The Newest Craze …. Pokemon Go

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 3.03.13 PM I’ve been debating whether or not I should address this phenomenon in this blog. I decided not to mention it. Just a silly game (I thought).

And then, this morning I went to our local library. There is a big concrete area in front of our library, an area used for festivals, holiday decorations and concerts. As I walked through it, I was astounded to see many (MANY!!!) folks wandering around the area with their phones in front of their faces. What a sight. And so, for all of you (us) of-a-certain-age folks who don’t know what’s going on with all these zoned-out phone-holders, I thought I’d best sum it up here on this blog.

If you have anyone in your life under the age of 35, just go ahead and ask them. Chances are they are playing, and if not they will certainly know all about it.
It’s Pokemon Go, and it’s e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e.

What’s it all about? Well, it’s a game that you do out in the world (rather than on the couch). It’s kind of a combination GPS geo-caching thing / scavenger hunt / video game, all rolled into one.

If you’ve ever participated in geo-caching (THAT I’ve done!), you’ll find it is fun and strangely addicting. You learn of a ‘prize’ hidden at a coordinate, and you locate that spot with your phone’s gps. Geo-caching is like a treasure hunt, with a gps treasure-map.

Pokemon Go yanks this up a notch or two. Just as in geo-caching, you go out hunting for particular spots, but this time the prizes are virtual little Pokemon characters. They aren’t “really” there, of course, but if you get yourself to the appropriate coordinate, and look THROUGH the app on your phone, you’ll see the critter. And then you ‘catch’ him with a ball.

This screenshot shows you what a player sees. YOU …. the you without the app….you just see a tree. The player, looking THROUGH the app on their phone, sees this little orange fellow.

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Got it? There’s not much more. Except you want to catch as many as you can. The more you catch, the more you rise through the levels. After that it gets more complicated than I care to learn. (Something about fighting if you’re high enough in the game.)

So now you know. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll see them. Pokemon Go players are everywhere. In parks, downtown, most public areas. You’ll recognize them as they intently walk with their phones right in front of their faces. Sometimes they’re in a group. Surrounding….. nothing (to you). But they see a critter. Crazy, huh?

Although I can’t address this first hand, it seems all consuming. There have been reports of people being injured as they are completely distracted staring at their phones. Even while driving. Yes. You read that right. Even while driving.

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If you want to know more about this game just google “Pokemon Go”. You’ll learn everything you want to know.

And if you want to try it yourself, you can download it from the iTunes store. It’s free.

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Find Safe, Healthy and Socially Responsible Products with Good Guide

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 8.23.48 AMThis app was promoted on our latest Earth Day. I learned about it then, and downloaded it immediately.

I’m delighted!

With a massive database of over 210,000 products, this app rates them on a scale of 1 to 10 on health, environmental and social impact.

You can search for a product or you can browse through categories such as pet products, oral care, food, household cleaners and more. I especially like seeing the ingredients listed with ratings on EACH ingredient about its safety (or not). You can even scan the barcode of a product while you are shopping.

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I searched for several products that I use regularly and was surprised to see a very low rating for one in particular that I use all the time (oh my ….. a change will happen.๐Ÿ™‚ ).

This app has been featured in the NY Times, USA Today, TIME, Oprah, InStyle, Newsweek, TechCrunch, ABC, CBS, and more. Truly a valuable resource at your fingertips.

Good Guide is FREE in the iTunes store.

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Use the “Near” Feature on Google Maps to Find What you Want

Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 6.05.37 PMNot a day goes by that I don’t click on Google Maps. I use it ALL the time.

I use it for directions, of course, and daily for traffic. I use it to look for shortcuts, and I use it for street view so that I can recognize my destination when I get there.

Another great feature of Google Maps is the “near” feature. I was not very familiar with it, but now that I’m using it …… well, it’s simply invaluable.

Let’s say you are standing in Manhattan, near the Empire State Building. You want to visit a book store, but you have no clue of the name of any local book store let alone where one might be.

Google maps to the rescue.

Simply search for “book stores near (your location)” In this example case, I searched for “book stores near the Empire State Building” and the map below shows the result of that search. A bunch of book stores to explore!

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This is obviously a great feature to have when you’re away from home, but lately I find myself using this trick at home, too, to discover unknown-to-me restaurants and other places.

Just search using your own address (or “me” if Google maps knows your home address):
“Mexican restaurants near me,” for example, and, poof! All kinds of new places to explore.๐Ÿ™‚

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Weekend Distraction: Bonza: An Addictive Word Game

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 6.00.18 PM Bonza is a word puzzle game that’s a bit hard to describe.

The finished puzzle looks like a crossword puzzle, but that’s not how it starts.

You are presented with assorted pieces of the puzzle and it is up to you to slide those pieces around until you make the words that match the theme.

This quick video will show you clearly what I struggle to explain.

Once you download this app, you will get a set of ‘starter’ puzzles to complete. After that, if you want more, you’ll have to buy packs.

** OR **

you can return to the app each day and find a new puzzle …. for free. This is the one-free-puzzle a day model that is also used in the Daily Crossword. I like this. One a day is enough for my rather short ‘game-attention’ span.

Bonza works on your iPhone or iPad and is free in the iTunes store. (I downloaded this a while ago and paid 99ยข for it. As I write this blog post, it appears to be free.)

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Weekend Distraction: Daily Celebrity Crossword

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 7.37.58 AMFinally! A crossword puzzle I can complete! (translation: very very easy)

Notice that in the title it says “celebrity” ……. I actually found that off-putting, since I am not one who knows much about actors, sports figures etc.

BUT, to my delight, the celebrity part is usually only two or three clues throughout the entire puzzle, and completely solvable with the cross-clues.

I really enjoy doing crossword puzzles. But I’m also REALLY bad at it. I’ve tried so many, and it’s so discouraging. I love that I can almost always complete this one. I know it’s easy, but that’s ok with me. I still get a happy feeling when I get my completed star and digital confetti as I type in the last word.๐Ÿ™‚

There is absolutely no learning curve to complete the puzzle. The clue is highlighted along with the blocks you have to fill. Just tap and type. (there are some other nuances. You earn coins when solving, and you can use these coins to buy hints, etc. This is something I’ve never needed to do, so I just ignore the whole coin thing. I just do the basic puzzle. Perfect in its simplicity.)

You get ONE puzzle per day. Just one. At first I craved more, but over time I’ve found that one is just enough. This way I don’t over-do and it keeps my interest.

Occasionally you’ll get a bonus free puzzle. As I type this, I noticed that the app is offering a free bonus puzzle for Valentine’s day. So today I’ll do two. Yay!

Daily Celebrity Crossword is FREE in the iTunes store.

Sample puzzle page:


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In Case of an Emergency……………… (If you have an iPhone, you should definitely do THIS. It could save your life.)

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.28.28 AMYears (and years) ago, I remember putting the contact “ICE” (in case of emergency) in my contact list. I thought this was so clever. In an emergency, a health care person could find this on my phone and know who to contact……

Duh. Now our phones are locked. Although my ICE contact is still listed, in an emergency the professional who picks up my phone will find nothing but a lock screen.


There is an emergency “work around” and this is far better than the mere ICE contact.
(and I thank dear friend Trudi for bringing this to my attention).

By setting up your Medical ID information in the “Health” app on your phone, you will give medical professionals the opportunity to see your emergency contact and any health info that you would want them to know in case of an emergency.

All you need to do is:

1. open your health app, and add the medical information that you would want known.

That’s it!

In case of an emergency, this information will be accessible on your locked iPhone.

To access this medical information from the locked numeric code screen, just tap “Emergency”

and then, “medical ID”

Click on this link to see this laid out, step by step:
Hospital Employee Shares iPhone Tip That Could Save Your Life In An Emergency


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You have a Level in your Pocket ….. twice

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 4.41.05 PMApple included a level on their iPhones way back when. But if you don’t need it often, you might forget that it’s even there. Or if you remember, and need it ….. you might forget where to find it. (It is part of the “compass” app on your iPhone. Open the compass, and swipe the screen to the right, and you’ll find the level.)

But thanks to my DDL, I’ve learned of another level. I actually prefer using this new one, after a situation where I was holding up a rather heavy item and while doing so, tried to access my iPhone level. To the horror of my balancing arm, I was forced to ‘recalibrate’ my compass before I could even access the level, and the heavy item won the battle with gravity.๐Ÿ˜ฏ

So here is a quicker way to summon a level, thanks to Google (and my DDL).

Just bring up your search engine on your iPhone. (I prefer google, but this works with Safari, too.)

Type in the words: bubble level

and …….

there you have it!

A bubble level. Just ask and you shall receive…..๐Ÿ™‚


Happy New Year!

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