All items in the category "Newsstand"

Full category list for displayed posts: Newsstand

Top iOS games of the week

Browsing the App Store can be a bit overwhelming. Which apps are new? Which ones are good? Are the paid ones worth paying for, or do they have a free, lite version that will work well enough?

Every week, we highlight some of the most interesting new apps and collect them here for your consideration. This time, our picks include a home-improvement app, a bunch of motivational quotations, and some virtual flooring.

Here you go:

DIY 4 Beginners

You probably have a few improvements you’d like to make to your home, but it’s possible you have no idea how to do them yourself. Or maybe you do, but you’d like some handy tips on how to store and maintain your paintbrushes or something. This app has you covered either way; it comes from Skil Power Tools, and it contains a wealth of information including tips on removing broken spade handles, tips about proper tool usage, and step-by-step directions on a ridiculous number of projects.

So now I can finally build that deck for my apartment. The landlord will love that.

DIY 4 Beginners – Free | Skil Power Tools

Style My Floor

Style My Floor is a decorating app that lets you sample an assortment of different hardwood materials and styles. And even cooler, you can request a “Quick Key” that’ll let you see how different floors will look in your house. You just print out a PDF, lay it in a corner, and then point your iPhone or iPad camera at it. Magic does the rest.

Or technology. Probably that.

Either way, it hits my “easily impressed” button.

Style My Floor – Free | QuickStep Flooring

Daily Productivity Quote

A lot of apps hope to inspire you to improve yourself and focus by offering you words of wisdom from people whose names you recognize. Like that rather stern one up there, which comes courtesy of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Maybe you’ll get something out of this app, which gives you a new quotation every day to make you work harder and feel better. But I’m going to use it to reply back to coworkers who have silly inspirational quotes in their e-mail signatures. It’s the ultimate passive-aggressive office way of saying, “Leave me alone, and get back to work.”

I’m sure my boss will love that.

Daily Productivity Quotes – Free | Michael Paddock

Cigar

Cigar is a new aggregation app that pulls in new content from crowd-funding site Kickstarter, Netflix, TED Talks, and the App Store and presents it to you in a giant pile for your consideration. You run through them one at a time, swiping up to dismiss ones you don’t like and double-tapping to save some for later.

It can be a little daunting when it throws like 300 things on your stack. But Cigar also e-mails you a digest of things you liked, so you don’t have to go back to the app and sort through your “Liked” list again.

Which is nice.

Cigar – Free | FiveIron Software, LLC

Top iOS apps of the week

Browsing the App Store can be a bit overwhelming. Which apps are new? Which ones are good? Are the paid ones worth paying for, or do they have a free, lite version that will work well enough?

Well, if you stop interrogating me for a second, hypothetical App Store shopper, I can tell you about this thing we do here.

Every week, we highlight some of the most interesting new apps and collect them here for your consideration. This time, our picks include a place to keep your timers, some flirty pics, and the most extensive color app we’ve ever seen.

Here you go:

SinkFoot

Emoji are versatile and cute, but if you want to get a little … direct with your significant other, you have to get pretty creative. SinkFoot wants to help with its small fleet of increasingly specific pictures that you can send via text or e-mail directly from the app. No nudity in here, but if you have a thing for cheerleaders, nurses, doctors, or members of SWAT, SinkFoot will help you communicate that.

Yep. SWAT. I guess that’s a thing.

Anyway, it has some other options, too. Although I’m not sure what this one means. I don’t really see what someone would do with an–Ooooooh. Alright, I get it.

Huh.

SinkFoot – $0.99 | SinkFoot LLC

Alarm Clock Reboot

Snoozing is great, but oversleeping isn’t. That’s why Alarm Clock Reboot approaches rousing you from your slumber in a different way. Instead of waking you up when you tell it to, it starts the process with a series of smaller alarms spread out before your wake time. You tell it when you want to wake up, and it starts the process before that with a series of snooze alarms that build in intensity until they reach your desired alarm time.

It’s a cool idea. The lens flares may be a bit much, but they are pretty sweet.

Alarm Clock Reboot – $0.99 | Every Penny Apps

Scantily

A lot of apps will let you turn your iPhone into a scanner, but Scantilly lets you turn your snapshots into PDFs quickly and easily. All you do is take a picture of the thing you want to preserve, crop it down using a very simple tool, and then you can e-mail it to whomever you want. You can even add extra pages with a single tap, which is pretty handy if you have things to scan other than crudely drawn cartoons of dubious quality.

Not that I know anything about that.

Scantily – Free | Ashe Avenue

Scooby

This timer app might not be super useful for everyone, but if you have certain things that you time regularly, you might want to check it out. Scooby lets you build up a list of items and timers that you can easily access anytime you want to save yourself the slight inconvenience of setting the one on your iPhone.

I’m going to use it for the shared washer and dryer in my apartment building because neighbors appreciate it when people don’t leave their clothes in there forever, Steve.

Scooby – Free | Stephen Walsh

Color Suite

Color Suite is a ridiculously comprehensive color-identification app with an easy sampling tool and a wealth of information. Just point the little dot at the color you want to identify, and it’ll tell you pretty much everything about it, including its complementary color, how it appears to eight different kinds of color-blindness, and even which Crayola is most similar.

It actually has an insanely long list of products you can match, like several brands of house paints, colored pencils, and make-up.

So basically, if you see a color, you can use that color for everything. This app really, really wants you to do that.

Color Suite – Free | Chocodev

Why Tim Cook’s green push goes back to Apple’s roots

Screen_Shot_2014-04-23_at_21

Less than a decade ago, Apple was singled out by Greenpeace as one of the least environmentally-friendly tech companies on the planet.

Apple has since turned over a new leaf, embracing environmentalism as something every bit as central to the company as the latest iPhone.

Just how important became evident a few months ago, when, during a routine earnings call, Cook spoke of his dream for Apple as a “force for good in the world beyond our products.” The recent global celebrations for Earth Day for the first time in nearly a decade mean that his dream is closer to becoming a reality.

So what changed exactly?

Environmental protesters in 2012 block coal trains meant to power Apple's Maiden, NC data facility.

Environmental protesters in 2012 block coal trains meant to power Apple’s Maiden, NC data facility.

“When I was at Apple from 1999 to 2005, sustainability was pretty much an afterthought,” says Abraham Farag, a former senior mechanical engineer of product design at Apple. Farag describes Apple’s approach to being green at the time as “lip service.”

Under Steve Jobs, Apple’s refusal to embrace sustainability came down to two principle factors: cost and design. For example, recycling plants wanted components which weighed over 25 grams to be marked with a special code so that they could be properly recycled. “But the marks were not pretty so Apple wouldn’t put them on,” Farag says. “Sustainability [organizations] want different materials to be attached in a method that was able to be separated later for recycling. No way we could alter the design for that consideration. Pure looks trumped any possible consideration for sustainability.”

Abraham Farag during his time at Apple.

Abraham Farag during his time at Apple.

Of the 16 mentions of the word “environment” that appear in Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Steve Jobs, all except one have to do with the environment (read: the mood and corporate ethos) inside technology companies. Jobs was a man who wanted to shape environments, not be shaped by the environment.

The same is true for the appearance of other words like “sustainability,” “green,” and other buzzwords that will likely appear time and again in the Tim Cook biography, when it is written. The only mention of the word “recycling” is in the context of an annoyance: a plane which flew overhead during Jobs’ famous Stanford commencement address, waving a banner which read “Recycle all e-waste” and threatening to distract  listeners.

Apple’s environmental tussles reached their nadir in 2005, when the company got into a spat with Greenpeace International. Greenpeace slammed Apple for its use of toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process, and also for its lack of a recycling program. Jobs stood up for Apple’s environmental efforts at first — particularly when compared to competitors — but soon agreed that changes needed to be made. From mid-2006, Apple began phasing out CRTs and replacing them with LCD monitors, which met the European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electronics, years before the EU deadline for compliance.

Apple additionally focused on lowering the power requirements of many of its products in general, which scored high Energy Star ratings, as well as gold ratings from the Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool (EPEAT), which attempts to measure products’ environmental impact over their lifespans — taking into account energy use, recyclability, and the manufacturing process. Products were also redesigned with recycling in mind — seen by choices like the decision to switch from plastic to aluminum for Macs.

Despite its "flower power" theme, the plastic used by early iMacs made them difficult to recycle.

Despite this computer’s “flower power” theme, the plastic used by early iMacs made them difficult to recycle.

While Jobs got the lion’s share of the credit, behind the scenes two of the driving forces behind the “greening” of Apple were reportedly Tim Cook and Jony Ive. As both began to get more power within the company, Apple’s focus on sustainability grew.

What was key about Cook and Ive being sustainability advocates was their placement within Apple. Since both had considerable operating autonomy, they were able to get things done that predecessors with similar ideas had never been able to. For instance, while Abraham Farag was employed at Apple he recalls the company hiring a former colleague he had worked with at IDEO. She was brought on with the job title of program manager for Environmental Technologies and Strategies Group within R&D; charged with tracking environmental attributes for all new hardware projects.

There was just one problem, however: she was the only one doing this at the time.

“Imagine with everything Apple was doing they [only] had one person looking at the environmental impacts,” Farag says. “[There’s simply] no way one person could have much impact without very strong top-down support, which she didn’t get. She certainly tried, but it was an impossible task.”

Apple has embraced alternative energy source like solar power and hydroelectric power for its data centers.

With Cook and Ive now the two most powerful people at Apple,  the focus on environmental factors has gained steam. In May 2013, Cook announced that Apple had hired the former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, to serve as its top environmental adviser.

“Apple has shown how innovation can drive real progress by removing toxics from its products, incorporating renewable energy in its data center plans, and continually raising the bar for energy efficiency in the electronics industry,” Jackson said around the time she joined. “I look forward to helping support and promote these efforts, as well as leading new ones in the future aimed at protecting the environment.”

New reports coming out of Apple have continued the stress the company’s breakthrough green products — from a Mac Pro which uses less than half the allowable energy limit, to a focus on the environment in Apple’s latest Supplier Responsibility Progress Report.

Cook has also sorted out the last of the major sticking points for Apple’s green credentials: its data centers, which saw Apple ranked dead last out of various tech companies in a 2011 Greenpeace report. Jump forward just a few years, and Apple has embraced alternative energy source like solar power and hydroelectric power for its data centers, as part of its pledge to use 100% renewable energy to power all of its facilities.

Similar sentiments are behind the decision for Apple’s $5.5 billion Cupertino “spaceship” headquarters to have 70% of its power provided on-site by photovoltaics and fuel cells, with the remaining power covered by sustainable “green sources” in California.

Sustainability is a key theme of Apple's forthcoming Apple 2 campus

Sustainability is a key theme of Apple’s forthcoming Apple 2 campus

“This is a Tim Cook initiative,” says former Apple CEO John Sculley, speaking with Cult of Mac about Apple’s drive toward promoting sustainability as one of its primary goals. While Sculley notes that Jobs was responsible for a great many groundbreaking innovations, he has it on good authority that Cook is the one who has driven Apple’s embrace of sustainability.

“This is a Tim Cook initiative,” says former Apple CEO John Sculley.

The company’s green direction may look like a marketing stunt. After all, this is hardly an area that Apple is coming to early.

But it is something that Tim Cook feels strongly about. A cool and collected CEO with none of Jobs’ reputation for tantrums, Cook has lost his temper very few times publically while at the helm of Apple. One of those occasions came in March this year, however, when he was pushed by the conservative think tank National Center for Public Policy Research to disclose the cost of Apple’s sustainability programs.

Claiming that ethical decisions sometimes trump financial ones, Cook snapped that he didn’t “consider the bloody ROI” (return-on-investment) when it came to promoting sustainability. “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he said.

Cook has often sounded too much like a person impersonating Steve Jobs during his stint as CEO: saying the kinds of things Steve might say, but without Jobs’ charisma and ability to distort reality with his “gee whiz” boy inventor proclamations.

When Cook narrated Apple’s recent Earth Day commercial, though, it came across as Cook speaking about a subject he felt passionate about, that you couldn’t imagine coming out of Jobs’ mouth.

By embracing the eco-friendly roots of the Whole Earth Catalog, Tim Cook has found a way to stand out as CEO.

By embracing the eco-friendly roots of the Whole Earth Catalog, Tim Cook has found a way to stand out as CEO.

At the same time, the ad — and the overall vision for Apple — works because it makes total sense given the company’s ethos. Apple might only have embraced environmentalism lately, but its identity owes a great deal to organizations like the Whole Earth Catalog — the hippie-tech magazine Jobs mentioned during his Stanford commencement address. The phrase “Stay hungry, stay foolish” came from that magazine’s founder, Stewart Brand, who stayed in touch with Jobs his entire life.

Brand’s 1960s vision was for a combining of personal technology with the kind of back-to-nature thinking prevalent in counterculture circles. Jobs took many of the Whole Earth Catalog’s ideas, but instead of using them to refer to the literal ecosystem, he used them as metaphors for the kind of tech ecosystem Apple runs on today — where sales in the App Store, drive iPhone sales, which drive iPad sales, and so on.

Tim Cook’s vision for Apple as a green company brings Apple back in line with that ideology — minus the metaphor.

At a time when new earning reports coming out of Apple are spun as negatives once again by certain analysts (despite another record quarter), and the world is still awaiting the next breakthrough Apple innovation, Cook may have given it to us with Apple’s rethought approach to sustainability.

His belief in Apple as an environmental “force for good” speaks more of a man evolving what Apple stands for as a company — rather than continuing to rule over the kind of “haunted empire” Yukari Iwatani Kane described Apple as in her recent book.

It might not be an iWatch, but perhaps this will ultimately prove to be Tim Cook’s lasting legacy at Apple.

And, hey, it’s never bad when Apple gets to point out how it genuinely “thinks different” to competitors like Samsung.

This Week’s Best New Books, Movies And Music On iTunes

picksoftheweek

Rather than slogging through a lake of reviews to find something you’re just going to put down after 10 minutes, Cult of Mac has once again waded through the iTunes store to compile a list of the best new albums, books and movies to come out this week.

We’ve some hard-rocking Flamenco (!), a love story that stars Siri, and a moving book about the Civil Rights Act.

Enjoy!

Rodrigo y Gabriela9 Dead Alive
9deadalive

Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero had trouble launching their careers as heavy metal rockers in Mexico, so they turned to something more traditional: Flamenco. Your eardrums will be shocked how well the heavy guitar licks from metal translate into traditional Spanish folk music. No dueling guitar duo is more entertaining than Rodrigo y Gabriela, especially as they opt for a more minimalist production on their fifth studio album 9 Dead Alive, giving it the feeling of an intimate conversation between two virtuosos.

iTunes – $9.99

OughtMore Than Any Other Day
ought

Montreal-based Ought hit the music scene this week with their debut album, More Than Any Other Day, that is electrifying, endearing, and bubbling with thoughts on disaffection and dislocation. The band’s talkative brand of art-punk is full of anxious energy thanks to singer Tim Beeler’s lyrics that flip between panic and ecstasy over the band’s gritty grooves.

iTunes – $7.92

Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
Damon-Albarn-Everyday-Robots

After serving as the frontman of Blur for 20 years, Damon Albarn has perfected the art of writing sad songs, so why should his first solo album be any different? Albarn combines dub-oriented elements with a dazed electronic ambience that’s rich in emotional depth. Albarn’s experimental rock simplicity provides the perfect notes of melancholy as he reflects on the album’s theme of isolation in the digital age.

iTunes – $14.99

Movies

Her

her_xlg

What happens when you fall in love with Siri? That’s pretty much the plot for Spike Jonze’s acclaimed film, Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix as a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching letters. Heartbroken after the end of long relationship, he is intrigued with an advanced new operating system called “Samantha” (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) to which he finds himself developing an unconventional love for.

iTunes – $19.99

Blue Ruin

blueruinposter

Blue Ruin follows Dwight, a gentle Southern drifter who embarks on a mission of vengeance once he learns of a convict’s release from prison. Extracting revenge proves more difficult than imagined, and Dwight finds himself on the run from an escalating cycle of bloodshed that threatens to consume him in this darkly entertaining indie thriller.

iTunes – $19.99

The Legend of Hercules

hercules

Hollywood loves making the same movie twice, so before you go watch Dwayne Johnson don the mantle of Ancient Greece’s most epic hero this summer in Hercules, you should catch Kellan Lutz in the titular role of The Legend of Hercules on iTunes to see who wins the title of most bad ass dude in a loincloth.

iTunes – $14.99

Books

Natchez Burning
by Greg Iles

natchezburning

Greg Iles returns with an explosive crime thriller set in his hometown of Natchez, Mississippi. The novel weaves the legacy of the Deep South’s disturbing racial violence of the 60’s, into the narrative of Penn Cage (the mayor of Natchez in 2005) and small-town doctor father who was accused of murdering a black nurse.

iTunes – $12.99

The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act
by Clay Risen
billofthecentury

After being submitted to the racist bile of Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy, we could all probably use a little reminder on the battles America has been through just to pass the Civil Rights act, as well as the obstacles still ahead, which is exactly what Clay Risen offers in his new book The Bill of the Century.

iTunes – $14.99

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace
by Nikil Saval

cubed

Cubed reveals the unexplored yet surprising story of the places where most of the world’s work gets done. From open farm cubicle plans to The Office, Cubed gives readers the fascinating story of how the white-collar work world came to be the way it is, and what might lay ahead.

iTunes – $11.99

Gadget Watch Apr 30 2014

Gadget Watch Apr 30 2014

Each week we pull the best Apple-related gadgets from the Cult of Mac and collect them here for your perusing pleasure.

Read the rest of this post »

Gadget Watch Apr 24 2014

Each week we pull the best Apple-related gadgets from the Cult of Mac and collect them here for your perusing pleasure.

Read the rest of this post »

This Week’s Best New Music, Movies And Books On iTunes

picksoftheweek

Rather than slogging through a lake of reviews to find something you’re just going to put down after 10 minutes, Cult of Mac has once again waded through the iTunes store to compile a list of the best new albums, books and movies to come out this week.

We’ve got a rap-tastic future you’ll either love or hate, a yummy comeback from Kelis, a dark indie movie you may have missed and a soul-searching memoir from Barbara Ehrenreich.

Enjoy!

Music

FutureHonest

Future-Honest_V2b_R2

You will either love or hate Hate HATE Future. His raw, emotive, and heavily Auto-Tuned rap vocals have caused a split among rap fans, but we love it, especially paired with a heavy hitter like Pusha T on “Move That Doe.” Honest surges with a new self-assurance of the artist coming into his own as Future has become more comfortable letting the grit of his rap show. Anchored by giants like Kanye West, Drake, Pharrell, Wiz Kalifa, and Pusha T, Future’s second LP is the rap album you can’t miss this week.

iTunes – $12.99

Neon TreesPop Psychology

poppsycology

Neon Trees are the pop-alt icons of the aughts. Their catchy electric tunes induce involuntary foot-taps, head bops, and before you know it you’re singing along whether you like it or not.  Pop Psychology is the inevitable progression from hits like “Everybody Talks” and “Animal,” but it also contains deeper conflicts as singer Tyler Glen opens up about coming out of the closet in an all-Mormon town.

iTunes – $7.99

KelisFood

kelis-food

When I think of Kelis, my mind naturally turns to milkshakes bringing boys to yards, but on Food Kelis sheds both her contemporary R&B sound as well as the futuristic electro-pop that made Acappella a hit, in favor feast of impeccable soul melodies served next to sweaty funk grooves. Food is different from anything else she’s made in her career and boy, is it delicious.

iTunes -$9.99

Books

Struck By Genius
by Jason Padgett

Struck by Genius

At 31 years-old, Jason Padgett was a dude who cared more about his biceps than his career. Ironically, a savage mugging forever altered the way his brain works, giving him unique gifts like the ability to see water in crystalline patterns or fractal patterns emerging from the movement of tree branches. His unique case of acquired savant syndrome makes Struck by Genius a fascinating read as Padgett recounts how he overcame huge setbacks and embraced his new mind.

iTunes – $12.99

The Remedy
by Thomas Goetz

theremedy

In 1875, tuberculosis was the deadliest disease in the world, causing over a third of all deaths. The Remedy presents the riveting history of the world’s most lethal disease, but also taps into the life of Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his link to the birth of medical science by exploring his history of debunking a lauded TB cure.

iTunes – $13.99

Living with a Wild God
by Barbara Ehrenreich
91X9i5rpkdL._SL1500_

Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most important thinkers of our time. Not only is she an educated scientist,but she’s also an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice. In Living With A Wild God, Ehrenreich recounts her quest to find truth about the universe and everything else, presenting a book that can be enjoyed by the religious and atheists alike.

iTunes – $12.99

Movies

Small Time

small_time_xlg

I only watched Small Time because as a Breaking Bad fan, I’m hoping that Dean Norris (Hank) can make it in comedies as well. He doesn’t get as much screen time as I hoped for in this comedy about a high school graduate who shuns college to work at his dad’s used car lot, but the moments he does get in provide the perfect amount of relief in this heartwarming comedy.

iTunes – $12.99

Omar

omar

Turning political issues into effective personal stories is incredibly difficult – possibly more so when the backdrop is set in Palestine – but that’s exactly what filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad does in Omar, a 2014 Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Film. The film’s titular character is a amiable baker who conspires to gun down an Israeli solider with two friends. Omar is subsequently captured, tortured, imprisoned, and then forced to make a horrible bargain for his freedom.

iTunes – $4.99

Favor

Favor-Poster

Favor is a riveting indie-gem about Kip Desmond, an affluent guy with a beautiful wife. Kip’s lifestyle isn’t that interesting, but when the waitress he’s been sleeping with on the side is accidentally killed all hell breaks loose and Kip finds himself committing horrible act, the kind he never suspected himself capable of, with his buddy Marvin.

iTunes – $12.99

Top iOS Apps Of The Week

Browsing the App Store can be a bit overwhelming. Which apps are new? Which ones are good? Are the paid ones worth paying for, or do they have a free, lite version that will work well enough?

Every week, we highlight some of the most interesting new apps and collect them here for your consideration. This time, our picks include a timer inside of another timer, something to keep track of where you’ve been, and some fancy new fonts for your iWork.

Here you go:

Traveler's Badges

It’s nice having some record of the places you’ve visited, but FourSquare is a little granular for my liking.

Traveler’s Badges keeps it simple and broad. You just let it detect your location, and it generates a unique badge for your current city that you can collect and add to your collection. It even logs the date and time you were there, in case anyone asks.

If you want to get all global with it, you can even display all of your badges on a map. It’s not the most practical app, but it is pretty cute (and free). And it’ll kill like five seconds of a layover. Every bit helps.

Traveler’s Badges – Free | Yangfan Qi

Practice Time

If you’re doing interval training or something else that requires you to time one thing and then another thing, like, right away, you might be interested in Practice Time. It’s a new app that lets you set up two countdowns and then run them consecutively. You can also tell it how many cycles to go through once you start.

It’s handy for timing exercise and then rest or if you want to be really persnickety about those instructions that tell you to leave soup in the microwave for a minute after it’s done cooking. And if you also timed the cooking concurrently with the microwave.

Nevermind; just use it for intervals.

Practice Time – Free | Mal Function

Spell Checker

Sometimes, you’re just typing an e-mail or note on your iPhone, and you realize that you have no idea how to spell the next word you want to use. It could be genuine ignorance, it could be a brain fart, but the person on the other end isn’t going to care why; they’ll just notice the mistake.

Spell Checker wants to help you out. It accesses your onboard dictionary to keep you from looking dumb. And because it uses the built-in resources, it even works offline.

You know, in case you’re writing an e-mail in a cave that you would want to send after you left the cave. It could happen.

Spell Checker – Free | Paradigm Agnostic

Install New Fonts

Your iPhone and iPad already have some fonts on board, but what if you want to make something that looks like it was stenciled or written in cursive? Or maybe you just like knowing that you have like 800 typefaces to choose from, just in case? Install New Fonts has you covered with enough options to keep you out of trouble for a while.

It’s free to download, but most of it is locked behind a $2.99 in-app purchase. But everything’s licensed for commercial use, so think of it as an investment.

Install New Fonts – Free | Denis Tokarev

Keep Calm and Breathe On

Every once in a while, I find an app that shows me just how much I need it. This time, it’s Keep Calm and Breathe On, which offers you seven guided breathing exercises (based on cycles per minute). The goal is to relax you and “calm your heart activity,” and when I tried it out for this write-up, I realized that I’m apparently really bad at breathing.

It has two sounds to accompany your oxygenation: Wind and River. I preferred the wind. It just made more sense because if I’m in a river, breathing might be a problem. And that’s less than calming.

Keep Calm & Breathe On – $0.99 | Commit GmbH

Review Roundup: Waterproof Speakers For Spring Excursions

Review Roundup: Waterproof Speakers For Spring Excursions

This week we get ready for springtime excursions with three portable speakers that shrug off splashes and are happy to be used in the shower. Which one will you take to the lake, pool or beach? Let’s take a look.

Read the rest of this post »

Essential Kit For Your Digital Music Making

Bluetooth Guitar Pedal Will Thrill Your Ears But Hurt Your Brain
DSC05111

IK Multimedia is responsible for a veritable boat-load of music peripherals and apps, like the hard-rocking guitar crunch of effects app Amplitube and the portable MIDI keyboard iRig Keys. If you’re a musician interested in working with iOS devices on stage, IK Multimedia is the place to go.

iRig BlueBoard by IK Multimedia
Category: Music Peripherals
Works With: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch
Price: $99.99

It was with excitement, then, that I opened the latest review gadget from the musical company, the iRig BlueBoard, a small footprint Bluetooth-enabled pedal board meant to help you switch effects in a guitar app like Amplitube or piano sounds in something like iLectric Piano, both IK Multimedia apps.

The BlueBoard is a great idea, especially if you’re working with a guitar or keyboard hooked up to an iPad or iPhone. Being able to switch settings on the fly with a foot-operated switch is something I do all the time with my analog guitar foot pedals. Having it do so via Bluetooth is even better, as it won’t take up the 30-pin or Lightning connector, leaving that free to connect a guitar or MIDI interface, like the iRig HD guitar adapter or the iRig Keys.

Unfortunately, that’s where the great idea stops and the difficult to figure out begins.

Read the rest of this post »