App Review: LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 (iTunes link), $4.99 USD, is a game developed by Warner Bros. for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. I know what you’re thinking: “Harry Potter?! Really?” Simply put: yes, really. While LEGOs are usually reserved for kids, LEGO games are clearly not. They are for childish youthful individuals that are either too embarrassed to admit their soft spot or who no longer have their favorite childhood toys at hand. At 1 year too young and about 7 years too old, I decided to take the dive and open the app with a wide mind, and my findings are the following.

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App Review: Flipboard

Flipboard (iTunes link), free, is an iPad application that simulates a virtual magazine or a virtual newspaper based on RSS feeds. The thing that differentiates this application from, say, Project (another virtual magazine application or iPad) is that since it uses RSS feeds, and you get to choose the content that is displayed in the application.

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App Review: Chop Chop Hockey

Chop Chop HockeyChop Chop Hockey (iTunes link), $0.99 USD, is one of three sports games created by Gamerizon, a Montreal-based independent developing group for the App Store and other platforms. Gamerizon has made Chop Chop Hockey, with its unique gameplay, a game of its own league. We’ll be looking at the application’s menus and graphics, audio, controls and game play, replay value, and value for its money. The overall score will be based on all five of these categories, averaging them out to the nearest tenth. (more…)

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Hamburger Helper High Tech

I admit I lead a semi-charmed kind of life. But I’m sure I’m not alone when I admit one of the most dreaded decisions I face on a daily basis is what to cook for dinner. I enjoy cooking (eating, anyways) but sometimes I get into a rut. I know it’s bad when I find myself staring blankly at my refrigerator and my eyes are drawn to the school lunch menu in search of inspiration. Searching food websites or flipping through magazines replete with glossy photos of impossibly difficult dishes containing unobtainable ingredients surprisingly does not make the task any easier, or fun.  However, take all the information and distill it into an iPad app and I’m so there.  Last week, Allrecipes.com, the website with over 44,000 recipes and a membership of over 3.6 million users, released a new free cooking app, Allrecipes – Your Kitchen Inspiration.  Read my review after the jump… (more…)

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Adding Camera Functionality to the iPad

I’ve always envied those professional-looking product photos I see on websites, but I was never willing to invest in a fancy light box set-up.  When taking photos of items I wanted to sell on an auction site, I just found a neutral background and hoped the stains in my carpet wouldn’t show up too much.  Now with the help of my iPhone, iPad and some photo editing software, I can post pictures that promote the item and not solicit carpet cleaning services. Read on to find out how I did it. (more…)

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Death to the Fax Machine

One would hope in this digital age, which is supposed to make life easier, that there would be a better way to fill out and return forms.  The other day I had to sign a contract.  This meant I had to print it, sign it, scan it, and email it back.  I figured there must be a better way.  Researching recent releases, I found a solution.  Last week, LifeForms Creative LLC released a free PDF form editor that allows you to open a PDF form, enter text and signatures, and email it back, all from your iPad.  Can we say goodbye to paper for good? Read on for my impressions.

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Running App Follow-Up: Google Thinks I’m a Robot

This Sunday I had the opportunity to test out RunKeeper Live for myself. I ran in a local marathon and put RunKeeper through its paces. I started the app a few minutes before the race to get a sense of potential power issues. It was draining at about 1% per minute! Now I’m slow, but at that rate, even the world record holder wouldn’t have enough juice to send out updates for a complete marathon. Once the gun went off, I didn’t give it much thought. I checked it around mile 19, 3:45 into the race (I told you I was slow) and was pleasantly surprised to see the battery hadn’t completely drained. However it had only 7% juice left so I had to turn my phone off.  After the race I checked Facebook to see the app had sent updates to my Facebook wall directing friends to the RunKeeper website.  Albeit a bit embarrassing for me, my friends and family were able to watch my progress so the app did work well.  I posted later to confirm I hadn’t quit, just ran out of battery.  The automatic updates sent by the phone had an interesting side effect: Google thought I was a robot.  When I tried to complete a search, Google stopped me, asking me to prove I was indeed human.  I entered a captcha and clicked the “I’m human” button to confirm my corporal existence and Google was satisfied.   I wonder how many times I can use the app before Google decides I am a lying android?

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Accessing Digital Magazine Content: Coverleaf and Zinio

Reading digital content on the iPad is, of course, an extremely easy and enjoyable experience.  However, while iBooks and the Amazon Kindle app have been broadly touted, magazine content has not been so widely promoted.  The Zinio app provides digital subscriptions to some of the most popular magazines, as well as the ability to purchase single issues including present and back issues.  The Coverleaf website does the same but offers a welcome twist: free digital downloads for current subscribers and serious discounts even on current issues. (more…)

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Running Apps Offer Live Tracking

On Sunday, November 7th, some 30,000 runners will line up to complete the ING NYC marathon. Over 2,000,000 spectators will line the streets of the five boroughs. Supporters can track their runners via text, web or mobile app. But you don’t have to run in the big leagues to enjoy the support of family and friends your next race day or even your next long run. Recent features added to iMapyMyRun and RunKeeper allow users to track runners and posts distances, paces and times directly to Facebook.

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Dictate2us Transcribes Audio Notes by Hand

Dictate2us is an audio transcription service designed for doctors, lawyers, and other professionals whose job requires the use of voice memos. Unlike Dragon Dictation, which uses server software to analyze the audio and convert it to text, d2u sends the file to a trained transcriber.

The Service

The turn around times are guaranteed to be less than 60 minutes for notes five minutes in length and shorter, and 24 hours for longer notes. The pricing is $2.25 “per dictated minute”, not by the time it takes to transcribe. So whether a twenty minute audio note takes two hours or four hours to transcribe, it will cost you the same.

I put the service through a series of rigorous tests, starting with an excerpt from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was transcribed perfectly.

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