Showing posts with label iTunes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iTunes. Show all posts

Saturday, July 21

Helping Writers De-Stress: Meditation Apps


I got a late start today and have been relaxing in my comfy office char for the past 15 minutes reading my Google Alerts. I have a Google Alert for almost everything--almost everything I'm interested in, almost everything ... well, that would be a lot of alerts!--and I came across a list of meditation apps.

For some time I've been thinking of getting a meditation tape to help me de-stress, or help me get into a certain mindset before writing, and one of these could be just the thing. I've never used an app for mediation before, the closest I've come is the fabulous YouTube video, How To Meditate In A Moment.

By the way, thanks to incomparable singer/songwriter/composer The Land Of Deborah for posting the link to this video, otherwise I'd never have known about it.

All these apps sound cool, but only two of them are either free or have a free version. Since I'm a fan of being able to try something out and getting a feel for it before I buy, I picked one of those two to try out.

Headspace On-the-Go
Headspace On-the-Go is free, and you get 10 short meditation sessions along with over 200 hours of content. I watched the introduction video and decided to try the first session.

Here's the writeup:
With a friendly, positive feeling, Headspace offers 10-minute meditations over a 10-day course. It explains meditation with cute animation of a mind that looks like a puff of cotton candy with legs. You can track your progress as the mind leaps over the hurdle of each day's program. There's no music with the instructions that lead you to focus on your breath, body and environment.

My experience: Wow!

I feel more relaxed, the room even seems brighter. I'm going to try this for the full 10 days. I'll leave an update here about what my experience was like after I've finished.

I'll let Amber Dance over at the Times tell you about the rest of the meditation apps: Meditation apps let the peace flow through the phone, if they are anything like Headspace then they're definitely worth a look.

Further reading:
- Forget NaNoWriMo: How To Write A Novel In A Weekend
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!

Monday, October 31

First apps for your new iPad, 2011 edition

Dwight Silverman from TechBlog writes:
A few months after the first iPad was released last year, I posted a list of apps that new owners should consider installing first. It has become one of the most popular posts on TechBlog, but it was written almost 14 months ago. That’s eons in Internet time, and it’s already out of date.

With that in mind, here’s an updated version of the list. It includes many of the original items, but others have fallen off and new apps have been added. Some of the additions came from solicitations I posted to Twitter, Facebook and Google+. (And thanks to everyone who made suggestions!)
Dwight's list is both awesome and extensive, and I'll give you the link to it at the end of this article, but I thought I'd highlight a few apps I've found particularly useful.
Beat the Traffic HD – Traffic and weather for the iPad. If you’ve got an iPad 3G, it will also tell you how fast you’re going.
This app makes me wish I had an iPad 3G! – Dictionary & Thesaurus – The popular iPhone dictionary app is reformatted for the iPad. It’s a large download (grab it via Wi-Fi if you have a 3G iPad), but once it’s installed, it won’t have to connect to the Net to download definitions.
I love Word Of The Day feature on this one. It's intuitive and the advertising isn't too intrusive.
Dragon Dictation – Excellent voice recognition from the folks who bring you Dragon Naturally Speaking. Say what you want to write, then paste it into any application, including e-mail. No, it’s not as amazing at the iPhone 4S’s Siri, but it will make text input on your iPad a lot easier.
I've been playing around with Dragon Dictation for the past week or so, but I find it a bit lacking. In order for it's accuracy to approach something I'm comfortable with I have to talk very slowly and take care to enunciate clearly. (Yes, this is probably something I should do all the time!) That said, for a free app it is amazing and well worth the time it takes to download. It's a fun app, just not as useful for a writer as I'd like.

On the other hand, I've heard nothing but great things about Dragon Naturally Speaking and plan to buy the software. I'll keep you updated on how it goes. I'm interested in whether it will help me write more by allowing me to record sound files on, say, my walk to work and then using the voice recognition software to transcribe the file. (My 6th grade teacher talked about how in the future this would be possible but we rolled our eyes and him and thought he was nuts! Sorry Mr. Schmidt.)
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List – A beautifully designed, smartly organized recipe and grocery shopping application that includes user reviews of the recipes.
The recipes look scrumptious and I was excited by the prospect of having a grocery list on my iPad, but it seems that the list is linked to the recopies and you can't add items on a whim. If I'm wrong about that, please let me know. For me, this isn't a keeper.
Facebook – At long last, Facebook has updated its iOS app to be iPad-friendly. If you’re on Facebook, you’ll want it.
I'm on Facebook, but I'm a reluctant Facebooker. I love all my friends on Facebook, but some aspects of the site puzzle me.
Feeddler RSS Reader for iPad and iPhone – The best RSS reader for the iPad. It’s particularly good if you have a lot of feeds to manage.
I'm always on the lookout for RSS readers, and after fiddling around with this app for about half an hour, I'm in love! This is the RSS reader I've been looking for.
Find My Friends – Get your friends to install this free Apple app on their iOS devices, and you can see where they are. They, of course, can see where you are, too. It’s also great for families, allowing you to keep track of where your kids’ locations.
I haven't downloaded this app and I don't plan to. The whole idea seems creepy to me, but I see the utility for concerned Moms and Dads so I'm including it.
Flipboard – Feed this app your Twitter and Facebook streams and it extracts links from your friends’ updates, displaying the results in a magazine-like format. This is one of the most innovative iPad apps you can install, and probably the best way to view the information flowing into your social networks.
What he said. I use Flipboard daily and love it. This is a must-have app.
iMovie – Did you think the iPad’s touch-based interface was too limiting for video editing? Think again. It’s $4.99.
This is an awesome app. I've been using to edit videos I've taken with my iPad and it's wonderful. Sometimes the touch interface gets the better of me, but that more of an iPad thing than a limitation of iMovie. I'm almost read to upload my first movie to YouTube and make it public, so I'll let you all judge for yourselves!
Kindle – Amazon’s book-reading app is so much better than Apple’s own iBooks e-reader. If you’ve got a Kindle or a smartphone with the Kindle app, you can pick up where you left off on any of those devices.
I like iBooks, but there's no question: Kindle is great. I do most of my reading on it. No complaints.
Pages – The iPad doesn’t really come with a decent word processor, so if you’re planning on writing anything beyond a quick note or an email, you’ll want this well-designed app from Apple. It’s full-featured and is $9.99.
Pages is excellent, especially since it's now possible to put files in folders.
Speedtest X HD – If you’re compulsive about checking your connection speed, you’ll want this app. The one downside: you can only choose from four testing locations.
After downloading Speedtest and running it I'm underwhelmed. Apart from a rating out of 5 stars it doesn't give much of an analysis of your score.

I encourage you to read the entire article: First apps for your new iPad, 2011 edition

My App Recommendations (all these apps are free):
- Dragonvale. Hugely entertaining and addicting. Beware.

- SmartRecord. You can use this app to record lectures, or post sound files to your twitter account. It also allows you to imbed images. I haven't tried out posting to Twitter yet, but it's a cool idea. Easy to use and free.

- TED: Ideas worth spreading. You all know about TED, right? Folks with something worth saying are invited to say it.

- Yelp. Find restaurants near you and read reviews from people like you.

I love technology posts! I hope you found something new and neat. Cheers.

Saturday, July 23

Indie Film Makes $200K in iTunes Sales

An Indie film, made with absolutely no money and a DSLR camera, has grossed over $200,000 and climbed into iTunes Top 100 Movies.

Read the story here.

Just the other day I was wondering why I hadn't heard about a no- or low-budget movie that made good money from being sold on iTunes. Speak of the devil.

Of course, that it had Stana Katic in it didn't hurt.

As the technology to make films becomes ever cheaper, and avenues of distribution for indie projects expands, it seems likely that movie fans will encounter an increasing number of movies made well outside the Hollywood system. We’ve seen under-the-radar hits in recent years – from Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi to The Blair Witch Project on to recent sensation Paranormal Activity – but those films still eventually had studio involvement before they hit it big. Such is not the case with For Lovers Only.

The film, which was helmed by twin filmmakers Michael and Mark Polish, had a production budget of $0 and an advertising budget to match. The title, which is a black- and-white tale of old lovers reconnecting in Paris, was shot with two actors (one was Castle’s Stana Katic, the other Mark Polish) and on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II still camera. Thanks to Twitter and word of mouth, the film currently sits in the number 2 slot in the iTunes Romance category, the four slot on the indie films chart, and is in the top 100 in rentals on the mega site. Oh, and it’s made $200,000 so far.

While the Polish brothers talk of the film as a way to “get back to the real energy of filmmaking,” this isn’t your father’s version of the movie business. The filmmakers’ experiment revolved around the idea of shooting a film for nothing and then letting an audience find it through the magic of new media. So far, it’s been a complete success. Star Stana Katic’s tweets about the project ignited a firestorm amongst her fanbase – who then spread word far and wide across the Internet.

Read more at, 'For Lovers Only' Demonstrates No-Budget Films Can Become Hits in the Internet Age

No Budget Indie Film Has Grossed $200K in iTunes Sales
'For Lovers Only' Demonstrates No-Budget Films Can Become Hits in the Internet Age
How the Polish Brothers Are Raking It In With a Stealth, No Budget Movie