An App By Any Other Name…Would Still Work Just As Well

Several months ago, I wrote a blog entry about an app called Read It Later.  (This is a bookmarking application capable of interfacing across multiple devices; I use it to share my bookmarks between the different operating systems on my computer, and between my computer, phone, and tablet.)  The web developer for Read It Later (also called Read It Later) recently released the app Pocket to replace it.  The application still runs on your computer exactly as it did prior to the name,

Click to save.

whether you’re surfing for links to save,

 

 

The website is now saved as a bookmark.

adding bookmarks,

New app, same look.

accessing your Reading List,

An unread bookmark.

editing your bookmarks,

 

 

 

 

A "Read" bookmark.

or marking your bookmarks as Read.

 

 

 

The mobile version of the app, however, has seen a few changes.

For starters, the app is now called “Pocket -formerly Read It Later”.  Before the change, users would only be able to access their first ten bookmarks at a time – to view more, they would have to purchase the full application.  Not so anymore.  Now the user has access to all of their bookmarks at any time, automatically downloaded to their device to be viewed online and offline.  Best of all, the app is still free!

If you are looking for a way to sync your bookmarks across multiple devices, Pocket is a good application to consider.  (I especially like to use it on my tablet: my Fire is not a 3G enabled device, so having the ability to access the bookmarks saved offline on my device via Pocket is convenient if I am not in an area with free WiFi.)  This app is available now for download both on the android and iPhone marketplaces.  Happy bookmarking!

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There’s An App For That

My nephews are completely fascinated with my Kindle Fire tablet.  If I have it powered on within a five meter radius of their position, they are instantly at my side – demanding to “play” with their Tía’s “toy”.  As I hardly thought the apps I frequent most – Evernote or Color Note – would hold their attention, and I definitely did not want them to access my internet browser, I needed to find an application that would be both kid friendly and easy to use.  I found that app in Kids Doodle.

The default screen.

When you open the Kids Doodle application for the first time, the screen you are presented with (after the prerequisite introduction/information screen) is blank, except for the six button options across the bottom of the screen.

Click to change background colors and/or erase screen.

The option on the far left is the background changing button.  Every time you touch this option, the screen erases itself and changes background color – almost like ripping off a used piece of blue construction paper to find a fresh green sheet underneath it.  Repeated touches to this option allows the user to cycle through the background colors available: black, navy blue, pale green, green, lime green, white, purple, lavender, peach, bright green, mustard yellow, burnt orange, slate gray, ocean blue…the list goes on.

Click to change your "pen".

The second to last option on the bottom-left hand side of the screen is the pen changing option.  With every touch of this button, the user is presented with a different kind of “pen” to use – giving the child (or adult) different options to pursue while drawing free-hand (with fingers) or with a stylus.  As for the options – the lines can become thin, fat, neon, or faded, and can either show up on the screen as a solid color or continuously change colors the longer the “pen” is used.

The third option from the end on the lower-left hand side of the screen is the Undo button.

Click to undo last action.

Click to change your "pen" into an eraser.

The option to the immediate right of the Undo button is the erase option.  Simply touch this option to transform your “pen” into an eraser.  When finished erasing, touch the pen changing option once to reactivate your “pen” and continue drawing.

Click to watch your drawing come to life, step-by-step!

The option second to the end on the screen’s lower-right hand side is the media button.  From the first “stroke of the pen” to the last on every new “sheet”, the Kids Doodle application records the user’s progress.  Pressing the media button shows the user a video of the picture they have just drawn, step-by-step from start to finish.  The video can be paused, stopped, fast-forwarded, rewound, and played again.

Click to save your masterpiece.

Here you have the option to save your work or share it.

The last option on the bottom-right hand side of the screen is the save button.  Pressing this option will save your current masterpiece into the Kids Doodle folder on your device.  Pressing the menu button on your tablet/phone will also give you the option to save your drawing, as well as the ability to easily share it with friends via email.

If you are looking for an app for your Android device that is easy to use and capable of entertaining curious young minds longer than a few seconds, I would highly recommend this free application for either your phone or tablet.  To download, either click on this link to send the app to your phone via the Amazon app marketplace, or type “Kids Doodle” (created by Bejoy Mobile) into the search bar of the Amazon marketplace on your phone.

My Windows Make Over (Or, Pimp My Virtual Machine) – Part III

This is the conclusion of my three-part post, “My Windows Make Over (Or, Pimp My Virtual Machine) – Part I & Part II“.  This evening, I will be going over the installation processes I underwent when creating virtual machines for both my Windows and Linux operating systems.  I used different processes for each OS, and want to cover each one for the sake of being thorough.

I partitioned my hard drive and installed Windows on my machine long before I had heard of virtual machines.  The inconvenience involved in the process of accessing either of the two different operating systems spawned my desire to seek out – and eventually find – a better solution to the “Windows problem”.  Instead of deleting Windows from my system and putting it into a virtual machine, I decided to create a VM to open my Boot Camp (Windows) partition inside of my Mac OS.  In other words, when I start-up my Boot Camp VM, my computer pulls my Windows OS from my Boot Camp partition and runs it in my Mac OS partition, only in a separate window.  How do you do this?  After installing Fusion onto your machine, open the application.  If you look towards the bottom of the Fusion window, you will see the following options to select: Create New, Migrate Existing PC, Run Boot Camp, and Learn More.  Click Run Boot Camp.

Click here to run Boot Camp in a virtual machine.

Type in your administrative password into the permissions box that pops up.  Fusion will then automatically create a virtual machine for your partitioned operating system, as well as download the VMware Tools that you will need to use every feature of Windows on your Mac OS.  While this installation is taking place, follow any onscreen instructions given by Fusion, and restart the virtual machine when prompted.  After the VMware Tools have been installed, Fusion will prompt you to restart your virtual machine again.  When you log onto your Windows VM for the first time, you will need to reactive Windows (the computer will remind you).  Congratulations!  You are now running your Windows OS in a virtual machine!

If you do not have Windows already installed on your machine, or if you want to add a different OS to your computer in addition to your Boot Camp VM, you will need to create a brand new virtual machine.  On the bottom of your Fusion window, click the Create New option.

Click here to create a new virtual machine.

You will then be prompted to insert the CD for your operating system of choice into the CD drive, if you have not already done so.  Once your computer recognizes your disk, the New Virtual Machine Assistant program will start.  On the Introduction panel that is shown, ensure that the “Install this operating system” option is selected, and then click Continue.  You will then be prompted for your display name and password, which you will need to enter in (if you are installing Windows, you will need to type in your Windows Product Key, as well as choose how your new virtual machine will handle file sharing).  Click Finish.  Fusion will then create your virtual machine, install VMware Tools, and prompt you to restart your new virtual machine.  Log-in to your new VM, and start using your newly installed OS!

Fusion 4 make the installation and application process involved in creating virtual machines simple.  Creating a VM is as easy as following onscreen prompts and remembering to be patient when the process lasts as long as thirty to forty-five minutes.  Start your free thirty-day trial of Fusion 4 today.  If you are not happy with the product (or virtual machines in general) simply throw it in the trash – thankfully, you will not have wasted any of your money along the way.  Good luck in your endeavors!

(March’s haiku will be up tomorrow!)

My Windows Make Over (Or, Pimp My Virtual Machine) – Part II

In continuation from yesterday’s post, “My Windows Make Over (Or, Pimp My Virtual Machine) – Part I”:

Apple computers come with a program called Boot Camp, which – after partitioning the hard drive – allows the user to install the Windows OS on their machine.  Of course, in order to use this option, the user must log off of the Mac OS X, reboot their computer, and then log on to Windows every time they wish to switch operating systems.  As you can imagine, this is not the most convenient of options, nor is it the quickest.  With a virtual machine, the user can simply log on to their other OS right from the operating system they are using – no rebooting necessary.  Of course, virtual machines were not made for Windows alone, but can also be used to house other systems as well (such as Linux or other forms of Unix).

While researching the various virtual machines available, I came across a rather informative article in the Macworld magazine, titled “How To: Run Windows On Your Mac” (by Rob Griffiths).  The bulk of this article is dedicated to describing the differences between two of the more popular choices in virtual machines – VMFusion and Parallels – and played a large part in helping me choose which virtual machine best fit my needs.  (Let it be known, there are other options available in addition to these two VMs (virtual machines).  These options include the VirtualBox from Oracle (free to download), QEMU (for Linux machines only, free to download), and the Windows Virtual PC (for Windows machines only, very limited in capabilities, free to use).)

For the purpose of this post, I am only going to concentrate my conversation on the merits of the Fusion and Parallels VMs.  They are the two virtual machines that I conducted the most research on; the positive customer reviews and impressive capabilities of these machines were both what captured my attention and acted as deciding factors when narrowing down my choices in preferred virtual machines.  The biggest difference between the two?  Fusion is for Macs only, while Parallels can work on multiple platforms.  The initial cost of both the Parallels and Fusion virtual machines is the same: $80.  There is a catch, however.  A Fusion license is good for every Mac computer a user controls or owns, while the Parallels license is only good for one machine.  In other words, deciding to run Parallels on multiple computers (say, for a business or school) will get really costly really quickly.

Fusion is also easy to install – there is no installer and the program can be stored anywhere the user desires.  Only on the initial start-up is the user’s administrative password required, and never again after that.  When the user chooses to quit Fusion, it shuts down completely – no background programs remain running.  Uninstalling is also a simple matter, requiring only that the application is dragged and dropped into the trash (no uninstall processes to go through here).  Parallels, on the other hand, uses an installer (and, thus, an uninstaller).  Also, despite the fact that the user may have fully exited Parallels, there are always two processes that continue to run in the background, regardless.

As far as virtual machine settings, performance, and updates go, the two systems are very much alike.  The user is provided with easy to access preferences and settings for both Fusion and Parallels, though the delivery of said options may differ.  They both perform rather well, although Fusion does run slightly faster than Parallels when using the virtual Windows OS.  Updates are frequent and relevant, with Parallels having a quicker updating period (Fusion takes longer between update periods, which results in larger updates).  While both machines can support virtual appliances (definition: when the computer uses just enough of the virtual operating system to run a software application, instead of running the entire OS every time), Fusion provides far more options to the user than Parallels.

Another large difference between the two virtual machines is the way Windows is “windowed”.  In Parallels, both the physical and virtual operating systems are shown on the same window (for a Mac user, this means that their Mac OS looks like it is running Windows applications alongside Mac applications, despite the fact that actually running the Windows OS as well).  Fusion shows Windows as a separate window:

In Fusion, Windows runs in a separate window - one that I can look at or hide when I please. One operating system at a time for me!

When using my virtual Windows OS in Fusion, I feel as though I am only running Windows, and have the ability to switch back and forth between operating systems by simply swiping with my mouse.  (I prefer to keep my operating systems separate, instead of combining them all on one screen – too much clutter.)

If you are a Windows gamer, then Parallels is the answer for you.  Parallels 7 (the newest version) far outperforms Fusion 4 (also, the newest).  Parallels dedicates one gigabyte of VRAM to game play, while Fusion only allows for 256 megabytes, resulting in a massively slow refresh rate.  The Parallels 3D engine also tends to work better for Windows games than the option provided by Fusion.  If gaming is the major reason you may be considering using a virtual machine, Parallels is your answer – hands down.

Which is the best choice?  While Fusion appears to be the better of the two, it really all boils down to personal preference.  You must ask yourself ‘how am I planning on using my virtual machine?’, and allow that answer to guide your choice in which VM is right for you.  Fusion was my answer, though it may not necessarily be yours (especially if you are a Windows user).  If in doubt, download the trial version of which ever VM you are considering (Parallels gives you fourteen days to play, and Fusion gives you thirty).  The website for the Fusion 4 virtual machine can be found here (look under the tab “Products” for a download link), and the Parallels virtual machine website is located here.

Part III – and the conclusion – for this post will be going up tomorrow.  I will be going through the installation process for Fusion, as used with both my Windows and Linux operating systems.  Until then!

My Windows Make Over (Or, Pimp My Virtual Machine) – Part I

(No picture tonight…got to love rainy nights with thick cloud cover.  Mother Nature has a strange sense of timing.  Maybe tomorrow I will be more fortunate?)

Despite the fact that I was a Windows user for so many years, it took me little to no time to adapt and even prefer using the Mac OS X on my MacBook Pro.  When I decided to partition my hard drive and add the Windows OS to my machine, I could not believe the difference one year could make.  Take the touch pad, for example.  To this Mac user, my touch pad is everything.  The fact that most of the functions I had become so accustomed to were now inoperable, not to mention the inconvenience of having to perform a system reboot every time I needed to access Windows, were enough to ensure that I rarely logged on to my Windows partition at all.  Obviously, I needed a better solution.

This solution came to me after having a conversation with my father, another Mac user.  He suggested that I run my Windows OS in a virtual machine instead of straight from the partition.  What is a virtual machine?  “Imagine one computer containing multiple operating systems loaded on a single [computer], each of which functions as a separate OS on a separate physical machine. Virtualization software does just that by creating and managing one or more virtual machines on a single, physical host [computer].  Every virtual machine is a fully functioning virtual computer, where you can install a guest operating system of your choice, with network configuration, and a full suite of [computer] software.” (Source)  In other words, I can run my Windows OS at the same time as my Mac OS, no computer reboot necessary!  The best part of this?  I can now use more of my touchpad functions with Windows, making my Windows experience to be a much more pleasant one!  Decision made, I started to conduct research on the various virtual machines available on the ‘net and find the right fit for me.

For the sake of space, I am breaking this post into three parts.  In tomorrow’s post, I will talk in further detail about virtual machines, giving a few examples and going into the differences between them.  Thursday’s post will be my ‘how to’ post, in which I will explain how I installed VMFusion (my virtual machine of choice) and made it work with my computer.  Until then!

Does Your Blog Have Enough Flair?

I wanted to make a point of showing off the shiny new badge my blog is sporting (look to the right side of the screen on your computer or mobile device (remember to click the view full screen option on the bottom of the page on your phone’s browser if you are viewing in mobile mode)).  The 2012 Posting Badges are now available!  I made a promise to myself to post every day this year: partly to see if I could do it, and partly because I had missed out on that challenge last year and wanted to make up for it.  Are you committed to posting every day or once a week this year?  If so, make sure to let your readers know by placing a badge on your blog page as well.  If you are unsure of how to do this, just follow these few steps:

1. Click on this link and pick out which badge you like the most (be it for daily or weekly posting).  Right-click that image and save it to your computer.  Then access your Dashboard (upper-left hand corner of your screen under your blog’s name), place your cursor above the Media option also located on the left side of your screen, and click Add New.  Click the Select Files button, find the badge image you saved, and click Open.  After the image has uploaded itself, you can then add a title, caption, or description, should you choose to do so.  BEFORE you click Save All Changes, highlight and copy the File URL located underneath the image description.  Then click Save All Changes.

2. Place your cursor over the Appearance option on the left side of the screen and click Widgets.  Within your Available Widgets menu you will see the Image widget.  Drag this widget over to the Sidebar menu on the right hand side of the screen and drop it into an open space.  On the Image widget you will see an upside-down arrow on the far right end – click on it.  Paste the File URL you copied into the spot called Image URL.  There are a few customization options available to you (title, caption, size, etc.) that you can fill in; if you just want the end result to look exactly like the image you saved, leave these spaces black.  Make sure you paste the URL for the Daily Post Blog Site (http://dailypost.wordpress.com) into the Link URL box.  This allows visitors to your blog the opportunity to read up on the 2012 posting challenge from the source and “spread the word” about it.  Click Save to finish.

3. Open your blog’s main page and check out your new badge!

4. Do not forget to tag your posts!  Add the tag postaday to each of your posts to indicate that they were written for this challenge, and add other tags as well to make it easier for viewers to search for and find your blog.

5. Good luck, and happy blogging!

An Ode To the App, Run Pee

I am a huge fan of author Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum Number series.  For those who have perhaps never heard of this fantastic author or her books, this particular series is about a young woman who – after losing her job, car, and very nearly her apartment – goes to work for her cousin as a bond enforcement agent to make ends meet.  As an inexperienced bounty hunter, her bumbling efforts may read like a comedy of errors, but her determination sees to it  that in the end she always “gets her man/woman”.  The first book in the series, titled One For the Money, is being released on film in theaters tomorrow, and I am most excited to go see it!  (I can only hope that the producers for this movie have not taken too many liberties with the storyline as others have for other films…yes, M. Night Shyamalan, I’m looking at you.)

Whenever I go to the theater, there are three things I make sure to have with me: a travel mug of sweet tea (I am not paying a small fortune for soda at the concession stand, especially as I am not overly fond of soda), my Run Pee app on my phone, and a bag to keep it all in.  What is Run Pee, you may be wondering?  Made by polyGeek, this application’s purpose is to let moviegoers know the best times during the film to take a bathroom break (usually during scenes that are not as important to the plot and can therefore be missed), and how much time they have to conduct said break so as to not miss the best parts of the film.  As for myself, I use the app to determine whether or not I need to stay after the credits.  It is really nice to know ahead of time whether or not I need to stick around to catch those last few seconds of the movie.  (I hate waiting, only to find that there was nothing worth waiting for.)  To download this application, either click on this link to the android marketplace, or search “run pee” within your phone’s app store.  This app is available for both Android and Apple phones.

I am hoping to go see One For the Money this Saturday.  Until then, I need to dust off my bag, find my travel mug, and make sure my Run Pee app is up to date.  Then it’s on with the show!

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