Technology, Cars, and the Big City

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 7.07.28 PMI don’t live in a big city. I live in a busy area, part of the megalopolis that is the northeast US….. but not in a city. However, my adult children and their spouses all live in cities. And when I visit them, I always learn something new.

If you are a city-dweller, you can stop reading, now. This will be old news for you. But for the rest of us …… it is so interesting to watch technology changing something so basic as the old “TAXI!” hail.

But let me back up a bit. It is often not practical to own a car when you live in a city, and entrepreneurs have focused on that need over the last few years, filling the gap with Zip Cars and Cars2Go. Zipcars can be found parked all around the streets of a city, and if you are a member, you just reserve one (find it on your app), unlock it and drive away, using the car for just hours or days.

For really short trips (maybe you just want to drive a few blocks) a Car2Go might be the solution. With a member card, you just get in and go. The description from the car2go website sums it up nicely: “A car2go is always a pleasure to drive: just take it, drive it, park it. Simple and straightforward. You can always find a vehicle in your area. You open it with the member card you receive after signing up. You go from A to B, park your car2go again and that’s that.”

New-to-me for this city-trip was a service called Uber. (thanks, Jinna!)

Uber has been around now for several years, and is located in cities all over the world … but was jaw-dropping goodness when my daughter-in-law whipped out her iPhone and said that she was going to get an Uber car to take us home.

We didn’t have to stand on a corner to try and hail a taxi. Nope. She just pulled up her Uber app on her phone, and tapped to call a car. Then, on her screen, we saw a map. This map showed our location …. and also the location of the Uber car that was on our way to pick us up!

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We watched as the car got closer, so we knew when to start looking for it. No curb standing for us. She also had been given the license number of the car and a photo of the driver.

Car arrived and we hopped in. After a lovely ride to our destination, we said goodbye to our friendly driver and left the car with no money exchanged. Your trip and your tip is simply charged to your credit card, which you gave when you signed up for the service.

Remarkably convenient. And the price was similar (I think in this case cheaper) than a cab ride would have been for the same distance. *****Note to new Uber users: you need to select UberX to get cab pricing that’s similar to taxis. Uber Black car service is VERY EXPENSIVE (it’s equivalent to a town car service). and unfortunately it’s easy to accidentally click on. So be careful (and frugal) and choose UberX for the best price.

This is extra interesting to me since this is a service that I might actually use when visiting Philadelphia or NYC. As a day visitor I would never grab a car2go to navigate city traffic, but an Uber car would be a wonderful opportunity to skip the smelly yellow cab and the whole “I have to find a cab” experience.

A quick google search showed me that many cities (taxi companies) are not pleased with this service, fighting to limit the number of cars, etc.

But I’m hoping this wave of “alternatives-to-taxis” prevails. It is marvelously convenient.

Uber cars are in service all over the world. Click here for a list of all the participating cities.

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Oy Vey! My Eyes Failed Me

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 12.39.29 PMSeveral days ago I posted a gushy happy recommendation for the app RetailMeNot.

If you read the post, you saw me ramble on about not being able to turn off the noisy cash-register-like notifications.

Love the app, hate the startling “ka-ching!”.

In a conversation with my dear daughter-in-law, Carmen, she shared her love of RetailMeNot on it’s website. She doesn’t have the app, but expressed her surprise that you couldn’t turn off the sound.

I assured her that you could not, and I thought that was surprising.

So I went and looked again (even though I had looked many times before)…..

Oh my. Oy vey.

It was there all along.

It is CLEARLY marked “mall notifications”.

But what did I see? I saw “MAIL notifications”. Not mall. I saw mail.

Can you say “old eyes”, boys and girls? :roll:

Thanks, Carmen, for making me look, again.

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Watch Colbert and Stewart for Free on your iPhone or iPad

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 6.52.59 AMWith more and more people dropping their cable subscriptions, it is great to be able to turn to your iPad or iPhone and catch the programming you miss.

Even better when it’s FREE.

Just yesterday, Comedy Central released their new app. Now you can watch full episodes of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report on your iPad or iPhone.

The app does include other programming as well, however, in order to see those, you must sign in with a cable subscription. BUT…. for Stewart and Colbert, no cable subscription required. Just download the free app, and enjoy. :)

Comedy Central for iPhone or iPad is FREE in the iTunes store.

Note: iOS7 is required

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Get Great Deals Wherever-you-are with RetailMeNot Coupons

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 6.15.16 AMI almost deleted this app. Why? It scared me.

But now, the very thing that scared me I think is pretty darn awesome.

Let me back up a bit……

RetailMeNot is a coupon app. Deals deals deals. I have another coupon app that I used often (Sherpa) but gradually RetailMeNot has become my one-and-only.

No sign in or sign up required. Just use your phone to show the coupon in a brick and mortar store and get your discount.

no scissors required

no scissors required

What makes this app different (and a tad scary to me) is that it will alert you to the deals nearby wherever-you-are! Every time I arrive in a shopping area my iPhone makes a cash-register sound, letting me know that coupons are available to save $ in the stores nearby.

Now … honestly …. that cash register sound is startling. I don’t like it. I almost deleted the app because of it.

However, I have had two experiences where money-saving coupons were discovered and used because of the alert. In addition to that, I found myself in need of a restaurant coupon and after checking several other sources from my phone to no avail, RetailMeNot gave me a coupon that saved 50% off of one of the meals. Hurray for this app!

So I’ve made my peace with this app and it’s noisy noise. It has saved me $ several times. I find that I really like being alerted when there are deals nearby (you could turn this off), however ….. I do wish I could CHANGE the sound to something less startling (that cash register sound is loud and jarring).

****NOTE: You CAN change the annoying sound. Read about it, here.

RetailMeNot Coupons is FREE in the iTunes store

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Weekend Distraction: Bookworm

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 7.22.00 AMI hesitated highlighting this game. Why? Because it is so great that I have to imagine that everyone has it already. :)

But, this blog attracts lots of NEW users of the iPhone and/or iPad, and for those newbies …. you are in for a treat!!

Bookworm is an award winning game. Letters drop, and you tap them to make words. As you create words, your score grows. You’re happy and doing fine. Suddenly you see a new block, and notice that it is (gulp) on fire! Now comes the tricky part: You must use that letter before it hits the bottom, or your game is done. One burning tile isn’t too bad. But the longer you play, the more burning tiles appear. Quite a challenge! On this screen shot I waited too long to tap the burning tiles and they are starting to add up. Best to zap them as soon as you see them.

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Bookworm is $1.99 in the iTunes store.

BEWARE!! If you’ve never played this before, you will find it incredibly addicting.

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Jimmy Fallon, Billy Joel and an iPad App = Wonderful-ness

Take Billy Joel, Jimmy Fallon and an iPad App, and what do you get? Happiness!

I guarantee that watching this will make you smile, bounce around in your seat and generally make you feel good all over. :)

(In case you are interested, the app they used to form their very own Doo-Wop group is LoopyHD)

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March Madness Begins! Here are some Apps to help you follow the action

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 6.35.25 AMMarch Madness is about to consume the US for the next few weeks.

For those people all caught up in the, uh, Madness, there are quite a few FREE apps to help you follow the excitement from your iPhone or iPad.

Since I have not tried any of these myself, I thought it would be best if I linked to a post that thoroughly covers the best of these apps.

Let the Madness begin!

Best March Madness apps for iPhone: NCAA Sports, CBS Sports, ESPN Tournament Challenge, and more!

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Weekend Distraction: Smash Hit (break glass with no mess!)

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 8.23.00 AMI downloaded this app when it was highlighted in the App Store as one of their favorite picks.

I didn’t really know what I’d see, but I also noticed that it was at the top of the list in the rankings for free apps.

Couldn’t hurt, so I gave it a try.

Although it is not the kind of thing I would do for any length of time, I learned that it is surprisingly enjoyable to smash glass. ;)

The learning curve is tiny. The screen will roll and your job is to tap on pyramids made of glass, or glass obstacles that stand in your way. This will launch a ball that smashes the glass.

I apologize for my screen shot of their screen shot, but I was not ambidextrous enough to grab my own pic of the action.

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This takes some concentration, so you just might enjoy it when you could use a bit of a distraction (or when you feel the need to break something :) ) Be sure to turn up your sound!

Smash Hit for iPhone and/or iPad is FREE in the iTunes store

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How Do I …… ?? Ask Wikihow

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Wikihow will teach you how to do just about anything.

You can visit Wikihow on the internet (wikihow).

Their tagline is “learn how to do anything” and you can get an idea of the variety of “how tos” by looking at this screenshot of their webpage:

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I have used the website many times, but recently I downloaded their free app. It has been hailed as “always helpful” (USA Today) and “indispensable” (MacWorld).

I’ve listed here a few of the random guides that I saw when I opened the app:

How to slice a kiwi.

How to tie a scarf.

How to stay warm in cold weather.

How to make Beignets.

How to make a simple musical instrument.

How to dry apples.

How to freeze basil.

How to read lips.

How to tell scary stories.

How to build a cat climber.

How to set up indoor photography lights.

How to wash a rabbit. < ????????
(yes. really. If you need to wash a rabbit, this app will help you do it.) :lol:

You can search for how to do a specific task. I asked about changing a stuck light bulb, and you can see I was given many, many choices (and this is just the tip of the iceberg!)

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In addition to giving you access to over 150,000 how-to guides, the app also gives you a Survival guide, which is a collection of emergency-situation how-tos. While you need internet access to see most of the guides in this app, the Survival Guide is available off-line. I tested this by putting my iPad into airplane mode, and yes, the emergency section was still fully accessible.

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The app is simple to use, and quite nice to look at. Directions to do things are presented step by step, and sometimes include video.

This is useful when you NEED to know something, but it is also fun to look through at random. You never know what you might find. (now I have to go and find a rabbit in need of a bath so that I can wash it. :) )

Wikihow for the iPhone and iPad is FREE in the iTunes store.

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Dr. Seuss’s Birthday = App Sales All Week

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 7.21.49 PMDr.Seuss inspires children to read every single day. I remember reading Dr. Seuss books to my own children and even though that was many (many many) years ago, I can still recite lots of Seuss-lines by heart. (One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish... Big A little A, what begins with A?   I could keep going. Once you start reciting the lyrical lines, it’s hard to stop!).

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday this coming week, the entire Dr. Seuss digital book app library (more than 60 apps) will be going on sale for up to 80% OFF. The sale will run from Friday, February 28th through Thursday, March 6th.

This is also the first year that each of the 44 classic Dr. Seuss books are available on the App Store as a digital book app. This means that your favorite book is now an app.

5 of the best selling titles will be 99 cents (regular prices $3.99-$4.99) -The Cat in the Hat Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 6.46.02 PM, Green Eggs and Ham , One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish , Dr. Seuss’s ABC ,  Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

(All other titles are $1 OFF, including classic Dr. Seuss & The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library Collections- -Beginner Book Collection #1- $8.99 (regular price $14.99) -Beginner Book Collection #2- $8.99 (regular price $14.99) -Dr. Seuss Short Story Collection- $5.99 (regular price $9.99))

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In addition, Oceanhouse Media will launch a contest on both their Facebook page and Instagram on February 28th to give fans the chance to win a 10-pack of apps. They will also be dropping promo codes every hour on the hour (12pm-5pm PST) on Monday, February 3rd to celebrate Read Across America Day.

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