The Gadgets Page

June 9, 2011

Easy Meditation with Ambiance

Filed under: eBook Readers and Peripherals,PDAs and Phones,Software — Laura Moncur @ 8:01 am

Ambiance iOS appI can hardly believe that I never wrote a review for Ambiance [iTunes link]. It’s one of my favorite iOS apps and I literally use it every day for both meditation and going to sleep.

There are a ton of sounds to download for free to use, which makes it incredibly versatile. For example, I have downloaded several nature sounds like the one shown here, Scottish Springtime. I’ve set my timer for fifteen minutes and the shuffle to change every minute, so I can meditate to various sounds of nature no matter where I am. When the timer runs out, I’m finished meditating.

My sister Stacey and her husband Dan, however, use Ambiance to distract the dogs. They have downloaded a white noise sample and use it to drown out the sound of children playing and neighbors walking past the house so that their dogs won’t erupt into a fit of barking when the two of them are not home.

There are always new sounds on AmbianceI love that there are new sounds available quite often. When I first downloaded Ambiance several months ago, I only had a few sounds, so it felt like I was meditating to the same sounds every day. Now, I have so many different sounds to choose from that it’s rare that I hear a repeat in a week. I adore that the app will push me a notice when they have new sounds available. I usually drop everything just to see what is available.

I honestly haven’t used all the features available to me in Ambiance. There is a way to record your own sounds to use with Ambiance, so you can populate your meditation with your favorite comforting sounds. There is also a rating and favorites system. I’ve never rated a sound because I’m pretty much happy with all the sounds I’ve downloaded and deleted the sounds that turned out to be jarring or inconducive to meditation.

Ambiance iOS appA favorite for me is the alarm feature so that Ambiance can wake me up. It will bring up a clock to sit next to my bed and it will play sounds to lull me to sleep and slowly fade out after a preset time. In the morning, it will fade in, gradually waking me up to my favorite soothing sounds. It’s a fully functional alarm with “normal” alarm noises and a snooze option as well.

I have enjoyed Ambiance so much over the last few months that I can hardly believe it only cost me three bucks. I remember looking at clocks at Sharper Image and Brookstone that would play relaxing sounds for me that cost easily ten times that amount and they didn’t have as much functionality as Ambiance has, much less the ability to add more sounds. It has been a great app for me and I literally use it every day.

You can download Ambiance here:

October 22, 2010

Halloween Apps for iPad and iPhone

Filed under: eBook Readers and Peripherals,PDAs and Phones,Software — Laura Moncur @ 2:27 pm

Halloween is just around the corner! Get into the mood with these apps.

Angry Bird Halloween Edition

I’ve played Angry Birds on the iPad a few times and it amused me, but when Rovio came out with a Halloween edition of the game, they were suddenly my favorite game of the month! Here is a video showing the action.

You can download the games from iTunes here:

Ghost Radar

I talked about Ghost Radar before here:

It is such a fun app, that I’m going to have it running in the background in the kitchen during my Halloween Party. Here is a quick video showing it:

You can download the app here:

Halloween Movie Vault

Halloween Movie VaultFlingsoft has brought us a huge collection of old movies that you can stream onto your iPad. It’s a stroke of genius. I thought maybe all of the movies would be really bad, but there are some good ones there including: Dementia 13 (directed by Francis Ford Coppola), White Zombie (with Bela Lugosi) and The Last Man on Earth (with Vincent Price).

You can download Halloween Movie Vault here:

There’s nothing like a bunch of scary movies to make Halloween feel even scarier!

September 2, 2010

Ghost Radar App

Filed under: PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I’ve have received so much joy and laughter from the iPhone app, Ghost Radar by Spud Pickles [iTunes link], and that’s just from the user reviews. As far as I can tell, the app is a fancy random word generator. Now, I’ve always been a friend of The Random, so it sounded like something perfect for me. After I read the reviews, however, I just HAD to buy it.

Here are a few of the funniest reviews for your enjoyment.

One Word “Wow” by Night Lover: ok I bought this app this morning thinking that it’s fake and also being a skeptic I’m not sure what to make of it. After I installed it I launched it in my garage and it was dead silent and a few minutes later it started showing strong feilds and then said my name, after that I was a little creeped so I got up to leave and it said “don’t leave” I’m not saying it paranormal but it’s deffinetly strange.

Should I tell him that iPhone apps can access the phone owner’s name?

Is a quiet house worth 99 cents? by monkeyrotica: I have on idea if this really detects anything or if this is just a random word generator. I don’t care. All I know is that I put this on the table in front of my kids and whispered to them, “Ever notice haunted houses are quiet? Ghosts hate noise. The Ghost Detector only works if you’re QUIET.” For the next HOUR they sat silently and listed to the app spit out a bunch of random words. They then whispered among themselves what those words could possibly mean. If you have kids and want some peace and quiet, buy this app.

I actually tried this with my husband’s little sister. We had a very enjoyable (and quiet) half hour talking to the iPhone, OuiJa board style.

Still testing by SoYLaVoz: Ok so it’s been 3 months since I used this app. I thought it was a random word generator until that one day it said my grandmothers name while she was talking. So now 3 moths later I’m playing with it again noted that I’m still thinking this app is a joke. 2 mins into it the word came “Keplar” now this isn’t a random word because I’m a cop and my Keplar (bullet resistant) vest is on my top shelf next to me. So I’m still wondering…

I don’t have the heart to break it to him that Keplar is a random name and KEVLAR is what his vest is made out of.

As I’ve said before, I’m a BIG fan of The Random. I talked about it in detail almost seven years ago:

Music Match is long ago defunct, but the iTunes shuffle feature has nicely taken the place of Auto DJ. When I don’t know what to write about, I put iTunes on shuffle, listen to the songs and do whatever they tell me. It’s a true exercise in creative writing and very helpful to me.

Ghost Radar is yet another way for me to get creative inspiration from randomness. I can just turn it on, collect a few words and write a short story based on them. It rarely produces something I can post on any of my blogs (fiction or otherwise), but it really gets the creative juices flowing.

How Could They Make It Better?

I really wish the programmers for Ghost Radar would take it a step further. Instead of believing their own baloney, I wish they would cross over into full-time chicanery. Here is what I’d like to see Ghost Radar do in future updates:

  • Look up location and spit out words of nearby streets and points of interest based on data from the GPS
  • Access the contacts folder and regurgitate names of people in the contact list or, even better, the recent calls list
  • Listen to the people playing with it and using word recognition, parrot back the words said
  • Scan for laughter and give more words when people interact with it
  • Track the reaction to certain words and give synonyms to the ones that receive more laughter or speaking

In the end, I’ve enjoyed Ghost Radar far more than the 99 cents it cost me. Does it channel the words of non corporeal spirits? No. I don’t even believe it measures electromagnetic fluctuation. Is it entertaining? Hellya.

September 1, 2010

High Tech Turn Ons

Filed under: Audio and Video,PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

I was browsing through my old Seventeen Magazines from 80′s and I found this AWESOME article in the May 1986 issue called High Tech Turn Ons.

High Tech Turn Ons by Seventeen Magazine May 1986 from Flickr

The most interesting gadget is the second one on the list: Pocket Watch by Panasonic from Flickr

Pocket Watch: Liquid crystals may sound like something in a diet drink, but the only thing they make thin is a TV set. A liquid-crystal display (LCD) makes a TV set flat because it replaces the whole picture tube, much as a tiny microprocessor chip replaces a clunky, old-style circuit board. Less than an inch thick, Panasonic’s CT-301 Pocket Watch is the first high quality TV to use a liquid-crystal display. There have been other color TVs with LCDs, but this exceptional new model is the first to deliver a subtly hued, finely detailed TV picture. Measured diagonally, the screen is 3 inches across. $300

Here we are over thirty years later and now 20% of Americans have a tiny TV in their pockets at all times. It ALSO is a phone, a keyboard tutor [iTunes link], music player, and game machine. In fact, my iPhone can replace EVERYTHING that was featured on this High Tech Turn Ons article all for less than the cost of ONE of these items.

After reading this old article, I realized that the future is AMAZING. The iPhone and other smartphones are everything I wished for as a kid and MORE. I thought that I’d have a flying car by now, but I guess I’m willing to forgive that in exchange for my iPhone.

August 23, 2010

PostSecret: I Love You And Hate You

Filed under: eBook Readers and Peripherals,Laptops,PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 9:55 am

This week’s postcards from PostSecret told a couple of interesting stories. Here is the first one:

It reads:

I liked you better before you got your iPhone.

But the second one tells a different story.

It reads:

I’m automatically more attracted to you if you use Apple products.

I found the dichotomy of the two interesting and even laughable. Our computers and cell phones are TOOLS. They shouldn’t make us more or less attractive to others, but they DO. Why?

This strange attraction (revulsion) might go as far back instinctively as our Cro-Magnon days. Those early humans started using tools and the best tools guaranteed survival. Mating with a human with better tools might be like mating with a human with a healthy glow in their skin or wide child-bearing hips. It assures survival of our progeny.

I find it interesting that Apple is able to elicit two very different instincts in people.


PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.

April 26, 2010

Zenses for the iPhone

Filed under: PDAs and Phones,Toys and Games — Laura Moncur @ 2:00 am

Zenses for the iPhoneFor the last two years, I’ve loved Zenses Rainforest for my Nintendo DS. I talked about the game here:

Now that I do most of my game playing on my iPhone, I have been looking for a soothing and relaxing game to lull me to sleep. Imagine my delight when I found my favorite game for the DS was now available on my iPhone!

I downloaded the free app, but I had been perfectly willing to pay for it. After I loaded the game, I realized that it was just a demo version of the stacker game. An in-app 99 cent purchase later, and I had the full version.

Zenses for the iPhoneWith this game, you make stacks of three items of the same shape and color. It differs from the Nintendo version slightly because you can’t make stacks of the same shape with different colors for less points. Sometimes, if I was running out of time, I would make a couple of desperate stacks out of different colors, but that’s not an option with the iPhone version.

One of my favorite aspects of the game is the music. I’m the type of person who immediately turns the music and sound effects off on most games, so the fact that I love the Zenses soundtrack is a testament to their ability to create a soothing atmosphere. When I bought the Nintendo version, they gave me a code to download MP3s of the songs in the game. I still listen to those songs at least once a week. In fact, the only reason I searched the iPhone app store for Zenses this weekend was because of a bout of insomnia in which I lulled myself back to sleep by playing Bejeweled with its sound effects turned off and the Zenses soundtrack playing in the background.

Unlike the Nintendo DS version, there is only ONE game with Zenses Rainforest. Fortunately, it was my favorite from the collection, but there were others that I enjoyed and I’m worried that they won’t be ported over to the iPhone because this game is being marketed with the same name as the multi-game version. I hope to see the other relaxing games show up on the iPhone soon and I’d willing pay extra for the multi-game version on the iPad. Here’s to hoping there is more to come from Zenses.


Update 06-03-10:

I just got an email from Christian at Kiloo

Hi all, I tried to respond to your post about Zenses for the iPhone (written by Laura) but as it didn’t seem to work, I try here instead.

There is indeed more games in the Zenses series on their way to iPhone and iPod touch – we’re actually developing the next one as I type this, so hopefully it wont be too long.

Good to hear you enjoyed the first game in the series :)

Best,
Christian

www.kiloo.com

March 26, 2010

CES 2010: Konnet Shine iPhone Case

Filed under: PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 9:40 am

At CES 2010, Konnet showed off their Shine iPhone Cases. I loved these cases because they are so very shiny.

Konnet Shine iPhone Case

Each case comes with a matching shiny screen protector.

Konnet Shine iPhone Case

The screen was so shiny that I could check out my hair and makeup in its reflection, so I was pretty worried that it would interfere with the screen, but when the iPhone was turned on, the screen showed through sharp and clear.

Konnet Shine iPhone Case

The case itself is slightly translucent.

Konnet Shine iPhone Case

If you’re looking for an iPhone case that will really get noticed, the Shine Metal case from Konnet is a real attention-getter.

March 22, 2010

Is Palm Dead?

Filed under: PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Joy of Tech: Desert PalmThe news in the air is that Palm is dead. They created the Palm Pilot and STARTED the palm computing revolution a decade ago, but what are they doing lately? With their stock plummeting, there are people out there saying that Palm is dead. Even Joy of Tech commented on it:

Considering that Palm was at CES for only one day, didn’t have a booth on the convention floor and only a suite at the Venetian, I’m not surprised by the lackluster earnings. They MUST have known that they were hurting for funds and that’s why they skimped on CES this year.

Here are Kevin Rose’s thoughts on this subject:

Palm IS dead, but they have been dead for a LONG time. It just took the tech world nearly three years to NOTICE their decaying corpse. I knew they were dead when I wrote this entry about putting video on the Treo.

Click here to see the video

It took me a LONG time to just figure out how to convert a movie file and put it on my Treo. If you look at my face in that video, you can just SEE the frustration and exhaustion from dealing with this issue. Instead of an easy way that just worked, I had to jump through hoops, search for software and even write a whole tutorial so I would remember how to do it again.

When Apple released the iPhone and I was able to just download a movie and immediately put it on my phone, I heard the death rattle of Palm from across the country. I imagined all those years of being betrayed by Palm. They made machines that had the capability of playing music and video, but made it so convoluted, complicated and inconvenient that I was never able to get it to work consistently.

That was in JULY of 2007! Palm died a long time ago, folks. It just took you guys three years to notice the smell.

February 9, 2010

CES 2010: Most Beautiful Steampunk Phone from Paramount Collections

Filed under: PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

CES 2010 TeledynamicsAs useless as Teledynamics was for the normal consumer, they had the foresight to show off these beautiful steampunk phones from Paramount Collections.

This is the Paramount Collections 1892 Eiffel Tower Reproduction Phone

Paramount Collections 1892 Eiffel Tower Reproduction Phone

This is the Paramount Collections American Eagle 1911S Reproduction Phone.

Paramount Collections American Eagle 1911S Reproduction Phone

Paramount Collections Biscuit Barrel 1893 Reproduction Phone Black at Amazon.comIf you are looking for an interesting land line phone, Paramount Collections has an entire line of them:

I wish I still had a land line just so I could have one of these gorgeous steampunk phones in my home.

January 29, 2010

iPhone Credit Card Payments with Square

Filed under: PDAs and Phones — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Kevin Rose, of Digg Fame, has jumped into the credit card payment fray with his investment in Square. Here he is, showing it off:

With a Square device and an iPhone, you can accept credit card payments just like any merchant. It’s pretty impressive, actually.

I can accept credit card payments using PayPal, but they don’t have an easy way for me to process a transaction on the go. If I want to accept credit card payments, I need to have a laptop AND wi-fi. They do have a PayPal iPhone App [iTunes Link], but it doesn’t allow me to accept payments with it. It would be nice if they included that feature in a future update.

There are applications at iTunes that let you accept credit card payments, like Swipe Credit Card Terminal [iTunes Link], but you have to type in all the information by hand instead of being able to easily swipe their card. Additionally, they require you to sign up for a merchant account. How Square will handle that issue hasn’t been revealed.

Square looks like a really good idea, but until we know the details, like what fees they will charge, I’m holding off my judgment.

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