WIP Weds… or not

Okay, this is the point where I’m supposed to share my crafting progress pictures. Except… this week I don’t have any. Instead of doing much knitting (or crochet or sewing or anything else) I’ve been playing Stardew Valley.

What is Stardew Valley? It’s a farming (and foraging and adventuring and mining…) simulator game for many consoles and on PC/Mac. I’ve heard it compared to Harvest Moon, if you know that game. (I haven’t played it.) Time management is crucial here, but it’s pretty good (at least at the beginning – I’m in Fall of Year One) at reminding you about important dates.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some corn to harvest.

 

App Review

It’s been a while since I’ve done an app review on the blog, so let’s do one now, shall we? Especially since I didn’t see a Ten on Tuesday prompt for the week.

Here are 5 of my current favorite apps for the iPhone. Apologies to those of you with other types of smartphones, but as I don’t have any of them I can’t do reviews for your phones specifically. You may be able to find these apps on your phones as well, but no promises. If I know about other platforms for these apps, I will list them. However, I may not end up finding them all… the only platform I know they exist on FOR SURE is the iPhone, since that’s what I have them for.

1. Scurvy Scallywags (game, match-three style)

This game is a hilarious take on the classic match-three game. (Match-three being games like Bejeweled, Candy Crush, etc.) It uses pirate treasure as the items to match instead of the common jewels, but then it adds a twist. It also adds pirates to the items to match, and when your pirate is next to an enemy pirate, you either have to move them apart again, or match them to fight. There are quests to complete, ships to build, and shanty song verses to collect (and listen to). It’s all quite amusing, and probably my Game Of The Year (even though it’s only June).

Best of all, it’s only $0.99 on iTunes.

2. Any.DO (to-do list and reminder app)

I have been looking for a good to-do list app for a long time. I’ve tried most of the decent-looking free ones, and I may have bought one or two of the cheaper paid apps, too. Nothing I found worked for me (including Apple’s Reminders app) until I tried Any.DO. This will set time reminders, and lets you make lists inside lists. There is also a location-based reminder, but that’s new and I haven’t fully tested it yet. It seems like it will work nicely, though. I also like that there is a linked web browser app for Chrome. (They were talking about porting it to other browsers too when I last looked, but I don’t know if they’ve made any progress on that yet.)

This one is available for iPhone, Android, and Chrome. Info is on iTunes or their website.

3. Fitbit (fitness tracker, calorie counter, & sleep tracker)

I use this app to track all kinds of things. My weight, my steps, my sleep… all kinds of things. However, I also have a Fitbit One pedometer, and I don’t know how well it would work without the linked pedometer. I do love the pedometer too, by the by, which (in addition to other things) is a great silent alarm for workdays. One thing I do not use Fitbit for is calorie counting. I find that it doesn’t have nearly as good a selection of food items compared to other similar apps. (see below)

This is a free app found on iTunes here. It does have a linked website & app, though you may need a Fitbit pedometer (there are various types) in order to use this. I don’t know.

4. My Fitness Pal (calorie counter & fitness tracker)

I pair this app with my Fitbit app for calorie counting. They sync with each other nicely, and THIS one has a lot larger database of foods. I also like the barcode scanning feature to find food items. That makes things a lot easier for me.

Again, this is a free app on iTunes, with a linked website. (I don’t use the website, though.)

5. Feedly (feed reader app, my probable replacement for Google Reader)

I am sad that Google Reader is going away. But since it is, I have decided to try out Feedly, and so far I like it well enough. There are things I really like (it’s PRETTY!), things I kinda like (such as the wide variety of swipe commands), and things I’m not sure I like (can’t figure out what I want my start page to be, but I don’t like the default). I’m still working with it. We’ll see how well it grows on me long term.

Found on iTunes, as well as a website that I haven’t used but is found here.

Phone It In

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged with some of my favorite iPhone apps, so I’m going to publish a new list. Some of these may be duplicates, and others will be new. I’ll try to make a note of whether the app is a free or paid app.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Apple, nor any of the companies that make apps. I am just a user and a fan. However, if anyone wanted to GET me a job at Apple, I wouldn’t turn it down. You know, if it was a job I actually could do. Just sayin’.

  1. Where’s My Water? (paid & free versions, published by Disney) – very fun game! And it has secret levels.
  2. Snapseed (probably paid, but possible free version – I got mine from a Starbucks download card) – photo app, with lots of good editing capabilities.
  3. Chipotle (free) – you can order your Chipotle food from home, show up, and pick it up. No waiting in those crazy lines. Very nice.
  4. Carcassonne (paid) – an iPhone/iPad version of the board game, complete with computer opponents or solitaire mode. And the multi-player option actually works really well.
  5. DLR Lines (free app, 30-day trial of features, needs subscription for best access) – only actually useful if you go to Disneyland a lot. Which (as you probably know) I do. It’s got tons of good information for trip planning and crowd data.
  6. MouseWait (free) – another Disneyland app, this one focuses on ride times and is really only as good as the user-provided data.
  7. My Fitness Pal (free) – a calorie tracking app, which helps you to determine your intake for the day. It also calculates the impact of your cardiovascular activity and gives you credit for calories burned.
  8. Wooly (paid) – a fiber craft app that works with Ravelry.com. Lets you load photos to your projects and access your project pages. I’ve been told by the developers that they are hard at work at an update which will let you edit your Ravelry projects from the app. Looking forward to that!
  9. Nuts! (free) – you play a squirrel running up a tree, trying to collect things and avoid running into branches. Simple, and pretty basic. And surprisingly addictive.
  10. NOT Facebook (free) – yes, I use the Facebook app. But I do NOT like it. I will often quit the app and use the mobile browser because it’s actually a better user experience than the app. Given how many people use Facebook, and use it ON THEIR PHONES, you’d think they’d actually make a good app. Oh well.

Anybody have another good iPhone app I should try out?

Gaming Done Disney

So, usually I have been blogging about reading on Fridays. Not so today! I think many of you know that I am a Disneyphile. Several of you also know that I am a gamer.

There is a logical conclusion which combines these two loves: Epic Mickey.

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I’ve been playing it with my boyfriend for a while now, but haven’t yet made mention of it on the blog. And I think it needs to be mentioned.

This is a fabulous game. I love the art and the concept. I like the gameplay. I LOVE the puns and the tweaks made to the real Disneyland and the twisted music which is so like themes you know but isn’t.

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(I have one gripe, and it is the camera control. If I had two, the second would be the lack of ability to skip the film reels once you have bested them. For those who haven’t played the game, the film reels are how you travel between lands. I personally think that you should have the option to skip it once you have beaten it. Granted, some are difficult to navigate, but mostly they just become tedious once you’ve gone through them a couple times. Or, in the case of the reel between Mean Street and OsTown, a couple DOZEN times.)

Um. For those who haven’t heard much about it, the basic premise is that Mickey is sucked through a Looking Glass (think Alice) into an alternate reality where a twisted version of Disneyland exists. This version is called Wasteland, and was created for those designs of Walt’s which were forgotten. Creations like Oswald the Lucky Rabbit and Horace Horsecollar. (I know, not all of us have forgotten them. But they are nowhere near as well known as, say, Mickey Mouse.)

At times I wonder why they don’t use the real names for the attractions in the game. For instance, there’s an obvious Dumbo, but it’s called The Elephant Ride. Small World is just called a Boat Ride, though it is more specifically named (for instance) the Asia Boat Ride when you’re in the Asian section of the attraction.

On the other hand, I do understand in some cases where they don’t. “Mean Street” works as a name in place of Main Street. “Ventureland” is a fun play on the real ADventureland. “Lonesome Manor” is obviously the Haunted Mansion.

ToonTown, though, is the one I like the best. The Epic Mickey version is called OsTown, and if you look at the hills where the name is up in big white letters, the first T and O are knocked over, and the N is twisted sideways to make an S. Very fun.

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With characters it just gets odd. Some keep their real names, like Smee and Captain Hook, but others do not – such as Tinkerbell, who becomes the Sprite, or Madam Leota (from the Haunted Mansion) who is renamed Madam Leona. I haven’t been able to determine a reason for it all.

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Regardless of my sometime-confusion and occasional griping about the camera control (rather, lack of) I love this game. The only reason I didn’t buy it earlier was that it is exclusive to the Wii, so until we had a Wii on which to play it…

At any rate. If you HAVE a Wii, and are a fan of all things Disney, what are you waiting for? Buy this game.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to post about love. Not how-things-are-with-the-boyfriend; that’s more private than I want to get on here right now. And not sex-scenes-in-books; that’s not exactly about love, now is it? No, I want to post about geek love. Specifically, iPhone apps I adore.

(I think that, seeing as Verizon now has a bunch of people who can use iPhones as well, I will also post a list of some tips and tricks I have found to be useful. I imagine that most if not all of them will be the same on Verizon as AT&T, but since I haven’t had a chance to test that out yet with someone’s Verizon iPhone, I can’t say for sure.)

15 iPhone apps I love, sorted by category but not otherwise in any particular order

GAMES

1. Carcassone — not only is it a fun board game, it translates well to become a fun iPhone game. Also, the graphics are pretty. And the music isn’t annoying the way so much app music is.

2. Cut the Rope — heh. Amusing, silly, and the little monster you are feeding makes the cutest sounds.

3. Angry Birds Seasons — so much more fun than the traditional Angry Birds. I especially loved the way the Christmas one was an advent calendar, and you had to wait for the next day to play the next level. (Also that this meant you could play a level based on what day it was even if you hadn’t beaten the previous level.)

4. Crazy Penguin Catapult (1 & 2) — I loved this before I knew about Angry Birds, and I still like it better. I mean, really. When you fling a penguin somewhere and your aim is off, it doesn’t bounce the way the Angry Birds do. It splats against the wall. So much more satisfying.

5. Prince of Persia (Retro) — as in, the original game. With the original cut scenes and the original music. So awesome. Granted, I have not yet played much of it on my iPhone because the controls are hard to manouver, but still. When I eventually have an iPad to play it on, I think it will be easier. I can’t wait.

6. Skee-Ball — it’s Skee-Ball. This should be sufficient reason. If it’s not, just look at the ability to change to custom ball and lane decorations, and all the fun prizes you can buy with your tickets. Spider rings! Bouncy balls! Nuclear submarines!

DISNEY

7. Toy Story Mania — it’s a game, but it’s also Disney. It’s the next best thing to being on the attraction itsef. The only problem I have with this app is that it won’t let me check-in when I’m at the attraction. (I’ve tried from the line, from the gift shop, from the loading area, and from inside the show building itself. I have always gotten an “you are not at the Toy Story Midway Mania attraction” error message even though I couldn’t get at the attraction any more if I tried. Major Fail.)

8. MouseWait — I could tell you right now what the wait time is for Pirates of the Carribean. Or for Space Mountain. Not that it will do me any good unless I actually am at Disneyland, but still. It’s good to know that I could get on BTMRR in five minutes if I *was* there.

KNITTING

9. KnitBuddy — until Ravelry gets an iPhone app, this is the closest thing I’ve found. Of course, I haven’t input much into it since I have to type it all on my touch screen, but it’s good for recording things I want to remember. Also, it has very customizable row counters, which I love.

10. KnitEvenly — for those times when you have to increase or decrease to a certain number of stitches, this will tell you when to do those in/decreases. No knitting math needed. Hooray!

PHOTOGRAPHY

11. Flickr — if you have a Flickr account and take pictures on your phone, this is a must. It makes uploading them so much easier than syncing to your computer first.

12. Color Splash — a fun app for photos that lets you make a photo greyscale and then choose what parts of it you want in color. It doesn’t do much in the way of photo retouching, but what it does it does well.

13. Photo Funia — another fun photo app: this one takes your photos and retouches them in any number of ways. It mostly inserts them into other photos; for instance it will make your photo the billboard on a stock photo. Or it will pull faces from your photo and insert them into the faces on its photos. Lots of fun to play with.

MUSIC

14. Pandora Radio — free streaming music. Need I say more?

15. Ringtone Maker Pro — there is a free version as well, but I have the paid version. It lets you make custom ring tones based on the music stored to your phone. You do have to be at your computer to sync the new sounds back and forth before you can use the ringtones, but it’s better than the iTunes version in my opinion.

There are more apps I love, but I don’t want to go on about it *all* day…

And as for tips & tricks… (you may have to set some of these up in the preferences, I’m not positive)

* double-clicking the home button when the phone is locked brings up a mini iPod control bar. Great for playing music in the car or while at the gym. (If you most recently played music or videos from a different app, however, it should pull that up instead.)

* you can set your iPod to “shake to shuffle”, which is a great way to easily switch songs. However, if you have this set, the phone needs to be unlocked for it to work. And it might think you have shaken the phone when you didn’t actually intend to…

* if you want to lock the screen orientation, double-click the home button when the screen is unlocked and swipe the bottom bar from left to right. The icon at the far left of the bar (which is next to another mini iPod control bar) will lock the screen orientation. It will only lock in Portrait orientation, but better than nothing.

* cut/copy & paste is a great function. Use it well.

* the multi-touch feature has really evolved nicely. There are so many things you can do with it! You can double tap with one finger on the map (on the included Google Map app) to zoom in, or double-tap with two fingers to zoom out. You can pinch to zoom, too. Ditto for sizing photos. And so many apps are now using multi-touch as well. It’s great.

* the included earbuds have nifty tricks, too. The volume rocker is (to all appearances) pretty self-explanatory. Click the top to raise the volume, click the bottom to lower it. But did you know that you can also voice-dial using the same button? Press and hold the center of the volume rocker, and after a moment it will beep at you and be ready to accept instruction. Or, hold the center of the button during a call, and it will hang up for you. It works for music, too: the volume controls are the same, but clicking in the center (don’t hold) will start your iPod playing.

Anyway… that should be plenty of tips for now. And for those of you WITHOUT iPhones who have made it this far, congrats! You receive a gold star for managing to not be bored during a blog post that has absoluetly nothing to do with you!

Slacker? Who, me?

. . . Okay. I admit it. I am indeed a slacker.

I was supposed to write a Round of Words blog post yesterday. I didn’t. (I played Epic Mickey instead. Awesome, awesome game, especially for a Disney fanatic like yours truly.) I planned to write one today to make up for it. I didn’t. (I helped cook dinner instead. That seemed rather important at the time.)

Suffice it to say that I have been more-or-less meeting my goals so far. Also that in February I will be aiming for 200 words/daily at a minimum, 5 days a week. (I had mentioned setting a word count goal. That is the said word count goal.)

And now, that said. I am going to bed while it is still Monday. Have a great week, everyone!

In Which We Are Random

I do not have a Friday Snippet for you today. I do not have a picture post, or a linkity post, or a WiP post, or anything remotely “normal” for my blog schedule. (Not that this month has started out very “normal” blog-wise, what with me being AWOL for many usual post days.)

So, instead, we will have a random bullet post.

Stay tuned on Monday for a guest blog from M. K. Hobson, the author of The Native Star. I may also pull together enough goodies for a blog contest; we’ll have to see.

  • I was chatting with someone not too long ago about my blog, and somehow or other it came up that I hadn’t mentioned him on it. (This is not too surprising, as he is kinda the reason I haven’t been blogging, but that’s beside the point.) So, he’s now been mentioned. I’m not 100% sure what code name I want to use for him, so I’m not going to use one yet. (So there.) But anyway, life is good, just not exactly bloggable, unless I want to go into my personal life online (which I don’t).
  • Knitting has been happening. Sorta. I may have pictures for you next week. Not that I’ve finished anything yet. In fact, I started something new instead. (My stole was annoying me. I had to show it who’s boss, now didn’t I?)
  • Reading has been happening too, but at work instead of at home. It’s gotten to the point at work where I end up with gaps of time in which I have nothing to do, but they are between periods of time when I have very important things to do, so I can’t leave early or anything. So… reading. Often e-books.
  • If I needed proof (which I don’t) that last bullet would prove to me that yes, I like e-readers.
  • I want an iPad.
  • But I no longer have the same desire to get one now. (See top bullet.)
  • Scrabble is a fun game. Once in a while.
  • I can occasionally beat my dad at Trivial Pursuit. This makes me incredibly happy.

As this blog post has deteriorated into a series of comments about board games, I think it’s time to close it up. Have a great weekend, everyone!