Category Archives: Technology

Tired of Netflix?

I love Netflix and am not going to be switching any time soon, but the folks over at BIGSTAR know there’s a lot of people out there who are cancelling their service because of the recent rate changes. So they’re offering a really awesome deal for those of you pulling the plug on Netflix.

By sending your Netflix cancellation email to GoodbyeNetflix@bigstar.tv, you can get a full year membership to their extensive streaming movie library for only $7.99.

BIGSTAR is also available on a list of internet-connected devices, including iPad, iPhone, Yahoo! Widgets, (Samsung, Vizio, Sony TV), Google Android, Roku Players, Palm WebOS, Vizio TVs, Samsung TVs, PopBox players and more. www.bigstar.tv

Check’m out!

Video + Review: Millie and the Lost Key


I love ebooks for the iPad. I think they’re getting cleverer and cleverer. So I was delighted when I was able to review “Millie and the Lost Key” (the second book about the dog adventurer Millie). While I don’t have kids of my own I have a ton of kids who use my iPad on a regular basis. It’s been the best tool in combatting “long, boring adult things.” Just a couple weeks ago it was a long lunch. There’s also been long graduations, long meetings, and long bus rides. Kids love the iPad because of the tactile experience and, because of this, “Millie and the Lost Key” is an experience kids won’t soon forget.

The Interface
Millie and the Lost Key is fairly intuitive to use, though I’m glad they had the small startup instructions on how to turn pages. A lot of the pages look like their “real life” counterparts (such as pop up books) so knowing what to do on the screen is easy. The kids I’ve seen use it didn’t struggle at all. The only part I struggled with was knowing when to “scratch off” versus click on something, but soon got the hang of it.

Experience
The strength of this app is that there’s always a surprise on the next page and you can’t really tell what might come next. Where a lot of ebooks fail, Millie and the Lost Key succeeds in giving you enough variety in things to do that you’re not bored and give up halfway through. There’s things to push, pull, scratch, click and more. Plus a variety of small mini-games that help the story along.

The Story
If you’ve bought enough ebook apps you know that often an ebook is either 1) a great story or 2) a great experience, but very seldom does an ebook app give you both. I have several amazing kids books on my iPad that just make boring apps. There’s nothing visually striking about them and there’s little to click on, move or push around the screen. Thankfully Millie and the Lost Key is not only an exciting app to play with it’s also an adorably cute story.

The Price
For the amount of fun this app is, I think it’s one of the most reasonably priced kids ebooks out there. The added value is that it’s got a nice replay incentive if you’ve missed all of the hidden stickers or just want to retry to beat your score on some of the mini-games.

Bottom Line
I say buy it, it’s a fun app and is great for the kids in your life who are going to be borrowing your iPad. Plus, you can get the first book “Meet Millie” for free! Click here to find “Millie and the Lost Key” on iTunes: http://bit.ly/qm4ofG

The Social Aspects of the iPad

Much ado has been made over the isolationism of technology. I’ve read probably four articles in the last month about how technology destroys social interaction and small talk. The number one piece of tech getting the abuse is Apple’s iPad.

I’ve had my own 3G iPad for a little over two months now and I get why it gets the bad rep it gets. If you’re bored or tired of talking you can simply slip out your iPad and play a game or check email. Our great-grandfather and mothers would probably take it as the height of rudeness (after they got over how shiny it was).

And yet, you don’t hear a lot of folks talking about the ways it brings people together. My iPad travels with me everywhere, I take it out everywhere and I use it a lot. There’s three or four pages of apps that you have to flip through (in landscape mode). So I have quite a bit to show off. Inevitably, when I’m out, a total stranger will stop, take a sharp intake of breath and go, “is that an iPad?”

This simple question has been the basis for many a small talk conversation with a waitress, coffee shop customer, or small child. Once I even had a woman nearly run up to the table I was sitting at in Starbucks and bounce with glee, “isn’t this thing wonderful? My husband and I love ours!” Another time, it was a waitress at a restaurant who sat down at my table to talk about how she could use the iPad for a small home business she wanted to start. This past fourth of July my parents and I were playing Scrabble on the iPad (pass and play) while we were waiting for the fireworks to go off. That’s when I noticed that the nearby group of kids had gathered around us.

“Whose winning?” One kid asked.

“My mom is.” I replied.

“Can you read books on that?” Another kid asked (see, kids still like books folks).

“Yep. I have six books on it right now.”

“Ohhhhhh.” The kids said collectively.

“Look, she has an iPad.” One of the boys told another boy who just wandered up to us.

“An iPod?” The boy asked, confused.

“No, an iPad.” The first boy responded. “It’s so cool.”

Later, as the evening went on, the kids would come up to me and ask who was winning the Scrabble game and peek over at the shining screen. We had several small chit-chatty conversations after that.

Social interactions? I’ve got them.

Or, consider my recent flight where I was playing Boggle. The stewardess (who seemed tired and cranky most of the flight) leaned over and said, “did you get stairs?” When I replied I hadn’t yet, she smiled and was so pleasant the rest of the time.

My favorite story about how social an iPad is comes from friends of our who have 5 kids, all under the age of 14. The four boys gathered around my iPad on their coffeetable and played Plants vs. Zombies for about four hours. Now, if you have’t played Plants vs. Zombies you may miss the beauty of this. Technically it’s a one player game. But the four boys worked together to collect the needed sun, plant the correct plants and watch for invading zombies. There were no squabbles or shoving or pushing (my iPad never was in danger) and it was so much fun to watch them having such a great time.

So yes, I could be a hermit with my technology. I see why folks worry about us isolating ourselves and burying ourselves into our Blackberry (I’ve seen that one way too many times), but I submit it’s not the tech — it’s the people using them.

Foxconn(/Apple) death

I just stumbled across this news item on Gizmodo: An employee of Foxconn, the Chinese company that builds iPhones for Apple, has, according to reports, “apparently” committed suicide after a shipment of iPhone prototypes came up one short in shipping. This after being abused by security officials following the event. Not only is it tragic, but it’s also strange: one of the Gizmodo items says that Chinese police are still calling this an ‘apparent suicide’ despite having the incident – he fell from the 14th floor of his building – on video.

Gizmodo items:
Death by iPhone

Foxconn iPhone Suicide: Chinese Police Now Investigating Murder

Perspective on the iPhone Suicide: Guy Died Over a F*&#ing PHONE