Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thing #23

Here we are at the end and evaluating is the task.

Has anything changed as a result of this experience? What were my favorite Things and discoveries? How did I connect with others doing the 23 Mobile Things? Were there any take-aways or unexpected outcomes? What could the program do differently? Would I participate in the future in something similar? How would I describe my learning experience in one word or one sentence?

The value of this program for me is having a better idea of what apps are out there, simple as that. More specifically, I was happy to have a better understanding of the categories of apps that are available. So, awareness of the breadth and depth of apps was the main take-away for me. An unexpected outcome was discovering just how many apps have little or no place in my personal life. There are so many apps available that are useless or extraneous that it helps to have a program such as 23 Mobile Things to wade through the hundreds of possibilities and point the way to those apps that are most robust or most popular. As far as connecting to others who are working through this project, I read a few blogs now and again that were of interest to me, mostly those of my coworkers in the Hennepin County Library system. There's nothing I could suggest that be done differently. I thought the project was easy to follow and cohesive and the apps that were chosen were interesting and represented well the best in their categories. I think the timeline was appropriate and the time allotted adequate. I was surprised to see just how many people abandoned the project and how quickly they did it. I would absolutely participate in a similar opportunity. I wish I had been able to participate in earlier renditions. My favorite Things were a renewed interest in Instagram, Remember the Milk, Viddy, Vine, and Audioboo. I am looking forward to using RoadNinja in July as I road trip with a friend to Montana and Yellowstone National Park. The most valuable thing I learned was an insider's nuts and bolts look at blogging.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thing #22

I checked out Quixey and Apps Gone Free both, but neither really works for me. I've found the best way to discover new apps for my iPhone is to do a Google search and see what my favorite online magazines have recently reviewed and recommended. That list includes PCMag, MacLife, Gizmodo, Time Magazine, TechRadar, and Mashable. By using these sources, I learn what apps are the BEST, not just what apps are new or free. The New York Times technology section is also a good bet, specifically the Bits blog. There you can learn more information about not just how apps work or how successful they are, but details about the developer, financing, and marketplace.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Thing #21

I have a few apps to recommend for this Thing. The first one I'd recommend is called Around Me. It's available from iTunes. I don't know about its availability for Android users. This app sits front and center on my home screen because I use it all the time, especially when I'm traveling, but even around the Twin Cities. As the name indicates, this app informs you about what's "around" you. It lists restaurants and bars, gas stations, hospitals, hotels, post offices, grocery stores, etc. You can also search for specific stores, Target for instance, and it will locate the closest Target to your location. I have found this app to be endlessly useful as I've traveled to Las Vegas, St. Louis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and as a recent transplant to the Twin Cities. Just the other day I was with a friend dropping a car off for repairs in a neighborhood neither of us is familiar with. We wanted to eat lunch and find a bakery. The app directed us to A Baker's Wife Pastry Shop and Pupuseria la Palmera. We had a delicious lunch of cheese and locoro pupusas with fried plantanos con lecheria for desert. The bakery was closed, but we intend to find our way back to it.

Another app I use regularly is called Flixster, the most downloaded movie app of all time. You can browse the top box office movies and movies showing soon, look up show times at your favorite theaters and buy tickets, watch movie trailers, get critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, and view and manage your Netflix queue. It allows you to create a list of favorite movie theaters so the films at the theaters you usually go to are at the top of your phone. If you regularly attend movies, this app is for you.

I recommended the A Beautiful Mess photography app in Thing #9 so I won’t go into detail here except to say it’s a simple and fun app that I regularly use to dress up my Instagram photos.

I also recommend checking out apps from your own bank. My bank, Commerce Bank, has an easy and elegant app that allows me to check my account and do transfers between accounts. I use it regularly.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Thing #20

I rarely use my phone to play games, though I do enjoy playing Sudoko with pencil and paper. I've tried Sudoko on my phone, but it's just not as much fun. For this Thing, I downloaded Word Warp. I spent a fun half an hour trying to create words out of a random group of six letters. I can see turning to this game in the waiting room of the clinic or on an airplane when I'm looking for something light to pass the time and don't feel like reading or doing some other activity. Word Warp would be enjoyable for a range of ages.

Pickin' Stix Classic is an app form of the the game Pick Up Sticks that people might want to take a look at it.        

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thing #19

Hobbies, hobbies, and more hobbies. I can recommend a few more hobby apps: Peterson Field Guide to Backyard Birds, FlowerPedia, and StarWalk. I think StarWalk costs a few bucks, but it's worth it. It's a beautifully designed app.

I downloaded RoadNinja for this Thing in anticipation of a road trip I'm taking with a friend to Montana and Yellowstone National Park this summer. When I first downloaded the app, I was at a friend's house in rural Wisconsin and not a single highway came up! As I write this, sitting here at home, the app shows 21B, the Johnson Street exit a mile and a half away, MN 280, MN 36, and others. The app shows hotels, dining, shopping, gas stations, and even gas prices. I'm excited to see how this app performs on the road.

Thing #18

I'm a regular user of Wikipedia on my phone. I also use it at work to help answer simple reference questions, but most often to give myself a quick overview of an unfamiliar topic so that I'm able to know where to start with complicated research for patrons. Wikipedia has its problems, of course, but I consider it a basic research tool.

I was most interested to spend some time with the Khan Academy app. I was intrigued by the test preparation aspect possibilities, but would have liked to see practice GRE and GED tests offered. I tried several search terms just to check for content and came up empty a surprising number of times. The topic "feminism" got no search results. After spending more time with the app, I realized that I was approaching it as if it's an encyclopedia when it's simply not that comprehensive. In the end, I don't think this app is worth keeping. There was too much uncertainty for me about what might or might not be covered.

Thing #17

I used the Minnesota State Fair app last year while attending "The Great Minnesota Get-Together."  As a native Minnesotan who lived away from the state for a dozen years and just returned a year ago, attending the State Fair was something I happily anticipated. I'd attended only twice before. The app did a good job of connecting me to food, events, restrooms, and showcases. It's a useful app, especially for first-timers.

I downloaded the Superior Hiking, Minneapolis by Open Spaces, and Going Out apps for this Thing. The Minneapolis app didn't work for me. I wasn't able to access the Events or Explore tabs. I found the Going Out app to be useful, especially as a new transplant to the Northeast Minneapolis neighborhood. Using the "near current location" for locating restaurants, bars, movies, and clubs in my area introduced me to places and spaces I hope to explore in the future. I plan to use it to create an itinerary for my mom and sisters who will visit this summer from out of town. I think it would also be helpful to library patrons who are new to their communities. Of course, all of the apps in this Thing serve to connect people to communities.

I downloaded the Highlights of the Superior Hiking Trail app because I have a trip planned to Gooseberry Falls this August. I hate to admit that I wasn't even aware of the Superior Hiking Trail and only recently discovered it when planning the Gooseberry Falls/North Shore trip. It's considered to be one of the top five or so hikes in the United States. This app includes eleven hikes. It gives information about how to get to the hike, the length, a few details about the terrain and difficulty, and trail and parking maps. Maps also show camping sites. I've already told a few people who I know are walking the trail this summer about this app.