And you're lucky enough to be roaming around on the ground, now you'll know where, when, and how to go!

For those bound by the ground, fresh flybys are always fun.
(Image courtesy 9to5mac.com.)

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Spy vs. mSpy: Tracking-App Company Reveals Blackmail Attempt

With so many adults willing to give up their privacy in the name of security, it's no surprise that they'd levy that same treatment (with the same unwarranted sneakiness) onto their own children.  Amusingly enough, one firm that provides such products has now been hit by blackmailers.

Stalk your kids while sipping your coffee!  Except sometimes, it's not so simple...
(Image courtesy whiterosereader.org.)




According to the BBC, the mSpy company, which specializes in providing software for parents to track their children's electronic lives, had allegedly been the target of a major online security breach.  Security expert Brian Krebs had been anonymously alerted to a massive cache of mSpy data being hosted on the Tor "darknet" network, and upon further investigation, he was shocked at what he found.

"There is a crazy amount of personal and sensitive data in this cache, including photos, calendar data, corporate email threads, and very private conversations," Krebs said.


Constantly, crazily pertinent.
(Image courtesy www.youcantwatchme.com.)

However, the cache was soon deleted, making the verification of its contents impossible.

The mSpy app functions as a means for everday snoops to read others' messages, listen in on conversations, and track movements.  Intended for parents who are anxious to keep tabs on their children, the app's abilities also make it a favorite for those who'd want to keep an extra eye on scurrilous employees or sneaky spouses.  


This intricately-detailed diagram unlocks the mysteries of iffy-ethical mSpy use.
(Image courtesy www.mmspyreviews.com.)

Though the app is intended only to be placed on phones or mobile devices of those who are aware they are being monitored, this might not always be the case.

While security experts claim that data-dumps of big companies' information are "relatively frequent" from those seeking to exploit blackmail-enabling material, often the data is falsified.  However, if it is indeed authentic, there's a good chance that more than a few of the spy subjects were unaware of their surveilled state.  

mSpy's data alone comprised (and could have compromised) some 400,000 customers.  So who's the more shady, the for-hire spies or the loot-seeking snoops who reveal them?


By the way, if your kid wants to find porn on the internet,
all the mSpys in the world aren't going to help.
(Image courtesy www.synthese-factory.com.)


 
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Who The {Redacted} Thinks This Is A Good Idea? New App Censors "Inappropriate" Literature

It may have fallen somewhat by the wayside as the smut-and-gore smorgasbord of the internet has risen to prominence for entertainment, but those who read enough literature know the truth:  books get fucking dirty.  We're not talking the suburban-submission swill of the "Fifty Shades..." fuddy-duddies, oh no.  There is stuff out there - published from antiquity to this afternoon - that is straight-up scorch-smut, enough to make you drop your jaws, books, and pants all at the same time.

So of course, some special snowflake wants to take that away from you.

(Image courtesy www.downtrend.com.)



According to npr.com, a new e-reader app called "Clean Reader" was invented by two parents in Idaho, who apparently thought they were keeping children and proper adults safe by e-editing out all of the profanity in books their kid got ahold of.


"The naughty words are eating my brain!
THEY'RE EATING MY CHRISTFUCKING BRAIN!!!"
(Image courtesy www.wisegeek.org.)


Jared and Kirsten Maughan, the Blackhawk-helicopter-caliber parents in question, claim their daughter was offended by material in a class-assigned book. They then sought out an app to replace the vulgarities with something a little more vanilla.  Finding that none existed, they created Clean Reader.

Because discipline is best wrought in ever-escalating strata of strictness, the app features three levels of sanitation:  "Clean", "Cleaner", and "Squeaky Clean."  The app also sold unedited e-books and took a cut of the profits, because you know, that's a wicked fucking clean business plan.



SQUEAKY FLIPPIN' CLEAN, YOU SILLY-BILLIES.
(Image courtesy www.neuroticsingles.com.)

"Chocolat" author Joanne Harris decried the dirt-removal, saying, "Well, we've been down this road before. We should know where it leads by now. It starts with blanking out a few words. It goes on to drape table legs and stick fig leaves on to statues. It progresses to denouncing gay or Jewish artists as 'degenerate'. It ends with burning libraries and erasing whole civilizations from history."  Perhaps a bit of a slippery-slope argument, except that history has repeatedly seen enough book (and full library) burnings to make the idea resonate with readers.

Hey, human figure, you too!  Stop being beautifully rendered in your natural state, and stuff!
(Image courtesy www.theartofed.com.)

The Maughans liken their clean-freak creation to a customer who desires substitutions in their meal at a restaurant.  As though paying for any form of art means you get to control it.  What the Maughans neglected to consider was that this is a mass-market of material that is specifically to be consumed in a certain form, like beer versus isopropyl alcohol.  It's not a commission that they've paid to the authors to create a special series of sanitized works just for them.

After backlash from a host of authors and other fans of naughtiness, the bookstore section of the app has been removed.  Further changes are also in store.  About fucking time.


Enough said.
(Image courtesy www.englishmajorhumor.com.)

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Rock The Stocks: New App Enables Commission-Free Stock Trading

Want to start making money in the stock market, but aren't sure where or how to start?  Thanks to a new app, now you can dabble in trading for free...

Be a cool stockbroker like these guys...except possibly in your pajamas.
(Image courtesy youtube.com.)



According to medium.com, the RobinHood app allows easy stock trading from one's smartphone, for $0 trade commission fees.  While other online traders could charge rates as high as $65 to make stock trades due to location or other circumstances, the RobinHood app never charges users for the exchange.

Because of its ease of use and affordability, the app is aimed at the millennial market (the developers, Baiju Prafulkumar Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev, are millennials themselves.)  The ease of the interface is designed specifically rookies who are looking to learn more about investing while starting small.

From small street to Wall Street...greed IS good.  Get your cash and pay nothing back.
(Image courtesy taiyoukouasouka.com.)

In-app notifications alert you of the latest purchase times available for desired stocks, as well as other important shareholder information (such as dividends and high-low reminders.)  To date since their inception in 2013, $500 million in transactions has been exchanged, with users saving some $12 million in commission fees.

RobinHood is available for iOS and will soon debut in Android.  Happy stock hunting!

This is you, making money anywhere.  Start tapping and trading today!
(Image courtesy www.shutterstock.com.)

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Weed On Wheels: New Cannabis Delivery App "The Seamless Of Marijuana"

Feeling lazy?  Was it because you smoked a bunch of weed?   Was it because you smoked ALL of your weed?  Don't worry...if you happen to live in California, you don't even need to get off that sweet, comfy couch to get more...


Green on the scene!
(Image courtesy medicalmarijuanablog.com.)



According to mjnewsnetwork.com, a new startup by entrepreneur Paul Warshaw aims to be the "Seamless of marijuana."  The service, called GreenRush, delivers cannabis to those too incapacitated...for whatever reason...to make it to their nearest dispensary.

The system is simple:  go to the website, browse dispensaries, select your specific strain (or edibles), and set a delivery time.  In under an hour, your tree-treats are on your porch and ready to torch (or munch.)

"This must be the right house...the pizza guy just pulled up behind me."
(Image courtesy gizmodo.com.)

“The overall process of getting cannabis was very onerous, with everything from finding a dispensary to getting in the car and driving there to waiting in line and filling out paperwork,” Warshaw explained. “We’re providing patients with as many options as we can.”

Mmm...options.
(Image courtesy tokeofthetown.com.)

Those options only require a brief one-time verification process that you are a medical marijuana patient, some sort of internet-enabled device, and your capability to remain lucid (and relatively un-paranoid) when the dealer...sorry, deliveryman...shows up.  Up to 56 grams (two ounces) of cannabis flower can be delivered at a time.

Their iOS app launched this week, man.  Fire it up!

Keep dreaming, rest of America.
(Image courtesy news.vice.com.)

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Police Tape: New App Records Cops Gone Wild; Instantly Submits Clips To ACLU

As the tensions regarding civilian/police interactions heat up faster than the nice weather, it's good to know there are ways of keeping your cool.  One such method is a new app from the ACLU, designed to document and immediately report unethical police action...

Fire at will.
(Image courtesy 10news.com.)



According to bgr.com, the new app is called Mobile Justice California, and it has been officially developed and endorsed by the American Civil Liberties Union.  While using the app's "Record" feature, after recording video of police engaging in any form of inappropriate skullduggery, the clips are sent directly to the ACLU.  If you need to be discreet about your divulging, reports sans video can easily be made via text in the "Report" feature.  But the overall idea reaches much further than that.

A checklist of information regarding the time, location, and other details of the incident is provided in the app.  Actions of both parties (the cop and the civilian) are documented, so if your situation seems extremely dire, steps can be taken to get you help as soon as possible.

"Well, the video looks kind of cool, but I think we're in trouble here...please send help?"
(Image courtesy laweekly.com.)

All submissions are anonymous by default, but have the option to include name, phone number, and email if you want the ACLU to follow up on your case directly.

Another interesting feature is a "Witness" function that indicates if others in your party / riot / peaceful pepper-spray-in are recording nearby, so that you may aid them in documenting atrocities.  This could possibly be of tremendous use if the actions involved later go to trial and numerous witnesses are needed.

And it wouldn't do justice to the ACLU if the app didn't come with an onboard library of "Know Your Rights"-type material regarding official protocol for what you're allowed to do on marches, in schools, in public buildings, etc.  Educate better, smash the state better.

Like the Clash said, "know your rights."
(Image courtesy appszoom.com.)

Mobile Justice California is available for iOS and Android, and will hopefully soon entail users from many other states (Missouri and Oregon also have similar Mobile Justice apps.)  Hold your public servants accountable...American police have killed more people in March of this year than the U.K. police killed all of last century.  Make them know that cameras can shoot back with just as damning results.

(Image courtesy thenation.com.)

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Feline Groovy: Play Out Your "Crazy Cat Person" Fantasy Via This New App

Are you too popular?  Are you more interesting than the average person, and suffer no lack of friends due to this?  Do you often find yourself graced with many socially-engaging options and fun things to enrich your life?  And do you hate the hell out of all of that?  Never fear...now, you can become a crazy cat person, at least in the realm of apps...

Questioning your sanity has never been so adorable!
(Image courtesy notarybatonrouge.info.)




Thanks to the new Japanese app Neko Atsume, you can now cultivate a collection of cats on your smartphone, where they smell less but are there for you all the more.  According to policygenius.com, the app, which is written entirely in Japanese and translates as "collecting cats", gifts you with the joy of animal ownership, yet none of the toxoplasma gondii.


This, but with slightly less clawing.
(Image courtesy angelsite.wordpress.com.)

Like Gigapets of old, you must frequently feed and entertain these creatures to win their e-attention.  You start by leaving food and toys in your virtual backyard to lure them in, then - and here's the difficult part - you close the app.  When you reopen it, you may find yourself the Sultan of Strays, or, if you haven't plotted the fanciest of feasts, you may find that the furballs have taken up residence in your neighbors' more attractive yards.  The catgrass is always greener, etc.

Obviously, your e-cats are sensitive beasts to be treated as royalty.
(Image courtesy dailymail.co.uk.)

There's no notifications and no way of telling what feline friends may accrue.  You just need to keep closing and reopening the app, like so many tentative cracks of your back porch door as you eagerly await the mewling yelps that will signify your adoptive descent into weird spinsterdom (or weird dude-spinsterdom, whatever.)

Lunacy doesn't discriminate.
(Image courtesy 9laughs.com.)

So now you're the T.S. Eliot of your smartphone neighborhood, and Magical Mister Mistofelees and his gang of (practical?) pals have taken up residence in your e-yard.  What now?  Well, you can take pictures of your cats, cataloging them in albums, and seeking out rare specimens.  That's...fun?  You can also earn in-game currency in the form of silver and gold fish, as your cats' appreciation of your efforts translates (at least in this magical world) to something transactionally valuable.  Gold fish can be used to expand your new cat overlords' domain until they have the run of your place.

Pictured:  just a minor infestation in Neko Atsume.
(Image courtesy vice.com.)

Because the world is a strange and terrible place, actual currency can be exchanged for the virtual gold fish.  You know, instead of using it for literally any other worthwhile endeavor in the real world, with real people and experiences.  But that's your choice.  You know what your kitties need best.

Neko Atsume is available for iOS and Android.  On the offhand chance there is both a greater divine being and the persistence of human spirit, may god have mercy on your soul.

(Image courtesy gmanetwork.com.)

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Get The App Kicked Out Of You: Chinese Now Hiring Thugs By Smartphone

You used to have to go into shady bars or disreputable gyms to find yourself a hired goon.  Now, thanks to the magic of smartphones, you need only use an app, according to a report from China...

And to think, beatdown apps used to be all fun and games...
(Image courtesy play.google.com.)



As reported by Shanghaiist, the Chinese app Didi Da Ren is available for all of your assault needs.  Promising the well-honed smacking services of "gym coaches, retired soldiers, gangsters and crooks", the app was possibly spawned from an online talk show's satirical video, but found a real, live, bleeding market.

Just be careful you don't get a bootleg goon.  They're no good at being no good.
(Image courtesy voont.com.)

A reporter from Kunming put the app to the test, and learned that a talented thug would be willing to provide his services on a sliding scale rate, depending on the level of harm-infliction desired.  All he required was a photo of the desired beat-ee and an idea of where to possibly encounter them, and boom, you're troubled no more!  The rate for various injuries was between $30-$80, and he only required two days' notice to set to business.

And you get to pretend you're a badass for hiring a thug.  Win/win!
(Image courtesy imgfave.com.)

At least 40,000 people have already downloaded the app, and it also offers escort services.  You know, something nice, to counteract all that violence.


If you're really lucky, you might get a two-for-one hitman/hittable man.
(Image courtesy news.softpedia.com.)

The developer, Changsha Zhang Kong Information Technology Limited, insists illicit activity was not the intended use of the app, and has instructed employees to manually remove all ads for thugs, crooks, miscreants, henchmen, goons, and anyone else who'll serve up a knuckle sandwich. Too bad...we always wanted a ninja for hire.

"Yeah, I take bitcoin."
(Image courtesy fitocracy.com.)

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"Clear" For Takeoff: New App Removes All Of Your Objectionable Social Media Posts

If you have some kind of a social media account, chances are you've at some point made a statement or posted an image there that you're not particularly proud of.  Maybe you've let it get buried in a tidal wave of tech and time, but if it still exists, it can still be found...and possibly used against you.  Take this power away from your enemies with a new app...

(Image courtesy failbook.com.)



Sure, perhaps your friends and followers understood that the jokes you were making about Bush / Obama / America / fat people / etc. were all just in jest, and that you didn't really intend to call for any of their violent demises, but this is the sort of thing that prospective employers will show you the door for.  Don't have your words (or drunken party pictures) twisted against you.

And just like that, you were scrubbed from the space program.
(Image courtesy lamebook.com.)


According to gadgets.nctv.com, the "Clear" app was developed by Jeb Bush's former Chief Technology Officer, Ethan Czahor.  Czahor had been a member of an improv comedy troupe before landing the much-coveted gig working for Bush, but when his Twitter feed of unsavory experimental material was unearthed and painted him in a bad light, his dream job ended in a rude awakening.

Cazhor explains on Clear's website, "I created Clear to make sure situations like mine never happen to anyone ever again.”

Clear can't fix the rest of your terrible life, but it sure can improve your reporting of it.
(Image courtesy lamebook.com.)

The app, which parses through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using proprietary algorithms as well as algorithms from Watson (the famous Jeopardy-winning IBM computer), finds all possibly-objectionable material and presents it to you.  Certain terms that prove harsh on the app's "sensitivity report" (such as derogatory use of the word "gay") will produce prominent results, but other cautionary ones ("America") will also be triggers for possible deletion.  You then choose which bits of brilliance to retain, and banish the rest.

Unfortunately, your terrible posts on the pages of others will live on in infamy.
(Image courtesy reddit.com/r/cringepics.)

Clear is currently in beta testing for iOS.  Jobs are hard enough to come by without your terrible attempts at humor intervening.  Do your personal history a favor, and rewrite it like a winner.


Well, do the best you can.
(Image courtesy failbook.com.)

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I Know It's Only Rock 'n Roll (Setlyst App Review), But I Like It

Are you a rocker?  Do you rock out?  Then you know that, amid all the beers, babes, gear, and gregariousness of live performance, it really helps to be organized.  A new app can help take care of at least a little bit of that (without making you start a budget for a real manager...)

Now you just have to worry about staying inflammable and keeping your gear in one piece.
(Image courtesy wallpedes.com.)


The new "Setlyst" app, available for iOS, helps you compile and display the list of tunes that are your audience's audio menu for the evening.  For those hectic shows where you're busy with load-in, tuning, and fending off swarms of admirers, this makes the process of setlist compilation tremendously more simple.  That means you get to spend more time being a rockstar and less time digging through your mental archives to find the right song to close with.

Don't waste too much time compiling sets...the fans are getting rowdy.
(Image courtesy under30ceo.com.)

You can sort through your songs organized by key, length, or tempo.  It's also a helpful repository if you have a big/weird back catalog of material and want to throw some curveballs into the act ("Hey guys, I almost forgot we did that sick metal Katy Perry 'Hot 'N Cold' cover back in 2008...want to weird some people out?")

\m/.   .\m/
(Image courtesy dieselsweeties.com.)

Voila, now you have a neatly-arranged and displayed set list of appropriate length and key, and you can get back to drinking beer and autographing boobs pre-show, like the rock gods intended!  You can also share your setlists online, so your groupies won't all be fighting over who'd get the handwritten stage version.

Just don't spill too much beer (or blood) on your phone.
(Image courtesy a5mzstatic.com.)


Setlyst is free, and works on iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.  More features will be added soon, but in the meantime, set 'em up and knock 'em out, rockers!

   Need a little inspiration?  Here's a gnarly cover.  
                       Make your music however you want, but make your sets with Setlyst!
                                            


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Pan-droids: Futuristic "Automated Kitchen" Robo-Chef To Debut In 2017

Many classically-popular visions of the future are starting to pick up steam, but one in particular is really cooking.  No, seriously, it's a robot that cooks...

Just don't let it drink too much of that wine as it works.
(Image courtesy digitaltrends.com.)



According to factor-tech.com, a robot set to launch in 2017 is capable of creating 2,000 different dishes by "hand."  Using humanoid hand-like controls to cut, stir, mix, pour, and measure ingredients, this cyborg chef will be as accessible as ordering food on your phone.  Actually, that's exactly what will happen: an attendant app will offer users a menu, and once punched in, the chow-bot sets to work.

It's like a reverse-Terminator that keeps you alive with delicious meals.
(Image courtesy thesilverink.com.)

Created by Moley Robotics, the culinary contraption features amazingly dexterous hands that operate via 20 motors, 24 joints, and 129 sensors.  The "hands" are sensitive enough for refined culinary work like cutting and measuring, and the robot itself "knows" when to adjust heat and remove its confections from the stove (which features as a part of the integrated Automated Kitchen unit.)

The hands are so dexterous, you'll have to be careful they don't start slap-fights with your other robots.
(Image courtesy tk409.com.)

The robotic hands are driven by algorithms that originated from recordings made of a professional chef working in a special 3D-film studio.  Ultimately, the robot's actions would be advanced enough to school any humans watching - a reverse-learning process that could have appeal to prospective chefs or just those seeking to perfect new recipes.  An updateable, teachable "app store for food" would provide instructions and recipes for the Automated Kitchen to create as its humans kick back with a nice pre-dinner drink (oh, and there's a robot for that, too.)


'Bots and shots.  What a future!
(Image courtesy robotplunger.com.)

Mark Oleynik, the founder of Moley Robotics, is excited about the creativity and connectivity elements of the Automated Kitchen as much as the labor-saving pluses. “Whether you love food and want to explore different cuisines, or fancy saving a favorite family recipe for everyone to enjoy for years to come, the Automated Kitchen can do this,” he said.

Check out Moley's website to watch your personal robo-chef whip up some of Grandma's spaghetti.  Let's just hope they also taught it how to do the dishes.


And they didn't give it legs, so it can't chase you with that chef's knife if you insult its culinary creations.
(Image courtesy ryot.org.)

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Bodies And Oddities: New "Figure 1" Medical Photo-Sharing App Offers Different Doctors' Opinions, Crazy Pics

One of the most popular social media apps, Instagram, has been growing in popularity so much that some users have even been abandoning their Facebook for it.  Now, an Instagram-type app has found a niche community for people who need to use the photos for research that goes further than what you're wearing or what you ate today.  Enter Figure 1, a photo-sharing app for doctors.

Physical graffitti?
(Image courtesy linkedin.com.)

According to techno-speak.com, Figure 1 allows doctors to compare "notes" (a.k.a. photos and attendant comments) of strange or difficult medical cases, seeking to get other professional opinions on them.  Non-doctors that are fans of serious medical weirdness can also peruse the patients' cases (just don't go in there thinking it's not going to be grand-scale gross.  It is.)

This is part of a normal day for some people, and now, they can team up to give better care.
Because some of you obviously need it.
(Image courtesy globalnews.ca.)

However, according to theverge.com, some of the images can be quite beautiful in their uniqueness or oddity.  They're also often not bad as warning shots to regular folks, like patients who suffer injuries from hardware mishaps or other DIY destruction.  X-rays, raw injury photos, and surgery before-and-afters are all featured, tagged and organized by anatomy and specialty.

Figure 1 was created by Joshua Landy, a critical care physician who wanted to organize what was already a trend with his peers: photographing and sharing medical data.  This app not only indexes the data but also offers patients a better degree of privacy as their weird issues are sorted out (photos have all personally-identifying material removed, or can be "signed off" on from patients.)  

Wounded?  Why not add a skull selfie to the rest of your internet photo collection?
(Image courtesy mdgadvertising.com.)

It also brings a challenge to all types of medical professionals.  Some 2 million images a day are viewed via the app, and it expands the horizons of those who often make a career of focusing on singular elements of an affliction.  James Sacrant, a radiologist, explained, "As a specialist, your focus can really narrow down, and the conversations on here help to round that back out."

Like other social media platforms, commenting and "favoriting" is a thing on Figure 1, too.  "It feels like the lingua franca of medical professionals involves looking at things, analyzing, and collaboration," says Andy Weissman, an investor.  But don't worry about non-doctors writing up weird cures to try to fix the odd issues:  only medical professionals are allowed to comment, and each are individually verified.  Regular folks are still allowed to check out the imagery, though, so if you feel like watching in on the diverse damages uploaded to a worldwide virtual medical theater, Figure 1 offers no shortage of fascination.

Well, that's...adventurous.
(Image courtesy theatlantic.com.)

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Clock 'N Roll: It's Almost Time For The Apple Watch!

Heads up...the next shiny chunk of future is about to fall of the tech tree and land on your wrist.  The much-heralded Apple Watch will go on sale next Friday, April 10th...

Anything with "space" in the color title has got to be interesting.
(Image courtesy macrumors.com.)


According to techcrunch.com, the Apple Store website has just announced that at 12:01 PDT next Friday, you will officially be able to purchase a gadget that will make you feel more James Bond-y than ever, at least if it means conquering the evils of boredom, disorganization, and timekeeping.

The watches are available in three styles: Watch Sport, Watch, and Watch Edition.  The "Sport", a.k.a. the starter model, starts at $349 and comes with a silver aluminum case (38mm or 42mm), Ion-X glass face, and a white, pink, blue, or green sport band.  It also comes in the same sizes with a black sports band and an aluminum case in our favorite color, Space Grey.

If you can't justify the cost, think of it as a little art installation for your arm.
(Image courtesy expertreviews.co.uk.)

Options explode from there, with the regular Watch offered in the same sizes, starting at $549 and offering 20 different models, including interesting leather and metal wristbands.  The Space Black color option with matching link bracelet will run you just over a grand, but you can convincingly pretend that someday you might be headed for space.  It's that futuristic.

The upper-tier watches also offer advantages like ultra-strong sapphire crystal faces and durable stainless steel or gold housing, but all of the models offer a suite of onboard apps, including email, text, phone, fitness tracking, maps, Siri, camera remote (for triggering your other i-device for selfies), TV remote, music, stocks, stopwatch, photos, weather...wait a second, PHONE?  Yep.  A phone on your wrist.  Want to mute a call?  Just cover it up!  If only real life interactions could be dealt with so simply.

LEAVE A MESSAGE!
(Image courtesy www.dailymail.co.uk.)

Other apps from the Apple Watch App Store are available, covering things from travel to sports to games to adjusting the temperature inside your BMW before you hop in.  There's even a Sky Guide app so you can enjoy phenomena in the night sky, provided you ever look up from your wrist again.

For those who are looking for what is essentially a high-tech Rolex, the Watch Edition models start at $10,000 and feature 18-karat-gold (yellow or rose) cases.  The gold alloy is twice as strong as boring old regular gold, just in case you for some reason end up abusing a watch worth more than many peoples' lives.

What half of the average American's yearly income looks like, in rose gold.
(Image courtesy computerworlduk.com.)

If you're jonesing for more info RIGHT NOW, you can call up Apple's specialists at 1-800-MY-APPLE and talk timepieces.

By the way, 12:01 PDT is around 3 AM in New York City.  We know you'll be much better at timekeeping than any non-Apple-Watch wearers after next week, so we just wanted to tell you that and feel useful one more time before being once again replaced by robots.

Thanks for clicking, and keep on ticking!

Good luck, bootleggers.
(Image courtesy technobuffalo.com.)

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New Abortion-Education App Provides Help To Women Worldwide

Abortion rights are a serious issue which affects women around the world, but can something as impersonal as technology bring like-minded women the help that they need?  Now, thanks to a new app, a notable organization thinks that they can help those women when society won't...

(Image courtesy umbc.edu.)


According to Vice magazine, a support and education network called Women On The Web is an internet-based group that offers embattled women more opportunities than what their nations or circumstances would allow.  Their new app, Safe Abortion With Pills, is a resource for women who want to terminate a pregnancy but do not have access to a medically-safe means of doing so.



"What you can do is select a country and a language, and then you get information on the law in the country," explained Dr. Rebecca Gomperts, who had previously offered abortion advice to women via email. "You get information on which brands of {abortion pill} misoprostol you can buy, about fakes and other organizations, and there's an animation about how to do a medical abortion with misoprostol."

Dr. Gompert's Women On The Web organization has been in operation since 2006, and have sent pills to women in 130 countries (their website operates in 15 languages.) This summer, they're even pondering using a drone to deliver pills to remote or dangerous regions.

Is it wrong to call it the Anti-Stork?
(Image courtesy wired.co.uk.)

Considering that women can be beaten, jailed, or murdered regarding this particular choice for their bodies, it's important to give power back to the ladies who don't want their wombs occupied, for whatever reason. The decision is the childbearer's right to make, and this online network of women are willing to share their stories to show they're not wrong, lesser, or evil for making this critical decision.

Women On The Web's encouragement of women to share their abortion stories also works as a means of removing the social stigma from the act, and they maintain a world map of where the stories occur. The technology transposes a human touch to an issue faced by women the world over, lending direly-needed care and advice to women during their difficult situations.

The Safe Abortion With Pills app is soon to be completed and released for free on iTunes, but currently exists on Google Play. For those to whom maintaining their sexual health means risking their lives, this could be a safe and educational way to offer an answer.

Good teamwork, ladies.
(Image courtesy rjfs.org.)

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True Story: New "StoryCorps" App Aims To Preserve Diverse Histories

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have passed down traditions, songs, legends, folklore, family history, and more via the medium of storytelling.  In modern day, transcribed oral histories have lent insight into some of the most important events of recorded time.  Now, a method to preserve these tales for the ages has been made easy in app form.

"That's how much of my intestinal tract the German bomb eviscerated,
but I still bayoneted five of 'em before I passed out."
-"Uh...Dad, weren't you born in Ecuador?  In 1950?"
(Image courtesy lifehacker.com.)



StoryCorps, an organization started in 2003, is at the forefront of cataloging these experiences.  Their mission is to compile as many oral histories as people are willing to offer, and they have already succeeded wildly in this quest.  According to the New York Times, founder David Isay claims the StoryCorps organization already holds “the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered.”

Got a friend who never shuts up?  Here's your chance to make them feel famous.
(Image courtesy imgkid.com.)

Now, your tale can be told as well. Of, if you're boring, there's plenty of space for the interesting folks in your life to leave their audio impression. And all of it achievable by app! Funded by the 2015 TED prize (a million-dollar grant aiding “a leader with a fresh, bold vision for sparking global change”), the system is simple: ask good questions of someone intriguing, record them in a quiet location, and upload for immortalization.


This was more succinct than the "Speak Your Piece" Corps.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)

Regarding the interviews, blog.TED.com had some helpful hints on how to get the good dirt out of people to farm more fascination. They suggest five main points:


   -Ask BIG, open-ended life questions ("What are you proudest of?", "Why do you continue chasing your dreams against ridiculous odds?", "What was the most important thing that happened to you before you met ME?", etc.)

   -Be attentive. You have two ears and only one mouth...double down on active listening.

   -Keyword: ACTIVE listening. You're flying this chat-plane, make it soar. Although the speaker is the one with the fuel and wings, you both need to care for the engines and passengers.  Pay attention, offer conversation cues, and maintain focus on your subject.

   -It's not the "story" that matters. This is a human being, and their experience is a truth. No need to mine for dirt or drama, just enjoy the expression.

   -SAY THANK YOU. Sharing isn't easy for everyone, and your appreciation is as important as your attention.

So get those skills and stories down! On the app, users can create a profile of their own under which to file interviews, listen to other active users, and browse through the vast StoryCorps archive. Once uploaded, the stories become part of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress (yes, the real Library of Congress. So make sure you say something interesting.) The app is free, and operates on iOS or Android.

Ears Across America?
(Image courtesy jdrucker@wordpress.com.)

What will your big questions be?  What might you want to be asked?  What might be your big answers? The whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys and hows of humanity are just waiting for you to pick them off the vine and distill them into something delicious. “We have this kind of crazy dream of collecting the wisdom of humanity,” Mr. Isay said. 

But is it still crazy if it's so full of words of wisdom?  Can anyone really answer this question?  Wait a moment, first let's sit down and hit record...



"Do you remember what you were thinking that time when I tied you to the train tracks?"
"Well, I had just wondered...wait, what?"
(Image courtesy pixshark.com.)
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Time Travel By Telephone: New App Shows Classic Pics At Scenic "Pivot Points"

Who doesn't enjoy the notion of time travelling to a different era in the past?  Speculating on the places, people, and events that have preceded your life is one of humanity's great fascinations, even as we stretch further into the future.  Now, although we can't physically poke around the past, a new app allows for a different type of this temporal trip...

It's like an inter-era Instagram.
(Image courtesy laughingsquid.com.)


According to wired.com, the new Pivot app adds a touch of "augmented reality" to everyday excursions.  When you near what they classify as a "pivot point", your phone receives an alert.  Raising your phone shows you an image of what the view from the spot you're standing on looked like at some point in the past.

Creator Asma Jaban co-invented the app as a means to explore her father's native Nazareth home.  “I wanted to create a way to let people see what my father’s village looked like in the past,” she explained. She and her fellow developers hope that the app will eventually become a platform for historical preservation.

 A Pivot point in Bethlehem.  It's two types of tourism for the price of one!
(Image courtesy fastcoexist.com.)

Pivot currently utilizes online archives for their material, but hopes to open a "shoebox archive" where people from around the world can upload photos of the past for perusal at pivot points.  Once the accuracy of the images is confirmed, each will be tied to a specific GPS point.  Already, prospective time-jockeys have offered images from Italy, Australia, Indonesia, and all around the United States.

Pivot is compatible with Android and iOS, and though they have reached their kickstarter goal, will continue to fundraise until this Saturday. They plan to launch the app this fall, including points of historical interest from Boston and Palestine. More cities will be added so that viewers can "see your world through a tunnel of time." Now, you can be a time tourist without having to worry about all that annoying stuff like getting the proper money and clothes and weapons to fend off everyone who thinks you're a sorcerer!  Enjoy the explorations!


A Pivot point in Yaffa, Palestine.  The more some things change, the more others stay the same...
(Image courtesy mondoweiss.net.)

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PyGest: A Python Tkinter Tutorial, Part 2

This is part two in our Python tkinter tutorial series. In part one, we defined the basic structure of our script, set up a logger, and got the root window of our GUI application up and running in the app's single view class. In the present article, we'll begin work on the main view in earnest. We will configure the tkinter root object, create and configure a single frame to hold all the app's contents, and then create our app's title banner. First, however, we should discuss how to structure the layout of a Python tkinter application, and our strategy for doing so in the present project.


From what I've read, it appears that a lot of people had been turned off by Tkinter in the past because of its' seemingly weird geometry management, which involved a choice between placing widgets, or packing them or putting them in a grid, when building a layout. The docs suggest using the pack method over the placement method. It is thus no surprise that many tutorials and reference web sites utilize the pack method.

But the pack method never really clicked for me when I first started playing around with Tkinter in Python 2.7 a couple years ago. These days, in Python 3.4, the preference is to configure tkinter views using the grid geometry manager. This method is suggested by Russel Keith-Magee in his defense of tkinter (mentioned in the introduction to our series), and I've come across other recent discussions of the module making a similar argument.

Grid Geometry Management: Grids of Grids
In terms of its geometry, our app will consist of a grid of grids. First, we are going to configure the root window as a 1x1 grid. Into that single root cell, we'll then install a main outer frame, which we'll structure as a grid that will grow as we add more components to our interface. We will then group related individual widgets (labels, inputs, buttons, etc.) into their own frames in a grid format, and then drop these frames into the desired cell(s) of the main outer frame's grid as needed to build our interface.

For the purposes of this tutorial, we are going to structure the View() class by creating a setup method that is run on initialization of the class. This method will call a series of others methods that build the individual elements of the app: root window, main frame, banner, input fields, output fields, button box, etc. We will build out these various methods in subsequent articles until we have a working model of our mockup design.

Configure the Root Window
Beginning from where we left off in part one, we'll now add our set_up() method to the View class, and call it from init(). In set_up(), we'll call another method, configure_root(), where – you guessed it – we configure the root window. We're going to set some basic properties on the root window by calling two methods on the self.root attribute in the View class: columnconfigure() and rowconfigure(). It is here that we could also call methods such as minsize(), if we so desired.

We use the columnconfigure() and rowconfigure() methods on root to define the properties of the outermost grid in our app. These methods each take an integer parameter defining which column and row we are referring to (in our case, since we are building a 1x1 grid, we'll be defining column 0 and row 0), as well as a kwarg that defines their respective weights to be 1. The weight keyword argument determines how the cell responds when the window is resized. Giving them both a weight of 1 means they will resize proportionally to each other when the window is resized. Your View class should now look as follows:


Learn to love the column and row configuration methods! They are the primary means by which we'll define where our app's widgets live, and how the individual cells of our app respond to changes in the window size. There are other configuration options for the root window which you can play around with on your own, but we're now done configuring the root window for the purposes of PyGest.

Configure the Main Frame
We'll now configure the main content frame of the app. As mentioned above, we are going to drop this content frame into the single cell we just defined for the root window. Unlike the root grid, this content frame will be variable in size and will grow as we add more widgets to the interface. Define a new method called configure_mainframe() in the view class and call it from the class's set_up() method. For now, we are going to add five lines of code to this method. Later we'll see it grow along with the rest of the app.


If you run the app now, you may find that your window has mysteriously disappeared! No need to panic, we'll get to that in a second. (Hint: call the minsize() method on the root object.) There's a lot going on in our configure_mainframe() method. Always start with a comment. After that, I added a simple log to make sure the method is actually being called  – since I initially forgot to call this method from set_up!

Next we define the app's main frame as a tkinter.Frame() object. Notice I'm defining it as self.mainframe, i.e. as an instance attribute of the class. This is because we are going to have to reference this attribute from other methods as we add more widgets to our app. (Though not strictly necessary, I also declare this attribute in the init() method of the class and assign it an initial value of None just to be explicit about its existence, and to make my IDE stop complaining about the fact that I've defined an instance attribute outside of init().)

We thus define self.mainframe as a tkinter.Frame() object and pass it two arguments. The first identifies the pre-existing object into which we want to embed this frame. We only have one such object right now (the root window of the app!) so we pass in self.root. I've also given the frame a background color to provide visual confirmation that it is in place. You can explore other parameters in effbot's reference documentation.

Next, we call the grid() method on our newly declared mainframe object, and pass it three kwargs. The column and row arguments determine where the self.mainframe object will be located within the self.root grid that we are attaching it to (as defined in the previous line of code). Our root grid only has a single cell, with the coordinates row 0 and column 0. So that's what we pass to the mainframe's grid method. Finally, we pass in the kwarg sticky, which we define as north, south, east and west. This means that the mainframe object will stick to the north, south, east and west sides of the cell to which it has been attached, if the size of that cell changes.

Finally, we configure a single column and a single row for our mainframe content grid, and give them each a weight of 1, just as we did for the root window. At present, our main frame is now a 1x1 grid, embedded in the single cell of the root window's 1x1 grid. As we add widgets to our interface, we will add more columns and rows to the mainframe grid as necessary.

As mentioned above, if you run the app with the code above, you may find that your window as mysteriously disappeared! This is because it has nothing in it except for an empty frame! By default, tkinter windows and cells always shrink down to fit the size of their largest element. Since our frame is empty, the window is minimized to the maximum. You can easily resize the window by calling the minsize() method on the root object in your configure_root() method: self.root.minsize(200,200).

Running the app with the code above, not much should change except for the fact that the window is now blue (or whatever color you've decided upon). If you resize the app, the main frame will stick to all four sides of the root window, and the window will remain blue. However, if you play around with the sticky kwarg by using different combinations of north, south, east and west, you'll see some perhaps surprising changes in the look of things.

For example, if you make the frame sticky only to the north and south, you'll see a single vertical line through the middle of the window. If you make it sticky only to the east and west, you'll see a single horizontal line through the middle of the window. This is because in tkinter, by default, a widget object is only as big as its biggest element. But our main frame doesn't have anything in it yet, so it collapses down in this seemingly weird way.

Configure the Banner
We now have a single root window structured as a 1x1 grid. We've embedded a single frame in that root window, and this frame is (for the time being) also structured as a 1x1 grid. As we add components to our interface we will add more rows and/or columns to this frame as necessary. Let's start to fill it out by giving it a header banner that displays the name of the app. First things first, define a new method inside the View() class called configure_banner(), call this method from set_up(), give it a basic comment and a log message.

We are going to display our app's name in the title banner using a simple label object. However, we now have a choice. Label is one of the objects that can be found in both tkinter and the ttk submodule. (As mentioned in part one, the ttk submodule contains widgets that are not available in the top level tkinter library, ex. Combobox, and also "gives the application an improved look and feel," according to the docs.) Objects that are in both the tkinter top level library and the ttk submodule are styled in a slightly different manner. Styling parameters are passed directly to top level tkinter objects like labels, whereas for ttk objects you have to configure these objects using the style class. You can play around with both to get a sense of the differences, if you like. For the sake of simplicity and backward compatibility, we're going to use a basic tkinter label here.

The configure_banner() method in our View() class is going to be very simple. It will have two critical lines of code: the first defines the banner as a label attached to our main frame and gives it some basic styling, and the second defines where the label will be placed in the main frame's grid as well as some other parameters. Here's the code for the configure_banner() method:


Under the comment and the log message, I define the banner variable itself as a tkinter label. We're passing five arguments to the tkinter.Label() object: 1) self.mainframe is the object we are attaching this label to, 2) we're making the background black so we can see it, 3) the text kwarg defines the text that will be displayed in the label, 4) the font kwarg is assigned a tuple that contains the name of the font and its size, and finally 5) fg (which stands for foreground) defines what color the foreground text is (note, you can also shorten the background kwarg to bg).

In the final line of the method, we specify the behavior of the object itself by calling the grid method on it. We're passing in five arguments here as well. The row and column kwargs specify where the banner will appear in the mainframe object in which it is embedded. We want our banner to appear at the top of the interface, so we're putting it at row 0, column 0. (We'll drop our next object into the app just below the banner at row 1, column 0 in the main frame.) Next we make the object sticky to the north, south, east and west to start. Finally we give it some horizontal and vertical padding to give the object a bit of breathing room.

If you had previously defined a minimum size for your root window with the minsize() method, you should comment that out, so you can see how the default window sizing works now that we have an object with some substance embedded in the frame. Here's the state of the app with its banner and debug coloring:
With that done, we'll end the present article here. We covered a lot of ground in this post, and  introduced the basic development flow that we'll follow throughout the remainder of the series. Play around with the various parameters for the main frame and the banner, and start exploring other tkinter widgets. In the next article, we will configure the necessary widgets for our app's inputs: labels, text entry objects, and radio buttons. Here's the state of our code:


Thanks for following along. As always, questions, comments, critiques and suggestions are welcome in the comments. In the next article in the series, we will build out the widgets relating to our app's user inputs: labels, text entry fields and buttons.You can find the next article in the series here.
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Carpooling Goes Commercial: New "Via" App Sends Pooled Passengers To Mutual Destinations


In a city of millions, one often wonders who else might be going their way, or at least in that general direction.  For the urbanites who might be accustomed to not speaking with their vast number of neighbors, a new app has handled these transportation logistics for them...

Bail on the hail.  Hit up the Via app.
(Image courtesy allposters.com.)




According to the New York Times, the new ride-sharing app Via is a smart, efficient, inexpensive means to get where you (and at least one other person) are going.  Currently available only in certain parts of Manhattan, the app was modeled off of privately owned, shared shuttle buses in Tel Aviv.

With an estimated 150,000 taxi rides being taken per day in the Via delivery zone (32nd to 110th streets, weekdays from 6:45 AM to 9:00 PM), sharing could indeed be a useful idea.  It cuts down on pollution, reduces traffic, saves money for the passengers, and thankfully eschews the subterranean horrors of the subway or the winner-take-all chariot race that is Manhattan bicycling.

The existential exhaustion of the subway can now be thwarted, and you'll retain a more tolerable hint of human interaction.
(Image courtesy s.wsj.net.)

At a flat rate of $5 and operating in a swath of terrain that is necessary for many to access, Via could be a happy medium between expensive solo cab rides and subway shenanigans.  No worries if your ride-mate is late...the rules state they'll just have to wait for the next Via (arrival wait times are estimated at a mere 5 minutes.)  There'll likely be another willing customer just waiting to hop in for a spin to where...or near...you're off to.

Via is available for free download to iOS or Android.  Happy trails!

And who knows?  You might even find a friendly new monkey
to swing around your stretch of the urban jungle with.
(Image courtesy commons.wikimedia.org.)


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PyGest: A Python Tkinter Tutorial, Part 1

This is part one in our tutorial series on building a simple Python GUI app with tkinter. You can find the introductory article to the series at the link. In this article, we'll get things up and running by filling out the basic structure for our Python script and the application itself. We'll add a top level comment, define the necessary imports, set up our main name space, define the main function, and then configure a logger to aid in sanity checking . . .


Our app doesn't have a name yet. Typically, Python application names have a 'py' prefix or suffix attached to a word describing the app itself. Since this app processes hash digests, we'll call it PyGest, for lack of a better idea. So we'll create pygest.py, add our top level comment and our main namespace. Then we define our main function with a comment and a pass for the moment, and then call this function from the top level script environment.


Let's talk about imports. We don't need to import that many libraries for our little app. We'll use the hashlib module to perform the hashing operations, the logging module to help with debugging, and, of course, the tkinter library. The imports for tkinter require a bit of explanation.

With tkinter it is common practice not to import the module itself, but rather all the elements in it directly (i.e. "from tkinter import *" instead of "import tkinter"), which is normally frowned upon in other contexts. Perhaps this is to avoid unnecessary keystrokes? However, in this project, we're going to flout convention and import the module just like any other, i.e. "import tkinter". This will require us to explicitly declare the module's name when we call up one of its objects (ex. tkinter.Label()), but it will help us keep better visual track of tkinter objects in our code.

Secondly, one of the additions to the tkinter module in Python 3 is the ttk submodule, which offers many of the same objects as the tkinter module itself: labels, buttons etc. However, it also contains a number of widgets that are not in the tkinter standard library (ex. combo boxes), and its objects are optimized to take on the native look of the OS platform running the app. (Personally, on my system, I can't tell much of a difference between the look of most tkinter widgets and ttk widgets.)

For our tutorial app, we're not going to be doing anything especially fancy, so I've opted not to use the ttk submodule, as all of the widgets we'll be using that are in ttk can also be found in tkinter proper. Moreover, widgets in the ttk submodule require a different styling format than the same widgets in tkinter, so keeping to the main library will make much of the code that follows accessible to folks working in Python 2.7. For more on the ttk submodule, see TkDocs. (Note that in Python 2.7, the tkinter module has a slightly different name. It is capitalized: Tkinter. And the ttk submodule is not available, as far as I'm aware.) With that, let's add our imports.


To aid in sanity checking, I like to configure a basic logger at the beginning of a project. If you're not familiar with the logging module, read up on it a bit in the docs. The idea is simple: we configure a logging object and then call it when we want to report info from the program while it's running. Of course, you might also consider just using print statements, but a logger can provide more information such as the time, the line number in the script, indicate levels of severity, in addition to providing a particular message. I'm also going to declare a 'title' variable with the name of the application.

So I define the title variable just underneath the import statements, then configure the logger inside the main function, and log a message indicating that the app has started up. This logger configuration logs the time, the line number, the level name and a message. For all the basic logging configuration options, see the docs.


Alright, let's get down to business. Tkinter works by running a tkinter.Tk() object in an event loop that can react to defined user inputs such as button clicks, mouse events, keyboard inputs and the like. In our application's main function, we will: 1) initialize our Tk() object as 'root', 2) configure the application's title by passing it to the root object, and then 3) pass the root object to our application's main view.

The main view will be a Python class that we use to configure, structure and build our interface. We thus add four lines to our main function. Notice that when I pass the root object to the view, I'm assigning the return to a variable. I have seen inconsistent explanation of this idiom, but it appears to be standard practice.


Of course, running the script above will result in an error since we haven't defined our View() class yet. So let's do that now. The View class will accept one argument, the root object. In the init() method, we'll define the root argument parameter, then assign the root object to a class instance variable appropriately named 'root'.


If you run the script above, you'll see your log message written to the terminal and then the program will appear to hang. But if everything's working properly, that's just what we would expect because it has launched the tkinter root window, which should be running its main loop. If you don't see the application's window, cycle through the applications that are open on your desktop to find it. By default, the tkinter root window does not take focus, and may be hidden behind them (it's nice like that). In your system's list of running applications, you should also see an icon indicating that the Python app is up and active. Here's what the empty root window looks like on my system, with a default size of about 200x220px:
If you can't seem to find the window even though the app is clearly running, it may be that the window is being drawn, but is not big enough to be seen. In that case, try setting a minimum size to the root window. Just after you pass in the title to the root object, add a line such as the following: root.minsize(300, 300).

To exit, you can just close out the window. Notice, if you press <Control-c> on the keyboard when in the terminal, the program does not stop running until focus is returned to the root window itself. With that, we've got the seed for our application in place.

In the next article, we'll begin the process of building it out, widget by widget. You can find the second article in the series at the link.
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PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutorial, Introduction

In this tutorial series, we are going to build a simple file hashing application using the Python standard library's interface to the TK GUI toolkit: tkinter. One can find some resistance to using tkinter in the Python community. However, my interest in tkinter was recently rekindled after watching "Tinkering with Tkinter", a presentation by Russel Keith-Magee, in which the Django developer makes a strong case for revisiting this often overlooked and under-appreciated component of the Python standard library . . .

As Keith-Magee points out, these days tkinter has a number of arguments in its favor: 1) it is in the standard library, 2) it has been greatly improved in recent years, with additions to its basic functionality (more widgets!) as well as improvements in the look and feel of the GUIs it can generate, and 3) new resources such as the website TkDocs provide a ton of information to get Python tkinter GUI apps up and running in a relatively short period of time. Keith-Magee walks the walk as well, having built Cricket – a GUI tool for running Django and Python test suites – entirely with tkinter.

Our goal here is much more modest. We're going to build a single view file hashing utility in a manner appropriate for people with some experience programming in Python, but little or even no experience in Python GUI programming. Why would anyone want to build a file hashing utility? Simply put, hash functions can help determine the integrity of a file. For example, if a developer provides the hash value of a given file along with a download, you can check the hash value of the file you've downloaded against the one supplied by the developer to test whether the file was corrupted or modified in transit. (If you're new to the concept of hash functions or need a refresher, check out our past article on How and Why to Check a File's Hash Value.)

With that determination, we can already specify the basic functionality that we'd like our tutorial application to have. It should be able to: 1) generate hash digests of a specified file, 2) check the result against a known hash value, 3) alert the user as to whether or not there is a match, and 4) provide a choice of hash functions to use in the process.

Our application will thus need: 1) a number of labels to orient the user, 2) input fields for the file's path and the hash value to check against, 3) mutually exclusive radio buttons to choose the hash value, and 4) some buttons to run the program and clear the contents of the input fields. The project will thus provide us with the opportunity to play around with the basic elements of any GUI application. Here's a simple mockup:


We are going to use Python 3.4 throughout, but much of the code that follows should also work in Python 2.7, and I'll try to provide pointers as to when and why it might not. In case anyone is interested, I'm building this using the PyCharm Free Community Edition IDE on a Macbook laptop. Please note, there may be, or rather, it is virtually certain that there are far better ways to code the application presented in this tutorial. I built the GUI on the basis of my own idiosyncratic research into the tkinter library, and have organized the project to make it easier to present and digest in this tutorial series.

In the next article, we'll begin by laying out the bare bones structure of the application. Then we'll use a grid layout manager to construct our primary view as a set of grids within grids. This post will be updated with links to each successive article in the series as it is uploaded to the site. Enjoy! As always, any and all suggestions, comments and critiques are welcome in the comments. You can follow along with the tutorial using the links below:

PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutorial, Part 1 
PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutotial, Part 2
PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutorial, Part 3 
PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutorial, Part 4 
PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutorial, Part 5 
PyGest: A Python tkinter Tutorial, Conclusion
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The Good, The Bad, And The Shutdown: New Apps For Feelings (And Lack Thereof)


Feeling down on yourself in this cruel world, and need a bright note to cheer up your day?  Or do you prefer balling up your hatred and slinging it recklessly at another?  Thanks to miraculous modern technology, there are apps to abet both...

"Yo Mama's so dumb, even her smartphone counts on its fingers!"
-"That's not very nice, Greg.  Do you need a Positive Compliment?"
(Image courtesy shutterstock.com.)
 
First up, the happy stuff.  Because you might not have friends, family, a lover, or even a dog to make you feel like you're a valuable person whose life is worth living, now you can at least fake it thanks to the Positive Compliments app.  Containing "hundreds of compliments and positive quotes", this little electronic ray of sunshine is available for iPhone and iPad.  For only 99 cents, you can have the validation that neither whiskey nor your estranged fellow humans can offer!

I ate only one donut instead of three today, does that count?
(Image courtesy appchartcompass.com.)

Of course, this is not the sort of thing that everybody wants to hear.  Pithy, patronizing bits of text might not inspire you at all.  Perhaps you need something a little more forceful, or feel that your depressed friend may require as much.  Enter Burnweasel.  This handy app offers four categories of vitriol:  Favorites, Insults, Yo Mama Jokes, and Comebacks.  Best of all, you can share this jacked-up version of joyfulness for free - the app, made for Android, iPhone and iPad, is available at no cost.  They also have a Twitter, for all your social media harassment needs.

No word on whether you're allowed to burn Burnweasel for stupid insults.
(Image courtesy imgur.com.)

Maybe this is getting weird.  Maybe you shouldn't be depending on your phone to be such a major influence of emotional engagement.  Perhaps it'd be best if you just shut the thing off and talked to some humans for a change, or read a book, or did literally anything other than obsessively tap a tiny screen.  That's where the Lock Me Out app steps up.  According to theutopiantech.com, this Android-based app will generate a random PIN number to keep you from all that inappropriate touching (of your phone, at least.)  The free version of the app will keep you away from your phone for up to ten minutes (which will feel like a fresh chunk of eternity, without your precious phone.)

Because it seems that ever turning anything off is no longer what's going on.

"Come on, just one more cat GIF before the lockout, pleeeeeeease..."
(Image courtesy linkupmarketing.com.)

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Dial-Up Diagnosis, Part II: Developing The "Sniffphone" App To Sense Cancer


Last week, we learned that HIV is now detectable via a cheap smartphone attachment.  Now, smartphones are getting even more diagnostically intelligent thanks to a new app that can identify cancer via a breath test...

According to Yahoo News, the new "Sniffphone" is in development by Israeli investors.  A simple breathalyzer-type test can detect gases in your breath that might be redolent of something more unpleasant than those fried seaweed snacks you insist don't smell that bad.  Micro and nano-sized sensors take inventory of the hundreds of gases in your breath and send the results to the app, which in turn sends them to a lab.

It rules your life in many other ways, it only makes sense that it would also monitor your health.
(Image courtesy techrj.com.)

With no X-rays or blood tests required, this could be a major medical stepping-stone into diagnostics for the masses.  And since early detection is key to stopping many cancers in their tracks, the phone app could go a long way towards protecting lives.  For those who already may be predisposed to cancer, accurate monitoring of the situation could add another layer of preventative care.

The Sniffphone app's creator, Professor Hossam Haick of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, explained the benefits of the invention, saying, "The Sniffphone will be made tinier and cheaper than disease detection solutions currently, consume little power, and most importantly, it will enable immediate and early diagnosis that is both accurate and non-invasive...Early diagnosis can save lives, particularly in life-threatening diseases such as cancer."

While not on the market yet, the project has received a $6 million Euro grant to continue research. According to NIH, more research is needed to make the perfect cancer app, but many have made strides in the field already. Incidentally, the gas-detecting technology used in the breathalyzer was originally invented to detect weapons and explosives. Perhaps in the near future, vigilance of our vapors will bring victory over even more medical villains.

Breathe easy, cancer-prone patients...soon the Sniffphone might be able to call for preventative help.
(Image courtesy scientificamerican.com.)

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Don't Just Complete, Compete! New "Push-ups With Friends" App Motivates More Muscles

We're now over a month into the new year - have you managed to maintain your resolutions?  If so, congratulations.  If not, was it because you aimed a little too high, or was it simply a lack of motivation?  If your time got crunched but your belly didn't, now, a new app can help you deal with at least one small aspect of getting fit.

The free new iPhone app PUWF (Push-ups With Friends) is straightforward and effective in the way that documented competition can be.  You do pushups, touching your nose to your smartphone as you complete a rep.  You and your friends will all get notifications when someone else in your group also drops and knocks out some pushups.  A leaderboard indicates monthly progress.  Your ripped arms and back will indicate the rest.

Use your smartphone for "games" that actually improve yourself.
(Image corutesy quickanddirtytips.com.)

With gadgets like the FitBit and entire smartphone systems devoted to managing every element of your health that's technologically trackable (at least without the aid of hospital equipment), the PUWF app eliminates the need for overabundant obsession.  Like a brutal but effective drill sergeant, it just wants you to do more pushups.  It might not yell at you as viciously, but the drive to out-push your friends might motivate you just as well.

What are you waiting for?  Time to unleash those pythons!  Drop and give PUWF fifty!

"You're too pretty to count them on your own!"
(Image courtesy slate.com.)




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Get Your Recording Groove On For Free With New "Pro Tools First" App

Are you a rocker?  Do you rock out?  Or, for that matter, do you sing opera, hit jazz, bust rhymes, yodel, or otherwise create music?  If so, you've probably recorded or wanted to record your craft so it can be immortalized and shared worldwide.  Now, the most famous program in the business is going to help you do that...for free.

Live out your craziest rock 'n roll dreams...ok, except the app can't really help with the alien part.
(Image courtesy pavelche.deviantart.com.)

For fifteen years now, Avid's Pro Tools software has been the industry standard for digitally creating and altering recorded music.  With the ability to layer tracks with precision and add countless effects to a composition, it is a valuable (but pricey) means of making a masterpiece.  Now, according to engadget.com, Avid will be unveiling Pro Tools First, a free app that is a scaled-down version of their professional program.

The main differences between Pro Tools First and the regular Pro Tools is the capability for literally hundreds of tracks to be layered together in the same composition.  This essentially means that in the full version of Pro Tools, you could individually record an entire orchestra and chorus with each musician on their own track, then seamlessly blend them using the software.  Pro Tools First offers the capacity for 16 mono/stereo audio tracks, 16 MIDI tracks and 16 Instruments tracks for a maximum of 48 tracks, and 21 audio plug-in effects - all of which would be completely satisfying for many types of projects.

You don't want to worry about all this.  Just worry about the basics, and your song not being awful.
(Image courtesy effectszone.com.)

A detailed analysis of the comparisons and contrasts between the versions of Pro Tools can be found here on Avid's website.  While there is no score editor or video playback in the app version, such amenabilities as Elastic Time and Elastic Pitch are there to help you tune up your timing and tone.

A very useful feature of both Pro Tools and Pro Tools First is the ability to share your work with other artists, producers and engineers via cloud computing.  This enables a production to be worked on remotely, where updates to the work or wholly new sonic attempts can flow freely.  While space for such projects is limited on Pro Tools First (you get room for three songs), this could theoretically help to keep you on task.

Sign up to be notified when Pro Tools First drops...soon, you could be a superstar!  Or at least give yourself an objective viewpoint on how your shower singing and karaoke jams really sound...

ROCK ON!
(Image courtesy elitedaily.com.)

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Happy New Year!

2014 is quickly drawing to a close and aGupieWare's exclusive New Year's Eve Noise Maker app is available from the App Store for just $0.99.  The app plays numerous New Year's Eve sounds and songs. Irritate ears with the sound of a horn. Twist brains with the twirler sound. Perform an ensemble of the instruments above, or play the classic New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne." Bring the noise!
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New Year's Eve: Apps to Ring in the New Year

People all over the world are putting the final touches on their plans for tomorrow evening, to celebrate the end of the old year and the beginning of the next. Others, of course, are scrambling to get a plan together, and still others don't really give a damn about making plans at all. Whatever your plans might be, we've put together a list of a few apps that can help ring in the New Year:

The Times Square Ball App is the official app for the Times Square New Year's Eve celebrations in New York City. It has a countdown times, a live webcast from Times Square, Twitter integration and various info on the night's festivities.

California has put out a noteworthy app this year called DDVIP (Designated Driver VIP) that provides users with maps and guides to restaurants, bars and other venues that have special deals for all the designated drivers out there. (The designated drinkers already have more than their fair share of apps!)

London's Official City Guide app (on iTunes and Google Play) has tons of info on New Year's Eve celebrations in the city, including the New Year's Eve fireworks display and the New Year's Day parade.

The Sydney New Year's Eve app appears to be growing in popularity, along with the Australian metropolis's massive fireworks display, which is among the first seen around the world every year. The app contains tips and hints for getting the best view of the works, and provides video streams and other content as well.

The Berlin Philharmonic plays a special New Year's Eve concert every year, which they stream live on their website and on their dedicated app.

Finally, also check out aGupieWare's own New Year's Eve Noise Maker app, which is available from the App Store for just $0.99.  The app plays numerous New Year's Eve sounds and songs. Irritate ears with the sound of a horn. Twist brains with the twirler sound. Perform an ensemble of the instruments above, or play the classic New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne." Bring the noise!
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Amazon Holiday App Giveaway

Amazon is running an app giveaway for Christmas this year, with a free app bundle worth over $200. The bundle includes games, productivity tools, utilities, media applications, and more. One noteworthy app for all the Arduino and Raspberry Pi tinkerers out there is the ElectroDroid Pro which boasts a large collection of electronics-related tools and references.

And, with New Year's Eve coming up, also check out aGupieWare's own New Year's Eve Noise Maker app, which is available from the App Store for just $0.99.  The app plays numerous New Year's Eve sounds and songs. Irritate ears with the sound of a horn. Twist brains with the twirler sound. Perform an ensemble of the instruments above, or play the classic New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne." Bring the noise!
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Make Some Noise with Our New Year's Eve Noise Maker App

2014 is quickly drawing to a close with less than two weeks to go until the Gregorian calendar ticks off another year. And aGupieWare's exclusive New Year's Eve Noise Maker app is available from the App Store for just $0.99.  The app plays numerous New Year's Eve sounds and songs. Irritate ears with the sound of a horn. Twist brains with the twirler sound. Perform an ensemble of the instruments above, or play the classic New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne." Bring the noise!
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Go To The Dough: "Doughbot" App Finds Donut Shops For You

In such confusing and complex times, it can be difficult to find places in which to take solace.  Which is why it's very important that there is a new app geared exclusively to helping you find donuts.

Full of woe?  Look to the dough.
(Image courtesy mynorth.com.)

Known as (what else?) Doughbot, the pastry-seeking program will provide the nearest donut-slinging shop with a simple swipe.  More thorough directions including GPS, as well as reviews and photos, can be had with merely a tap.  Sweet sugary goodness is closer than you think.

Doughbot is available for iPod and iPad, and is not responsible for any excessive donut-based weight the user acquires.

First mission: locate this donut Valhalla.
(Image courtesy affotd.files.wordpress.com.)



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Snowed In? Bust Out With The New "Plowz & Mowz" App

'Tis the season to be jolly...and that probably means not having to worry about shoveling the piles of snow away from your door/garage/driveway/upstairs windows (if you live in someplace like Canada.)  Now, a new app can help not only with organizing snowplow providers, but also for cutting your lawn on that beautiful, beautiful day when it becomes springtime again.

You tried.  Now leave it to the pros.
(Image courtesy snowplowtalk.com.)

The Plowz & Mowz apps are straightforward and useful.  Simply schedule a plow or mowing appointment for a desired day with the available providers, then securely set up payments to make sure you don't end up looking like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining."  Realtime updates confirm that it's once again safe to navigate the ski slope that your driveway had become.

Nonprofessional snow shoveling is no joke.
(Image courtesy imgarcade.com.)

The Mowz element also includes leaf removal, just in case you never got a chance to get all that dead stuff off your lawn before the layers of snow fell.  No word on if you can act now and be ready for next spring.

Those who would like to lend their services as a provider of the plow/mow trade can learn more about signing up here.  Best of luck in your battle against the forces of nature!

Now doesn't that feel better?
(Image courtesy whyevolutionistrue.files.wordpress.com.)



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Multi-Partnered? Handle All Of Your Hookups With New "Poly Life" App

Is one love not enough for your life?  Do you prefer the company of numerous committed partners despite society saying that such relationships are unrealistic, inappropriate, or greedy?  Now, you can navigate the sexy sea of polyamory with a new app designed to provide simple solutions for keeping your complex love life in line.

If you can't even remember all their names, how are you going to remember whose date night it is?
(Image courtesy blogs.westword.com.)

According to fastcodesign.com, an anonymous developer has created the Poly Life app to focus on two important polyamorous goals:  meeting new people and scheduling when you can sleep with them.  Separate calendars can be created for each partner, and the "relationship manager" feature keeps careful tabs on who you deem an emotional partner, a physical partner, and any variations in between.


"No, don't shoot him with a heart-capturing arrow.  Just shoot him with a 'brain and also those hot biceps'-capturing arrow."
(Image courtesy blogs.ctiypages.com.)

The social networking element of the app is designed to allow poly couples or prospective poly enthusiasts to meet each other and discuss the nature of their lifestyle outside of the judgmental (or jealous) conventional social media outlets.  Shareable to-do lists, group texting options, meetup location ideas, and other important organizational elements are also included.  And with more than one lover, you'll likely need all of them.

The Poly Life is available for iOS, though unfortunately it is not polyamorously compatible with Android as well.  But if you need serious planning for your "polycule" circle of special friends, this is much more efficient than wearing name tags at an orgy.


And in a few years, perhaps you'll be able to use Poly Life to sync all of  your sex robots!
(Image courtesy standard.co.uk.)

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Your Smartphone Can Act As Your E-ID In Iowa Starting Next Year


Ever been caught without your driver's license and wished you could have some other critical bit of your physical property to cover for you?  Maybe something that you'd be carrying around every day?  Something like, say, your cellphone?

Seems legit.
(Image courtesy gizmodo.com.)

Now, thanks to new legislation in Iowa, drivers will be able to use their smartphones as credible license identification, starting in 2015.  According to theverge.com, the official license app will make your e-ID acceptable for police stops, airport trips, and other instances of age verification.

While it's not known what would happen if one were to lose the battery power to their "ID", or if other states would accept this app as valid, the idea is one that (if successful) could prove to be the forefront of change for many other states.  It's quick, it's easy, and it's usually right there in your pocket or hand anyway.  The only problem is dealing with who might set up fake license sites for the underage...

"It's okay officer, I'm not drunk, really...I puke all the time."
(Image courtesy party411.com.)

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The Truth Is Out There, Maybe Inside The New "Unbiased" App

Do you want answers, but can't trust your family/friends/fellow barflies to be objective?  Don't want to get trolled too much by asking on a major website?  No worries, now there's an app that serves the purpose of telling you (different versions of) the cold, hard truth.

The new "Unbiased" app, currently in beta testing, is simple and possibly very effective (depending on what kind of answers you are looking for.)  Simply type in a question and within 24 hours, a real person will respond with an unbiased answer regarding your predicament.  Bad at making choices?  Let an unbiased stranger handle it for you!

The answers might be blowing in the wind...but they're also somewhere in cyberspace.
(Image courtesy seocopywriting.com.)

Questions can concern any type of issue, and are submitted anonymously.  One can choose from pre-set categories (Sex, Parenting, Family, Health & Fitness, Romance, or Career/Education) or simply designate the topic as "Other."  Then, straight to your inbox, a solution!

Look for Unbiased to arrive soon at the App Store and Google Play, and ponder a problem no more!

But can you handle the truth?
(Image courtesy youtube.com.)

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If You Only Have Something Nice To Say, Say It On The Outpour App

Privacy on the internet is an important and valuable commodity, even for those who claim they have "nothing to hide."  Though arguments on privacy frequently focus on the idea of not having to worry if you're not doing anything wrong, what if you're interested in remaining private because you're doing something wildly (and possibly uncharacteristically) nice for someone?

It's not always as hard as you think it might be.  Even if it is, your discovery and notation of it increases its value.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)

Enter a new app, Outpour.  As reported by wired.com, Outpour abets those who would like to deluge someone in positive comments but can't quite say them to their face or their facebook.  When freedom of expression just needs a new method of expression, Outpour steps in so you can brighten someone's day with a nice note, sans your name.  The idea is to spur people to say something sweet that they might otherwise have left bottled up, like so much maple syrup that could never saturate your mental pancakes.

"GODDAMNIT I LOVE YOU SO MUCH."
(Image courtesy redtri.com.)

Yes, it could be used for evil, but the design is based against that.  One would have to specifically seek out their victim's profile and consciously ignore all other nice messages before violating the "social norm" of the site with their message.  For those who would buck that norm, their rantings can be deleted by the user, and the vitriol-spewer's account may be blocked.  Numerous blockings could result in a site-wide ban.  A unique phone number is required for sign-up, to prevent multiple accounts.

Outpour is available for iOS, with web and Android versions arriving next year.  So if you're not near enough to someone to send a drink down the bar, or if you're not close enough to know where to send them a card, Outpour could help bring some small, secret joy with just a few keystrokes.  How sweet.

Anonymous love is still love.
(Image courtesy shinyshiny.tv.)

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If No Words Can Express Your Deepest Feelings...How About Emojis?


Alright look, this is the future, and you don't need to be bound by petty things like the proper use of language or even the construction of complete sentences anymore.  In fact, thanks to a new app, Emojiary, you can create a whole chronicle of your day without ever typing a single word.

These are your new ABCS, children.
(Image courtesy genius.com.)

Based off of the current trend to express oneself in social media via nothing other than small, colorful, variously-mooded facial avatars, Emojiary is literally a diary created only from emojis.  This allows you to "remember your feelings", as their website says (they wrote that part in real words though.)

Except we don't remember feeling this weird...ever.
(Image courtesy thejournal.ie.)

Over time, one can chart the arcs of their malarkey and "learn the rhythm to your emotional ups and downs."  Because self-awareness is apparently now best served in facial cartoon form, they have invented and included new emojis for your chronicles.  Privacy is also paramount to the program, lest anyone else see your shocking secrets of frowny faces or blushy-kissy faces.

This is the emoji for people who have spent years perfecting their usage of language to express their ideas and emotions, as they now ponder the societal implications of Emojiary.
(Image courtesy blog.lawyers.net.)


If this seems jaw-droppingly inane and thoroughly counterproductive to thousands of years of humans attempting to artistically express themselves in thoughtfully written form, know that Emojiary has been created to help.  Their mission statement explains it all:
 
   "Emojiary is a product from All Tomorrows—a product studio working at the intersection of emotion and technology, focused on developing a constellation of products to support emotional well-being and help people unlock their potential. We’re on a mission to tap into the best that technology has to offer in service of supporting a kinder, more self-aware society. A brighter future starts with understanding what motivates you, what scares you, and where you’re being held back. We’re all about creating products that help you do that."

From another intersection of emotion and technology, we're saying this is kind of weird.  But if your self-awareness is best recognized through sending smileys, here is your new closest confidante.

Um...yay?
(Image courtesy huffingtonpost.com.)

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Be A Street-Art Snob With New "Public Art" Locator App

In the course of your adventures, it can be fun to see what rogue street artwork pops up along the way.  However, if you have trouble identifying artists' names from their purposefully-abstract spraypainted tags, or if you'd like to stroll to where more of their work can be found, there's now a way to appreciate more of their art - even if it never makes it into a museum.

Truth and beauty.
(Image courtesy thewgnews.com.)

The new Public Art app (available on the iTunes store) was created by art enthusiast Leonard Bogdonoff of New York City.  According to their description, the app "pulls geotagged grafitti and street art images from around the world" into a large collection which is updated daily.


It's worth walking an extra few blocks for things like this.
(Image courtesy gogoem.blogspot.com.)

Art adventurers can plot a stroll by determining works in their zip code, or by searching city names and addresses.  As the images are organized by location, the app can conveniently plot walking directions for you via Google Maps.  It's like a gallery in your own alley!

Check out Public Art app here and feast your eyes on some unauthorized surprises!

It may be a crime to create it, but it's not a crime to enjoy it.
(Image courtesy highsnobiety.com.)

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Google Play's Best Apps Of 2014: Music, Movies, and Multiculture


It's the time of the year for annual roundups of cool stuff to be listed, and Google Play has been diligent in their research.  Their list of Best Apps of 2014 has been released, with many useful and interesting elements for you to consider.

Not a long time ago, in a smartphone not far, far away...

The usual suspects are, of course, in appearance.  The music-identification app Shazam, the highly-informative TED app (relating the various and fascinating TED talks), and apps for popular services like Groupon, Uber, and OKCupid were favorites in 2014.

Language-learning apps proved an innovative and popular way to get your brain around another country's verbiage.  The Duolingo app teaches and tests on Spanish, French, Italian, German, and English language skills, while the Monki Chinese School app works for those who would venture further east.

For those who were more about entertainment than information, the Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, and Hulu apps made the list for your television viewing pleasure, while the Disney Movies app brought the animated movie magic.

The Economist "Espresso", Buzzfeed, Yahoo News, and the "breaking news" apps from CNN and the New York Times all delivered the news better than a paperboy thanks to their programs.

Music proved as important as ever in the smartphone app community, with Pandora, TuneIn Radio and IHeartRadio apps appearing on the list.  Other music-involved apps such as edjing (a "DJ Music Mixer Studio"), Equalizer+ (a sonic equalizing app), and musixmatch (a lyrics synching app for karaoke adventures) also made the cut.  Rock on!

And if you just need to drop everything and hit the road, there's the Anywayanyday app, to find you a flight or hotel somewhere special.  Or just somewhere different.  Why learn all this cool stuff about the world and not go see some of it?

Just remember to, you know, put down your smartphone for a little while when you're out there.
(Image courtesy pixgood.com.)



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New "Cicret" Bracelet Projects Your Phone-Screen Onto Your Flesh

The market for wearable technology has been steadily increasing, and whether you're rocking a FitBit or waiting for a full-scale neurosensory device, there's no denying that tech-to-go is now a glowing facet of modern life.  Now, a new invention may allow you to interface like never before: tapping a touchscreen that's projected onto your flesh.

That crashing sound is your productivity flying out the window.
(Image courtesy technabob.com.)

The Cicret bracelet, as reported by Gadgetify.com, uses long-range proximity sensors and a pico projector to illuminate your smartphone screen directly onto your forearm.  The "touchscreen" operates by the sensors determining when one has been intervened on by a finger, and data is sent accordingly.

While Cicret is still in the developmental phase, it has attracted a fair amount of attention.  An anonymizing, secure messenger app is also in production by the same company.  Visit their website to learn more about the bracelet or app, and donate if you feel this is something you'd like to rock on your wrist.  Apologies to those whose cool forearm tattoos precluded the development of this technology.

"Is there a glitch in the program or is my ink just awesome?"
(Image courtesy tattoomenideas.com.)

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Next Glass: This Scientifically-Accurate Alcohol-Selection App Knows You Like Your Bartender

Sure, you have a spectacular and discerning palate for craft beers and wine, but how can you tell if a beverage is good BEFORE you've even tried it?  Now, thanks to a new app that uses science to decide, you can get reviews of your booze before you even crack the bottle.

Next Glass is good news; use to choose your booze.
(Image courtesy businessinsider.com.)

According to the NY Daily News, the Next Glass app operates like a Pandora of libations, guessing which drinks you'd like after you upload photos of your preferences (both for and against.)  Using a "Genome Cellar" that has been developed by running tens of thousands of beverages through a mass spectrometer to determine their exact chemical composition, the app is able to project its findings by cross-referencing your prefs with their flavor profiles.

Trace Smith, Next Glass's COO, told the Huffington Post, "Each bottle that we run through the mass-spec, we get over 20,000 individual chemical attributes. We're looking at each of these bottles at a molecular level...We see the data of what they do and don't like, and based on that info, we see what other bottles they'll like."

One simply has to upload an image of a pondered-on drink's label, and a scored "review" from Next Glass will pop up, determining your compatibility.  You can also check out what your friends have been sipping on (and cheer or make fun of them for it appropriately) as well as post your own whiskey-steeped thoughts, or read reviews from other revelers.

Next Glass is free on iOS and Android platforms.  Cheers!

They put 30,000 bottles of booze through this, just so you can tell if it tastes good.  Give Next Glass a shot.
(Image courtesy science.howstuffworks.com.)

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Sky-High Five: New App Lets You Say Hi To An Astronaut


If you're a fan of the astro-adventurers who make their living by working on the International Space Station, a.k.a. possibly humanity's greatest collaborative scientific achievement, you've probably at some point wondered how they were doing up there.  Maybe it's because you feel a connection to their self-imposed earthly exile, maybe it's because you think they might be looking down over your city at the moment, maybe you just read a lot of our Space Station Sunday articles and feel a faraway friendship with these folks.  Whatever your motivation, the new Friends In Space app lets you chat with one of the human stars of space.

According to wired.com, the app was developed by Italian company Accurat and provides a host of spacewatching options.  You can track past, present, and future orbits of the ISS, chat with other stargazers, check out audio and video from the ISS, and see the astronauts' daily schedules.  But the coolest part is the connectivity:  when the ISS passes over your region, the app will alert you, and you can send a hello up to Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

"Like"!
(Image courtesy diregiovani.it.)

The idea was created when Accurat co-founder Giorgia Lupi was interacting on Twitter with Cristoforetti, who is currently serving as Italy's first female space station astronaut.  Cristoforetti, who has nearly 84,000 Twitter followers, agreed a social network for space might be a fun idea.  Lupi said, “She liked the idea of doing something that wasn’t scientific...something that reminded people on Earth that there is a human up there talking to them.”

Even though the astronauts can technically see all of us, it's nice for them to be reminded that we're still here supporting them.  And who knows what sort of fascinating posts may show up on this new space-based social media?  With lots of data available for fans and the whole world at the astronauts' hands, it will be interesting to see the daily grind from someone who is outside your normal social orbit.

They totally should have called it "Spacebook" though.
(Image courtesy Accurat.)


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Nothing But Net, Now ON The Net: New ShotTracker App Assesses & Shares Your B-Ball Skills

Think you've got game, but have no way to scientifically quantify it?  Now, you too can assess your skills like the pros with a new wristband that catches all your basketball glory (or goof-ups.)

The ShotTracker system, according to wired.com, is comprised of three elements:  one wrist-mounted sensor, one net-mounted sensor, and a mobile app that allows the sensors to share information via Bluetooth and concretely calculate whether you scored a shot or fell short.

Shot stats ASAP.  Let the future aid your freethrows.
(Image courtesy vimeo.com.)

The system includes a wristband and a compression sleeve for wearing the diminutive wrist sensor at your preferred level of comfort.  For $150, it will ship in early December, well in time for any Xmas-party shootouts.  The durable devices are waterproof and weatherproof, and if you feel like waiting for version 2.0 in mid-2015, it will be also able to calculate your exact location on the court.

ShotTracker includes a sharing program where you can compare dunks and drops with other users, and also a list of workouts so you can bring your game up to shareable snuff.  Coaches can also add their own workout plans, to perfect players even outside of practice.

Whether you're trying to make the team or just trying to tell if your old skills are still on point, the ShotTracker has a little something for every kind of hoop dreamer.  As the ShotTracker website rightly explains, "You can't improve what you don't measure."

It's like having these guys in your smartphone!
(Image courtesy redeapp.com.)

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Pay Your Dues As You Snooze: New Alarm Clock App Makes Charity Donations Every Time You Hit "Snooze"

Do you hate leaving the warm embrace of your bed in the morning?  Do you hit the snooze button enough to prolong your beauty sleep by a matter of hours?  Now, put your laziness to work, with a new app that donates money to charity every time you choose to snooze.

"I will give you $100 to shut up and let me sleep until it's dark out again."
(Image courtesy solent.photoshelter.com.)

iCukoo, according to the Daily Mail, is a new app that functions as an alarm clock and donation device.  Just select your charity of choice, the usual duration of your snooze-nap, and the amount you're willing to donate rather than get up and be a productive human being.

The app currently only donates to charities in the UK, but the list is a nicely diverse one.  Parkinson's UK, National Literacy Trust, Starlight (a support group for seriously ill children), Prostate Cancer UK and Maggie's (a cancer charity) can all benefit from your extended sweet dreams.

iCukoo is currently available on iOS and is in development for Android devices, so soon all types of smartphone users can enjoy their snooze as a donation accrues.

Just don't do to your smartphone what you did to your last obnoxious alarm clock.
(Image courtesy rediscoverthemagic.com.)

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No Posting While Toasting: New "Drunk Locker" App Blocks Your Social Media During Drinking Time


Anyone with social media, a smartphone, and a proclivity for partying knows this story.  You're out with friends, sipping a few libations, and suddenly the next morning there's love notes to tequila and photos of you attempting to twerk all over your facebook feed.  If you're the sort who'd rather outsource self-control to a technological bouncer, you need the new Drunk Locker app.

"I just told Facebook that the next three people who come party with us can do shots out of my cleavage...HAHAHA AWESOME IDEA, RIGHT?"
(Image courtesy gettyimages.com.)

Drunk Locker, according to its creators, acts as a "binary conscience" during your benders.  Simply put, it prevents you from accessing six major social media interfaces while you're 'faced.  Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are all strictly prohibited for use while juiced. A predetermined time selection (from one to ten hours) allows for your sober judgement to keep you out of social harm's way, and nothing (even uninstalling the app) will stop Drunk Locker from that mission.

Drunk Locker is free, so you'll still have plenty of beer money.  And then you might need Drunk Locker more than ever.

SHUT UP WINE, YOU'RE WRONG.
I'm sorry I yelled at you.
I love you.
Let's just send a smiley face...
(Image courtesy theluxuryspot.com.)

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New "Tinder For Jobs" App: Score A Job As Easily As A Date?


If you're willing to meet strangers via an app to make your life better via intimate encounters, why not also meet strangers who'll make your life better by giving you a job?  That's the idea behind a new app that hails itself as "Tinder for jobs."

The nspHIRE app (pronounced "inspire") was recently created by a Chicago startup, amid a slew of other Tinder-type notions.  The app uses LinkedIn information to help users create a profile that is essentially their resume.  Employers can then contact desirable candidates and chat with them for $.99.

"Think it's worth a buck to laugh at this nerd's 'references'?"
(Image courtesy ceiainc.org.)

The "swiping right" acceptance that is inherent to the original Tinder app works here too.  Prospective employees "swipe right" on jobs they are interested in, and are notified of a match if employers swipe right on them as well.  Anonymous posting abilities allow for you to seek a new gig on the down-low.  An in-app chat service allows for communication.

As reported by chicagoinno.streetwise.co, nspHire co-founder Rasheen Carbin explained, "The idea of mutual match was very attractive to us because it solves the biggest problem with job boards. If you’re a candidate, when you press submit, you have no idea what happens. For the most part whoever that goes to, that person is probably never going to look at your resume. And if they do, maybe they’ll give it 6 seconds."

Thus, if employers are willing to pay $.99 to look at you, perhaps they truly feel you're more worth their while.  Some 500 downloads for the Android version of the app have already taken place, with the majority being jobseekers.  The iOS version, to be released soon, will incorporate a projected initial 20,000 workers and 2,000 employers.

Just don't confuse it with actual Tinder, or your job could get weird.
(Image courtesy huffingtonpost.co.uk.)

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New Earthquake Evasion App "QuakeAlert" To Save You From Seismic Shakes

Over 1,400 earthquakes have occurred in the last month, some with extremely devastating results.  Now, a firm called Early Warning Labs is set to give those in afflicted areas a heads-up via a new smartphone app.

As reported by the Daily Mail, the QuakeAlert system was created in a partnership between the U.S. government and experts in the seismology field.  QuakeAlert works twofold, with a warning sent via app to the user's smartphone, but also to various alarms one could place in their home or office.  The alarms give a countdown of probable "safe" time left, allowing people to plan their escapes from quake zones and tend to safety measures like disabling vulnerable gas lines.

Your travel plans might need all the advance notice possible.
(Image courtesy crisisboom.files.wordpress.com.)

The app grades the impending quakes on brutality from light to severe, so one knows what to expect.  Hints regarding all manner of earthquake safety are also issued.  Their stated mission is to "improve, expand, and lower the costs of the existing earthquake early warning systems."

You will also now have a leg up on looters / emergency-supply gatherers.
(Image courtesy discovermagazine.com.)

The app works by taking data from a network of seismic sensors.  The sensors judge the early earthquake's "P-wave" activity, enabling emergency warnings to preclude the major event.  Location, magnitude, and overall reach of the earthquake are then sent to the user.  A second warning is sent before the next phase, a.k.a "S-wave" activity (where much of the shaking and damages occur.)

Overall the network will hopefully help to save lives and instill a better sense of planning during these frenetic events.  The app itself is free, though the alarms will cost $100 each.  Still, it's a small price to pay for peace of mind when pieces of the earth pay you no mind.

Education for better evasion.
(Image courtesy thompsonreuters.com.)



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Step Up Your Art With New E-Traces Dance Shoes

As technology is accepted more and more into our daily lives, the effect it can have on one of our most elemental fascinations - artwork - becomes increasingly intriguing.  Now, thanks to one company's innovative new ballet shoes, the worlds of dance and abstract visual art have got a new way to tango. 

Like shoe-shaped Sharpies for your feet.
(Image courtesy cargocollective.com.)

According to makezine.com, designer Lesia Trubat Gonzalez's new project, E-traces, follows your footwork and turns it into artwork.  A Lilypad Arduino-based sensor takes pressure data from a dancer's feet, sending data from the customized ballet shoes to a computer program.  This then transforms the various movements into brushstroke-esque imagery.  The app allows customization and even graph readout of the data.

The technological palette.
(Image courtesy cargocollective.com.)

The technology could be used to assess one's performance (particularly in comparison to other dancers' graphical results) as well as to create a new form of visual art.  Can calligraphy be choreographed?  Dance a mile in these shoes and see what strokes of artistic genius appear.

Don't just wait for the dancefloor to change colors as your boogie!  Use E-Traces to add to the art!
(Image courtesy 2.bp.blogspot.com.)


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Become An Instant Connoisseur With "Vivino" Wine App

Want to imbibe wine like you're fancy, but have no idea where to begin?  No worries, with the new Vivino app, you'll be able to find the greatest of the grapes, using only your smartphone.

Simply upload a photo of any wine label that strikes your fancy, and you'll be able to immediately access pertinent information, reviews, ratings, and price guides.  With over 6 million users contributing feedback using a 1 to 5 star ratings scale, you can get a good feel for what's smooth sipping versus swill.

While the old-fashioned way of just trying everything also works, with Vivino there's a way to help you accurately REMEMBER your favorites.
(Image courtesy wikimedia.org.)

As reported by winderlusting.com, Vivino can also sync with your social media.  Linking with Facebook, Twitter, Google, and more, you can interact with other oenophiles who may share your same tastes.  This also enables the casual drinker to follow more seasoned sommeliers who can offer a wide variety of personal experience.

The Vivino app is free and works on all iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones.  A $4.99 upgrade is also available for those who want to track sizeable selections for their cellar.  So whether you're a collector or just wondering about what you're housing down at happy hour, Vivino can help you perfect your palate.

Seriously, you can do better than this.
(Image courtesy iwishilikedflan.com.)

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The Brewer Of The Future: App-Controlled Coffee Machine To Brew For You

Do you ever have one of those days when it's so hard to get out of bed you just wish Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks would deliver coffee straight to you?  Hate getting up, even though it's the only way you'll get your delicious coffee a'roasting?  Now, a new invention may make it easier to lure you to the land of the living with the scent of freshly-brewed coffee, just the way you like it.  All it takes is this fancy new coffee machine and the attendant app!

According to engadget.com, the Bruvelo is a new high-end coffee maker currently under development with kickstarter.  Not just a simple mud-slinger, the Bruvelo operates by app to grind beans to your specs, mix them with your preferred ratio of in-machine filtered water, and deliver a beautifully-brewed cup after cooking to precisely 199 degrees Fahrenheit.  All you have to do is hit a few icons on your smartphone, presumably the ones immediately after your fifth swipe at the snooze button.

This machine is way more capable of complex tasks in the morning than you are.  Let it handle things.
(Image courtesy crowdfundinsider.com.)


Brew strength can be programmed into the caffeine computer, or decided from your preconfigured "flavor profiles" of Robust, Balanced, or Delicate (hahaha, that's adorable.  Hurry up with a custom Double Robust, coffee robot.)  All you need to do is remember to leave your mug under the nozzle the night before, and you can be a barista from your bed.  Voila!  Your good day is merely a stagger to the kitchen away.

Bruvelo needs $150,000 on kickstarter to make this caffeine dream a reality.  If you pledge $300, your sweet dreams could be waking up to brewed beans by as early as next June.  A little computerized coffee concierge seems like a good start to the next level of the future.

Now if only technology can get the mug to walk to your bedside...
(Image courtesy jayce-o.blogspot.com.)


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Trick Or Treat Or Treetr? New App Handles Your Halloween

Can a classic holiday tradition be improved with a little bit of futurism?  That may be the case tonight when a new candy-canvassing app, Treetr, gives you a battle plan to NOT hit the streets.  That's right, all the fun and freakiness of Halloween night ramblings can now be outsourced, via an app.

It's like having your own personal candy concierge.
(Image courtesy twitter.com.)


As parodied by vice.com, the Treetr app (available for iPhone and Android) is "Halloween, simplified."  A network of costumed Treetr delivery men will tour the town in your place, gathering goodies and delivering them back to you for a fee.

According to Treetr's Twitter (@TreetrApp),  over 10,000 delivery-ghouls nationwide will suit up to snag you sweets.  No word on whether they'll make sure there's no razor blades or poison in the stash, and no, you cannot tip them by pawning off all your unwanted Whoppers and Raisinets.

So if you want to stay extremely, boringly, lazily safe this Halloween, hire out the haunting via Tweetr.  For every other spooky celebrant on the streets, best of luck and enjoy your sugary stroll!

Just remember what happens to people who get too greedy for candy, Treetr users!
(Image courtesy pinterest.com.)

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New App Scores You Great Restaurant Reservations (But Finding A Dinner Date Is Still Up To You)

There are a host of concierge-esque apps out there already, but sometimes you just want the one that's the butler with the black tie.  Now, a new app that has launched in New York, Boston, and L.A. is able to score you seats at the hottest eateries...all you have to do is be a little flexible.

According to travelandleisure.com, the new Reserve app was created by the inventors of Uber, to revolutionize your dining experience in much the same way they have turned random drivers into your personal chauffeurs.  Simply enter the desired reservation time, date, and party size, and Reserve scans for spots that'll satisfy.  Results that interest you will be updated in availability by text.

Reserve's ability to infiltrate the upper echelon of excellent eateries is aided by their request that your timeframe be somewhat flexible.  If you enter the option that you'd like to dine between 8 and 9:30 PM, the restaurants can better plan how to seat and serve all of their patrons, and can anticipate how to react most efficiently when they can assemble the best possible schedule.  This allows you to get into top-shelf spots without worrying that you're not cool enough to dine at the "right" time...they've got your info, and they'll let you know.

Helpful photos let you decide by decor, if that's more your style.
(Image courtesy reserve.com.)

You can even use Reserve to handle your bill beforehand, if you don't want there to be a fight over the check.  Credit card and tipping info can all be entered during the booking process, and a summary (along with a $5 booking fee) will simply be sent to your smartphone after the meal.  Things like your profile picture can help elevate service immediately onsite (you could feel like a pseudo-celebrity when you're recognized on arrival.)

Reserve is available for download here.  Other cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., and London are soon to be added to their well-curated culinary list.  Let technology worry about handling your reservations.  You just go handle the decoding of what you're going to wear.  And talk about.  And drink.  And food items to pronounce correctly in French...


You only want the best seats at the finest restaurant if you're going to indulge in serious culinary craziness, like fugu sushi.
(Image courtesy radiotimes.com.)

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Can't Do Math? With This App, Your Problem Is Solved

Even some of the world's most intelligent minds balk when it comes to making numbers work.  Math equations filled with letters and strange symbols just don't add up for some people.  Now, for the numerically-challenged, a new app has been invented to be your own personal number-cruncher.

According to einfolive.com, the PhotoMath app works by analyzing a picture that you take of a printed equation.  It then shows you step-by-step how the equation should be properly dealt with, demystifying the mathematical process so that the user eventually may be able to apply the same principles sans smartphone.

For those without "A Beautiful Mind", now you can fake it.  Russell Crowe not included.
(Image courtesy theguardian.com.)

The process PhotoMath uses is called Optical Character Recognition.  First, it scans the desired text.  Then, it filters and enhances the equation's text, removing anything not required for the solution by extracting the equation's features.  Finally, the characters will be recognized by the app, and solved as you follow along.

The app works on a variety of math problems, including regular arithmetic, fractals, decimals, exponents, roots, and simple linear equations.  It cannot currently solve equations that are hand-written, but is able to deduce text coherently from standard printed pages.

PhotoMath works on Windows and iOS phones, with an Android version launching in 2015.  Ironically, the PhotoApp's amazingly useful features were created by MicroBlink, who were otherwise involved in developing photo recognition software that many malign as invasive and creepy when used for surveillance.  At least one good thing has come out of this cyber-scrutiny:  the ability to teach a useful life skill in simple steps.  If only all of technology's evil plans had such a good side.

It's basically this, except inside your phone.
(Image courtesy theoldrobots.com.)

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Fall's Hot New Look: Antisurveillance "Dazzle" Camouflage

Camouflage takes many forms, some in plain sight, some you've maybe never even spotted (by design.)  In today's world of ever-encroaching surveillance, one can't be too careful around cameras, both overt and hidden.  If you're trying to keep your face out of the electronic archives, one way to dodge the documentation is to use some good old-fashioned dazzle camouflage. 


In WWI, battleships were painted like hipsters (shipsters?) to confuse enemies.

Based on the premise of actual military warpaint used on planes and boats, CV Dazzle is a new means to break lines of vision while simultaneously breaking your monotonous old look.  According to the CV Dazzle website, "Since facial-recognition algorithms rely on the identification and spatial relationship of key facial features, like symmetry and tonal contours, one can block detection by creating an “anti-face."  Avant-garde, Surrealist, and cubist designs all contribute to the various elements of CV Dazzle.  



Arts AND sciences!
(Image courtesy cvdazzle.com.)

Some ideas for your new radar-revolting look could include:

-Long, facially-obscuring bangs in a variety of lengths and colors

-Facepaint including large "pixel"-style blocks 

-makeup that contrasts with your skin tone and doesn't enhance specific features

-obscuring the nose bridge (a key indicator in facial recognition software)

-obscuring the size and shape of the head

-covering or altering the perceived appearance of the eyes (size, shape, color)

-developing an overall asymmetrical facial presentation

The CV website offers styling templates and a host of look ideas to ponder, if you need to take your anti-surveillance look to the next level.  Would a mask also work?  Sure, but you might look cooler with blue bangs.

Of course, if you're not inclined to wear facepaint or weird bangs, you can always just anonymize your face in photos with the Face Dazzler app.  It'll take you right out the running for all the "tags" you don't need to be found in.  Privacy never looked so pretty!



Dazzle camouflage still works in modern times, as shown by this Dazzle-inspired yacht painted by Jeff Koons.  Yes, that is a real boat.


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Grumpy Cat Hates Telling You About The Weather Via Your Smartphone. And Everything Else.

You can set your phone or computer's desktop to an image of a funny feline.  Chances are you've seen a few amusing animal videos or GIFs as well during the course of your existence - maybe a lot, if you work in an office and get bored frequently.  So it comes as no surprise that now even the most mundane search of your day - that of meteorological news - can also be customized with a cat.  And who better than the internet's most famous one?

According to thedailybeast.com, the free Weatherkitty or Weatherpuppy app for your phone can feature up-to-date weather information superimposed on pictures of various furry friends, though the species options are currently limited to cats and dogs.  Your own pet can feature, or you can upgrade for $1.99 to be graced daily with the sourpuss hilarity of Grumpy Cat, scowling and serenading you with stats on snow or sunshine.

Bonus: reflections on your own mortality!
(Image courtesy 929nin.com.)

This isn't merely another meme.  The information included in the Weatherkitty or Weatherpuppy app includes a daily forecast with weather changes broken down by the hour, a weekly prediction of upcoming elemental events, wind speed, precipitation, atmospheric pressure, visibility, and highs and lows.  It's comprehensive.  Plus cats.

Developers Suraj Hemnani and Shiv Takhar are glad their app has made people's days a little brighter, even if it's dark out.  Hemnani explained, “We are social beings and we spend so much time alone, always working. So, we appreciate the company of dogs and cats very much—they have a way of bringing us back to the present moment and relaxing us.”

Grumpy Cat would perhaps be disappointed to learn he's considered "relaxing"...better put him to work as your own personal weather reporter.  Who else is better to tell you that it's raining out than a cat who'll be happy to tell you something worse?

Correct yet again, Grumpy Cat.  Well, at least its sunny out.
(Image courtesy blogs.miaminewtimes.com.) 

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Sick Tech: New "EbolApp" Tracks The Outbreak Via Your Smartphone

Even during a season when scary stories are the norm, the ever-expanding evil of the Ebola virus seems superlatively spooky.  With new cases escalating both in Africa and various places in the Western world, it seems that the contagion could soon be worthy of worry.  Worst of all, it might even be poised to affect chocolate prices worldwide (THE HORROR!)  So what can you do to make sure you steer clear of this vicious virus?

Thanks to suitapps.com, there is now an Ebola-tracking app that can keep you aware of any outbreaks around you.  The EbolApp features an interactive map indicating the known Ebola cases around the world, as well as realtime updates and notifications when a new case is confirmed.  Various news updates concerning the virus are also offered.

We're not saying to freak out.  Just be careful if you're living or working in an area that might harbor contaminants.  No one wants to become a REAL plague victim for Halloween.

Let's not have this become the hot new winter fashion trend.  Use EbolApp to stay away from the sickness.
(Image courtesy wunc.org.)

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No Funds, My Babe, No Funds: Money Management Apps To Streamline Your Spending (And Stop Your Stress)

Keeping track of your finances takes analysis and effort.  With all of the various things to buy and ways to buy them these days, it can be difficult to properly budget for all of your wants and needs (while still managing to save enough to keep the lights on.)  Now, a money management app may be just what you need to keep from tanking all of your banking.

Designed to make you acutely aware of your expenditures as well as the effectiveness of your savings, a money management app is kind of like a calorie/exercise tracker for your financial fitness.  Through an app's smartphone interface, the user enters all of their transactions, providing them with an accurate (sometimes frighteningly so) account of what's going in and out of your bank account.  This can enable better budgeting, bank account balancing, and more.

In the modern culture of "buy now, pay later", we can sometimes forget how quickly expenses add up.  Loans, mortgages, bills, and incidentals shouldn't be juggled so much as they should be justly dealt with.  According to dailyworth.com, there are a number of good apps tailored to a variety of spending situations.

Expensify is one app that allows for the photographing and easy categorization of receipts, perfect for creating a professional expense report with little hassle.  For freelancers, a "Track Distance" and "Track Time" option clocks how much you've traveled and can bill additionally for your boutique pug grooming business or artisanal hedge sculpting or whatever.  Tags for "billable" or "reimbursable" goods and services factor into your financial statements.

Check is an app that deals exclusively with your bills, consolidating them onto one manageable place and using your credit or debit card to deal with each as needed (so no more forgetting to call the cable company until your internet zaps out.)  A pie chart and alerts show you your current bank balance, impending bills, and even a warning if you spend enough to endanger your credit (that tenth round of top-shelf tequila at the fancy bar is no excuse anymore...you'll know what's up when your funds are down.)

For those little expenditures that add up surprisingly quickly, there is the Daily Cost app, to help you factor exactly how many times a week you can afford that fancy coffee before it means taking cash out of your kid's college fund (it's really rather fast, especially during Pumpkin Spice season.)  The "simple, elegant, and intuitive" interface uses spool-style counter keeps track of items, days, and cost, and it is available in a host of international currencies.

Another popular option for cash control is the Mint personal finance app, which combines many of the above apps' features (such as alerts, budgets, and visible cash flow indicators) as well as the ability to join multiple accounts (say, for a married couple, or a very protective trust fund benefactor.)  Checking, savings, credit, and investments can all be handled here.  They offer "bank-level security" and show how it might be possible to save your way solvent.

Keeping your cash-flow woes in check is now easily handled by apps.  You'll understand your own budget better, and maybe surprise yourself with what could be eliminated from your supposed "needs."  Fill your wallet and chill your worries with some simple smartphone software.


Money management apps make it easy to decide whether you get Manolos or meals this month.
(Image courtesy fromcouture.com.)





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iRideNYC: A Big App For The Big Apple

6,000 miles of roads.  12,750 miles of sidewalks.  6,000 shared bikes, and countless more independent ones.  1.7 billion subway rides a year.  And cabs...well, cabs EVERYWHERE.  Transportation availability in New York City is no joke, and now thanks to a new app, it will be no mystery.

As reported by gcn.com, the open-sourced app iRideNYC aims to decode every aspect of travelling in NYC, with realtime information updates from the NYC Department of Transportation aiding the actual (not just scheduled) needs of everyone, from tourist to townie.

Cordell Schachter, chief technology officer at NYCDOT, explained, “It recreates the experience of a local app, but you always have up-to-the minute information."

Issues like construction or train maintenance interference would be factored into your results, as well as smaller-scale options like CitiBike locations and availability. iRideNYC will even suggest interesting nearby sights, and the feasibility of walking to them (which, in NYC, is an often an even better adventure than using mechanized transport.)

Based off of a mobile development platform that the NYCDOT used to document damage during the brutal aftermath of 2012's Hurricane Sandy, the app updates every 30 seconds. Think you can outbike any bus in town? Now you can know for sure...and also catch some cool sightseeing along the way!

Find your place amidst the millions right here.

"Hurry the hell up, I'm about to beat my record for racing the express train."

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Text On Fire: New "FireChat" Service Connects Phones Under The Radar

While not stirring up a lot of coverage in the Western world, the current pro-Democracy protests in China are benefiting humanity with more than just a shot at free speech. Namely, in conjunction with a new texting service, now they're showing how many people can use their free speech, internet-free.

According to the independent.co.uk, FireChat is an iOS-based text messaging service that is able to operate without cellphone or internet service, making it ideal for revolutionaries in communications-restricted countries. FireChat uses Bluetooth to create "mesh networking" with other phones in the area, strengthening the connection and allowing for discussion.

FireChat does not aim to be the exclusive domain of the repressed, saying it could be useful "on the beach or in the subway, at a big game or a trade show, camping in the wild or at a concert, or even travelling abroad, simply fire up the app with a friend or two and find out who else is there."

Current numbers suggest that already tens of thousands of people are using the FireChat app at any given time, so fire it up and see what's up.

Hear hear.  (Students on the streets of Hong Kong, protesting and pro-texting.  Image courtesy lesechos.fr.)

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Snuggle Up To New Hug-Hunting App, "Cuddlr"

Aw, there there. Does someone need a hug? Well, now instead of dealing with the peskiness of generating affection from any conventional source, a new app will help you get held, nicely (but nonsexually.)

According to techanalyzer.net, the new app Cuddlr is "a location-based social-meeting app for cuddling." You read that right. Not relationships, not hookups, just hugs. It requires users to be 17+ (to presumably prevent statutory hugging) and is currently available on iOS (their Android release is set for 2015.)

Creator Charlie Williams feels that he is fulfilling a yet-unexplored social connection gap, explaining, "We don’t have a space for this in our culture...there’s not a way to have physical affection that isn’t tied to sex. I think there should be. Not with any random person on the street, but perhaps with some carefully selected random people? Definitely."

Prospective embracers can try out "test cuddles" to see if they're down with random snugglers, and frequent users can earn "reputation points" for the security and quality of their hugs.

Shh, there there. Feel better now? Oh ok, one more time. That's right, hug it out. It'll be okay.

Don't get so desperate that you end up hugging tigers.  Use Cuddlr instead.



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New "Wakie" App To Frighten You Awake

Some people just need that extra nudge to get themselves out of bed in the morning (or midafternoon...we understand.)  Now, a new app is available to outsource your alarm clock and force you to interact your way awake.

According to metro.co.uk, the "Wakie" app was created by Armenian entrepreneur Hrachik Adjamian, and it operates on a simple principal: getting talked awake. It sounds nightmarish to some, but it might be just the thing to motivate a particularly recalcitrant rester.  The Wakie app has a random stranger call you at the desired time, and say...something, anything...to get you awake.

Could it be creepy?  Sure.  But Wakie is already popular in Russia, and that means while you're waking up in America, you could have some happy-hour vodka-infused Russian on the other side of the world barking you awake.

Wakie not only helps you return the favor by searching for "Sleepies" you can rouse, but it also tries to match you up with someone of the opposite gender.  You know, so you can jump right into that "get the hell out of bed and get to work goddamnit" stage of the relationship.

You can download Wakie here.  Sweet dreams!

The wrong side of the bed has gone worldwide.

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E-Pubcrawl: Two Alcohol Apps To Slake Your Thirst

In New York City and the Hamptons, there always seems to be a party going on somewhere. Why not make it your place? Now, thanks to a new app, you won't even have to hit the liquor store.

Meet Minibar Delivery, a delivery service that promises alcohol delivery in Manhattan (under 96th street) and some of Brooklyn, all inside an hour. Their app is available for iOS and Android, meaning you could bypass the after-work happy hour gauntlet entirely, send an alcohol order from the subway and be ready to meet your whiskey deliveryman by the time you got home. Sure, it might not be as fun as hitting up your nearest pub, but if you need extra party supplies and simply can't eschew your hosting duties, now the traditional "beer run" runs to you!

Minibar Delivery's cofounder Lara Crystal told venturebeat.com, “Basically we saw a huge market that has not been successfully brought online...A lot of people have loyalty to spirits but not necessarily to brands.” Your loyalty plus their legwork equals good times.

The Minibar Delivery service is not to be confused with the app of the near-same name, which offers excellent bartending advice ("mixology" for you fancy-tini drinkers.) This Minibar app ("A world of cocktails in your pocket") provides detailed recipes including mixing techniques, proper glassware instructions, and even facts about the origins and ingredients of the cocktails. Rated a "new and noteworthy" 5 stars from Macintosh and said to "outclass every other cocktail app in every aspect" by Beautiful Pixels, the Minibar can give you ideas for everything from punches for parties to a classic cocktail to try the next time you get bored at your local bar.

Cheers!

Don't want anyone catching you buying cupcake-flavored vodka?  Problem solved.  

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New Reddit AMA App: Learn From The Best

The popular news-aggregate website Reddit is known for offering a diverse array of topics to discuss and information to obtain.  Now, one of their most interesting and engaging features, Ask Me Anything (AMA), has been released in app form.

The premise of AMA is simple:  celebrities and important people of all ilk are invited to answer questions from the website's 3 million-odd usual users, who are identified only by their chosen username.  Other visitors, or "lurkers", are free to watch the dialogue unfold, but can only ask or respond to material by creating a username.  As for the subjects of these discussions, Reddit has hosted everyone from astronauts to video game developers, musicians to politicians.

According to the app download site, users can search past AMAs, stay informed on new ones, contribute material when an "ACTIVE" icon alerts as to a fresh installation, and of course use the site's standard upvote and downvote buttons to promote or disparage content.

So if you've ever wanted to know something seriously special about a celebrity, or tell an author how much their work meant to you, or just ask an important person you find interesting what their favorite type of snack food is, now the power is in the palm of your hand.  Use it wisely...the downvote brigades can be merciless.

Caution:  may be ridiculously addictive.

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E-bola: Watch Virus's Developments With This App

With thousands of cases and escalating confirmed deaths attributed to the Ebola virus in Africa right now, it has become important to keep tabs on the spread of disease, preferably from as far away as possible. The CDC has stepped in to help, creating a new category in their Epi Info app to help monitor the outbreak.

As reported by gcn.com, the "contact tracing" ability of the app makes it possible to deduce where certain carriers of the disease have caused it to spread, allowing for others to avoid possible danger zones. The viral hemorrhagic fever (VHF) app creates databases of crucial patient information, such as names, locations, ages, gender, and the especially important "dead or alive" status. Those classified as "sick and isolated" with no further information are also considered cases. Aid workers can then use the data to visualize and assess VHF problems.

Once downloaded, the app is functional sans internet connection, which is useful in the many remote areas in which the disease flourishes. The Epi Info app also can be used to track other epidemics, such as Marburg, Crimean-Congo, Rift Valley, and Lassa. Hopefully, the current Ebola crisis can be partially mitigated in thanks to this careful observational/informational aid, in conjunction with dedicated workers.

“The bottom line with Ebola is we know how to stop it: traditional public health,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Find patients, isolate and care for them; find their contacts; educate people; and strictly follow infection control in hospitals. Do those things with meticulous care and Ebola goes away.”

Maybe head to any other continent for vacation this year.

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Tutorial: A Simple iOS Stopwatch App in Swift

In this tutorial, we will create a single view iOS application using the Swift programming language. The tutorial will provide some insight into basic usage of the Apple Xcode integrated programming environment, as well as the model/view/controller software architectural pattern. Our target audience are people who have some prior experience in application development and programming but who are relatively new to Xcode and iOS development. The project goal is to build a simple iOS stopwatch-style timer application designed for iPhone using Swift.

The app will contain two labels (one for our title and one for our numeric timer display), and two buttons (a start/stop button, and a reset button). We will first lay out our main view, which will contain these elements and then use the interface builder (i.e. storyboard) to hook our view into the controller (IBOutlets and IBActions). Finally, we will turn to the business logic of the app. In the end, we will have two imports and a view controller. We will add three methods to the view controller class: two actions methods and one helper method. The tutorial will be broken down into a series of just over thirty steps with screen caps to provide a quick visual aid.

The first thing you'll need to do, if you haven't already, is download the latest version of Xcode 6 (currently in beta as of this writing). If you are completely new to Xcode, you may find it difficult to navigate the interface. There are tons of great guides to Xcode that can be found online such as this one.

On initial startup, Xcode will present you with its ‘Welcome’ screen and offer several options. Select the “Create a New Xcode Project” panel from the window (see figure 1). If it does not present you with this screen, select File->New->Project from the menu bar.

Figure 1
On the following screen, select “Single View Application” and press the “Next” button (see figure 2).

Figure 2

Next, choose the options for your new project (see figure 3) and fill in the necessary fields as you wish, ex. project and organization names, and select “iPhone” as the device, since we are creating an iPhone app.

Figure 3
The following screen will then prompt you to provide a destination directory for your project. I like to keep current projects in a folder on my Desktop. There is also an option on the bottom of the screen to place your project under source control. If you don’t know what source control is or how to use it, then simply uncheck this box. (However, it is highly recommended that you invest some time learning about source control systems such as git.) Click “Next” once you have made your selections.

Your project should have opened to a screen similar to the one in figure 4.

Figure 4
From the device dropdown menu, located in the upper left corner, select iPhone 5s (notice also the other options that could have been selected here if we were planning to create a different app). See figure 5.

Figure 5

Now that we have our project’s initial setup completed, let’s get down to business! From the Project Navigator, select the Main.storyboard file. See figure 6.

Figure 6
In the Storyboard, select any view, then go to the File Inspector in Xcode’s right panel. Uncheck “Use Size Classes”, and you will be asked to keep size class data for: iPhone/iPad. Then click the “Disable Size Classes” button. Doing this will make the storyboard’s view automatically size with the selected device. See figure 7.

Figure 7
In the top left corner of Xcode, locate the “Play” button and press it to build and run your project for the first time. See figure 8. Upon a successful first launch of the project, you should see something like the image in figure 9, an iOS simulator. If you get any errors and the project does not build correctly, read the error report(s) carefully and see if you can troubleshoot the problem.


From the Object Library toward the bottom of the right panel in Xcode, select Label (figure 10) and then drag and drop it at the left style guide, but vertically centered into your single storyboard scene/view. See figure 11. The style guides are temporary visual placement lines that appear as you position view elements into your scene. This label will eventually provide the numeric display of our running stopwatch.

Figure 10

Figure 11

In order to make the label wider, we will select and drag the trailing edge of our Label element to the right of your scene until it meets the right most style guide. See figure 12.

Figure 12
From the Attribute Inspector panel in the right panel of Xcode, toggle the text alignment to center so our text appears in the middle of the label. See figure 13.

Figure 13
Go back to the object library and place two Buttons equally spaced apart about midway between the label and the bottom of our scene. See figure 14. These will function as our reset button and our start/stop button on the stopwatch.

Figure 14

From the Size Inspector in Xcode’s right panel change, the width of each button to 60 points. See figure 14.1.

Figure 14.1
Run your project to see what it looks like. Again, if you get any errors and the project does not build correctly, read the error report(s) carefully and see if you can troubleshoot the problem.

Select the Assistant Editor from the top right corner of Xcode to display the storyboard and associated Swift file side-by-side. Now hide both the Navigator and Utilities panels by clicking on the appropriate panel buttons in the top right corner of Xcode. See figure 15.
Figure 15
Now let’s connect up our storyboard elements to our controller, which will connect our interface to our code, that way all the relevant interface elements can communicate events to the controller.

Place your mouse pointer over the Label; then press and hold the control button while clicking and holding down your mouse button as you pan your mouse pointer across the screen and into the right side of Xcode where your Swift file is located. You should see a blue line follow your mouse pointer. See figure 16.

Figure 16

Once in the class area, as shown, release the mouse button and the control as well.  You will see a dialogue box prompting you for the name of your outlet. Name it ‘numericDisplay’. See figure 17. This will add the necessary outlet code to your Swift controller class. An outlet is a reference pointer to an element inside your storyboard. Creating outlets allows for easy access to objects in your storyboard. After naming the outlet, your screen should look like figure 18.

Figure 17


Figure 18

Go ahead and connect the buttons as outlets as well. Name the left button ‘resetButton’ and the right button ‘startStopButton’.

In a similar fashion to the newly created outlets, we will now create action methods for each button. This time we will drag the blue line toward the bottom of the file but inside the class body. Name the left button resetButtonPressed and startStopButtonPressed for the right button. In the dialog box, make sure you select 'Action' from the Connection drop down menu. See figure 19. Action methods are the functions in your class that get messaged/called when the button that is associated with the connected method is triggered by an event. An event is initiated when the user interacts with any of your buttons.
Figure 19
Your interface should now look like the screencap in figure 20.

Figure 20

To accurately update our numeric display label, we need to tie it in to a mechanism that will update at very precise time intervals. To access this functionality, we need to import the appropriate class library. From Xcode’s menu bar, select the Window tab drop down menu then select Documentation and API Reference. See figure 21. The documentation search window should appear. In the search bar type CADisplayLink and locate the appropriate documentation. Read through the documentation and familiarize your self with the CADisplayLink class. This class is very useful when your code needs precise timing control.

Figure 21

Notice that the CADisplayLink requires the QuartzCore framework. A framework is a set of classes with predefined functionality so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; it's code packaged for re-use, so use it!  With Swift you no longer need to define an interface(.h) and an implementatin(.m) file to define a class which is nice. Also, when importing different frameworks into your project you no longer have to go Xcode's build setting and explicitly add that framework; it automatically loads when you use the keyword import followed by the desired framework like so: import {SomeFramework} but without the curly braces.  And my favorite addition is the fact that semicolons are no longer required! WhooHoo! There are also a ton of outher features of Swift that I have yet to discover. In your ViewController.swift file add the line of code importing QuartzCore:


Importing a framework into your file gives you access to its classes and functionality. In your ViewController class, add the following var properties just below the @IBOutlet properties. Add the code in lines 5 and 6 below:



‘var’ is short for variable and displayLink is our object pointer of type CADisplayLink. We use this pointer to hold a strong reference to an instantiated CADisplayLink object that we will create in a few moments. We want a strong reference to an instance of CADisplayLink to be able to access it throughout the various parts of our class. We also define a lastDisplayLinkTimeStamp of type CFTimeInterval. This variable will store a running tally of the total elapsed time.

Now let’s set the default view element values for our numeric display label and our two buttons. Add the code below to our viewDidLoad() method:



In your viewDidLoad() method now add the lines of code from the snippet below:



The first new line of code above (line 16) creates an instance of a CADisplayLink object, and assigns this class, i.e. “self,” as the target for messages that inform us of a display refresh rate update. This occurs in the first parameter of the CADisplayLink(<first parameter>, <second parameter>) method call. In the second parameter we pass the name of the method that we would like to be called when there is a display refresh rate update. We will define this method shortly. The second new line of code (line 9) ensures that the display link does not begin its updates until we press the Start button in our user interface. The third new line of code (line 12) schedules the display link to begin sending notifications to our instance method about display refresh rate updates. The fourth new line of code (line 15) simply initializes our elapsed time running tally variable.

The next step is to define the method that will be called when the display link has an update. Add this code to the bottom of the viewController.swift class, i.e. inside the final class curly brace:



Now for the logic—we are almost there! In the newly created function add the following lines of code:



The first new line of code (line 3) updates our running tally. The second (line 6) formats our running tally into a string that only shows the last two significant digits. The third (line 9) updates our numeric display label.

Let’s move over to the startStopButtonPressed(…) method. This method is called anytime the user presses the button situated to the right in our stop watch scene. When this button is pressed we want to toggle the display link’s “paused” Boolean value. Add the following line of code to this method.



At this point you can run your project and press the start button to see your stop watch in action! Woohoo! Again, if you get any errors and the project does not build correctly, read the error message(s) carefully and see if you can troubleshoot the problem.

Let’s shift our focus to the Reset button. What do you think this button should logically do? It should pause the display link to prevent it from  sending us any further updates, then set the numeric display label to zero, and update our Start/Stop button state. In the resetButtonPressed(…) method add the following lines of code:



Let’s now complete our code project by adding the last few lines of code for our Start/Stop button. In startStopButtonPressed(…) add the code in bold:



Our label text string will not be modified if our code does not fall through our first conditional if statement. If, however, the display link is paused, then we check the running display link tally. If this tally is greater than zero, then we display the resume button since pressing this button again will not reset our running tally. If it’s equal to zero then we display the start text. The button text is set in the last line of code.

Your final ViewController file should look like this.

Finally, let’s add a title label. Go back to the main storyboard. From the object list at the bottom of the File Inspector in the right pane of Xcode, drag a Label to the center/top of your main view. Size it as you like, and provide it with a text title such as “Stopwatch”.  The final product should look something like the three screencaps below, showing the default, running and paused states:

Default State



Running

Paused

And that concludes our simple Stopwatch app tutorial! We leave you off with a question for further reflection.  Notice that our chronometer output is not formatted for standard time. Our implementation increments our minor units, values to the right of the decimal point, from .00 to .99 before increasing the the major unit by one. Although this is a correct unit of measurement, it is not in the ubiquitous standard time format. In the standard format the minor unit, a.k.a the second, is incremented from .00 to .59 before the next major unit, i.e. a minute, is increased by one. Since there are many ways to implement this, some being more efficient than others, we leave this consideration to the reader as an exercise. Post your own solution below. And, as always, feedback, suggestions, and angry tirades are welcome in the comments.

This project can be found on GitHub.

The Stopwatch app and tutorial was originally authored by Stefan Agapie, a Senior iOS Software Engineer, and then adapted for the present piece.
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Serendipitous Songs? New App Maps Where And When People Play Similar Songs

Do you ever wonder if you share a "soundtrack" with other people, perhaps during a certain time, or in a certain vicinity? If you do, now there's a way to find out what your fellow music fans are jamming to at the same time or place you are.

According to techtimes.com, Spotify's new Serendipity app tracks your tunes as you rock out, then shows users if someone else, anywhere in the world, is grooving to the same song. As Spotify describes this, "If you're listen[ing] to a popular song, there's a good chance someone else is listening to it in sync with you." You can watch the results on a map and allow yourself to be happy that someone, somewhere is also crying along to Air Supply's "All Out Of Love."

The fascinating part about this is that Spotify has deduced that every second, ten people begin listening to the same song within a tenth of a second. So yeah, it could be implied that every time you're blasting the Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive", ten other people may be doing the Travolta dance along with you...somewhere.  
Ha, ha, ha, ha - oh sweet, some dude in Belgium is jamming it too!  Intercontinental dance party! 


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Where're You At? New App Monitors Missed Connections

Have you ever passed a certain someone on the street and, for whatever reason, have not been able to get them out of your head? Now, a new app can help you find them without having to deal with all the weirdos in the "Missed Connections" forums.

Happn, a new app created by a hacker, an entrepreneur, and a computer engineer, seeks to play e-matchmaker with those who have perchance crossed your path. As their website exclaims, Happn is, "An app that loves coincidences and boosts luck again!"

Prospective users make profiles which are invisible to other users, except in the event that their paths cross...at parties, concerts or bars, on hikes on or the street. Maybe it's even just someone in the same hallway at work as you who you've never mustered up the courage or a reason to talk to. Now, thanks to Happn, you can happen upon their real identity.

The creators claim the app does not share information and has easy features to flag or block those who would use this app for stalking or other unsavory recon. So get out there and find that mystery man or woman!

One of these people could be the one for you, and now, you don't even have to talk to them to meet!




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Believe The Hyperlapse: New App To Smooth Out GoPro Videos For Maximum Cool Viewing

For adventurous videographers everywhere, the GoPro is a thing of beauty.  The compact, tough little cameras operate in a variety of crazy environments - even underwater or hurtling through the air - and the high-def videos serve as souvenirs like no other of your excellent exploits.  Unfortunately, your gnarly ski vids end up looking a little TOO gnarly thanks to the shaking inherent to all of your extreme activity.  Thankfully, Microsoft is working on a software solution to this issue.

According to wired.com, a new app is in development to help smooth out your shots and gives your home movie a "hyperlapse" real movie feel.  This works by an algorithm analyzing your original trajectory, then restitching and blending the frames together to create a more fluid appearance.  "Hyperlapse" refers to the smoothed-out version of time lapse videos - a.k.a. the sped-up versions of your adventures that make the action move more swiftly, and now, not at the expense of watchability.  The technology is currently in development for a new app for Windows.

Learn more and check out some spectacular stabilized footage at research.microsoft.com/hyperlapse.