Summertime is travel time, and there’s no better travel companion than your smartphone. (Well, unless you can get Jessica Alba.) In fact, I’d argue you get the best return on your investment when you stock your phone with various trip-friendly apps, which can help you in ways you never thought possible.
Indeed, with these five apps, all of which are free, you’ll be able to manage all your travel plans at a glance; find cool and interesting things to do wherever you go; leverage public transportation in strange cities; and even translate foreign languages. (In your face, Fodor’s!) Let’s take a closer look at this fab five
Stop throwing your money away on crappy phone games. That’s the dumbest thing you can do with your money. These supposedly free games make a killing off of bored people who want an excuse to touch their phone. There was a time not too long ago where it was OK to stop touching your phone for five minutes. My Freemium gaming experience was specific to one game, but all of these games are the same. They get money out of players in two ways. The first is that they lock the game and prevent you from playing it unless you pay a fee. The second is they allow you to pay to unlock things like new characters, weapons, and power-ups. It’s really easy to fork over a dollar or two when you’re waiting at the dentist’s office or sitting at your desk at work. Those dollars don’t seem like much at the time, but they add up quickly.
My experience with Freemium gaming was The Simpsons: Tapped Out. This is a free game where you get to build the fictional town of Springfield from scratch. That’s what I was told anyway. The game play in The Simpsons: Tapped Out consists of placing buildings and then waiting a pre-set time period to click on them to get money to buy more buildings. This leads to every town having huge blocks of buildings placed as close together as possible because you don ‘t want to waste an inch of real estate space. That’s not really my idea of proper city planning.
Aereo is dead. Long live Aereo!
As you may have heard, the nascent TV-streaming service was just handed the equivalent of the death sentence by no less than the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the company violated copyright laws.
That’s a pretty big blow to cord-cutters, folks trying to eschew hefty cable bills in favor of Internet-powered television. Aereo helped solve a big piece of that puzzle, delivering local channels to your TV or mobile device and letting you record them, DVR-style, for later viewing.
So what now? You probably know that a pair of rabbit ears will let you tune in local channels, but what about recording them? What about slinging them to phones, tablets, Roku boxes, and the like?
Have no fear: There are other options. A new breed of DVRs caters expressly to the antenna crowd, giving you a home for those sweet, sweet over-the-air TV signals. Here’s an overview of three relatively new products.
It’s Friday night, you just got off work, time to unwind, right? Unfortunately, the act of unwinding (i.e. having an adult beverage) brings about its own stress. How much money do you gotta drop? What’s the best bargain? Where should you go? It’s all too much, ain’t it? NOT ANYMORE, BABY. I, Josh Androsky, will do the dirty work to discover which bargain basement booze has the most bang for your buck.
Director: Cassandra Lee Hamilton
Music: Cowabunga Babes
Last month I explained how to turn a tablet into the perfect PC for seniors, but guess what? You’re not a senior. (Well, unless you’re in high school or college, in which case I hate you.) Even so, I’ll wager you’ve wondered whether or not a tablet should be your next PC.
Indeed, here’s a common scenario: Your old laptop is on its last legs. It takes forever to boot, runs at a glacial pace, coughs up regular error messages (or, worse, Blue Screens of Death), and probably weighs a lot more than you’d like it to. Also, the “W” key has fallen off, a tough blow for anyone who still types “www” before a Web address. (Handy tip: not necessary!)
MyVegas is an app available to download for your smartphone or play on Facebook. It boasts real Las Vegas prizes for players to cash-in on. When I first heard about this, I thought it was too good to be true, maybe even a scam. So, I tried it for myself. Here’s what I learned from a few hours play.
How to Play:
I started playing on Facebook and like every slot game I’ve ever played in Vegas, I had no idea what I was doing. I pretty much just kept clicking the ‘bet’ button, and kept receiving chips. After I got the hang of it a little bit more, I was able to do automatic spins and bet higher amounts of chips. Within the first half-hour I was at level 5.
Every time you go up a level you get more coins and betting chips. I eventually ran out of chips, and a screen popped up telling me I could buy more with my actual money. This is the part where the app can get scammy. Then again, pretty much every “free” game on Facebook and on smartphones tries to get you to buy more coins, lives, or something of the sort. That $1.99 seems harmless until you fast forward three months and realize you’ve spent nearly $50 on a pointless game. I’m not going to fall for this again. Curse you, Candy Crush!
Last December I told you about Oyster, an e-book subscription service that many have likened to “Netflix for books.” (Seems like there’s a Netflix for everything these days, though I’m still waiting on “Netflix for cookies.”) You pay a flat monthly rate and get unlimited access to every book in the Oyster library.
Back then, the service felt a little half-baked. (Clearly I’m still thinking about cookies.) Its catalog consisted of only about 100,000 titles, and its mobile apps were limited to iOS devices.
What a difference six months can make.
Now that it’s officially summer, it’s time to get down and party! Crazy as it sounds, I’m invited to at least 1 to 3 parties per week in the summertime. Whether it’s someone’s birthday party, a Fourth of July shindig, a graduation celebration, a girls get-together, World Cup 2014 viewing party, there’s always a reason to party and if you don’t have any, just create one!
While throwing a party can be lots of fun, it can also be super stressful. The planning process is no walk in the park and it’s the little things that truly make or break your party. If you’re new to hosting parties or you need a few pointers to get you through your next one, here are the top ten party tips from Evite and Sandra Lee.
Note: Don’t forget to enter the Great Party Giveaway Sweepstakes to get a chance at winning $2500 worth of party supplies, food and more.
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but what about for the person on-the-go? We went to three top fast food chains to discover where to find the best drive-thru breakfast in America.
Director: Cassandra Lee Hamilton
Music: Cowabunga Babes
Earlier today, Amazon took the wraps off Prime Music, a new addition to the company’s Prime subscription service. It’s best known for free two-day shipping and Netflix- style video streaming (which now includes a ton of HBO content), but Music adds an important component: music!
In other words, for an annual charge of $99, you can now stream unlimited, commercial- free tunes just about anywhere. Prime Music is available via your PC, your Roku box, your Kindle Fire, your Android and iOS devices, and so on.
Let’s go to the calculator, shall we?
With only five shopping days left until Father’s Day, it’s time to make a decision on what to get for dear old Dad. A necktie? Fail. A new drill? There’s nothing wrong with the old one. No, if you want a happy dad this Sunday, there’s only one way to go: gadgets.
Dad loves ‘em, and there are plenty of cool new toys out there that won’t break the budget. Here’s my list of five can’t-miss picks for Father’s Day.
Bluetooth speakers are awesome, but most of them are boring-looking plastic bricks. The BlueSync WUD, on the other hand, is all cool and retro–just like Dad. Encased in wood and styled like a 50s radio, it sports a big volume knob and even a carrying strap across the top. Vintage, baby!
Corporate marketing stunts have ruined The Guinness Book Of World Records. I came to this realization after hearing about Arby’s marketing stunt where they filmed a brisket being smoked for 13 hours and played it in its entirety as a commercial in Duluth, Minnesota. This marketing stunt won them the World Record for The Longest TV Commercial, and it really pissed me off.
I think I have a right to be upset. I’ve always held the Guinness Book Of World Records in high esteem. The latest edition was a guaranteed Christmas present in my household. I would spend hours reading about all of the weird and incredible things that people around the world could achieve and dreaming of one day having my name in that book. As far as I was concerned, holding a Guinness World Record was better than getting a Nobel Prize. You saved a bunch of sick kids with your dumb vaccine? Who cares! Come back to me after you’ve been growing your finger nails for 20 years or you learn to squirt milk from your eyes. Then I’ll be impressed.
I’m continuing my foray into some of the more interesting internet subscription service options and whether or not they’re actually worth that monthly fee.
Mavens by Julep
The Premise: Nail polish brand Julep provides a monthly themed box of high-end nail polish and cosmetics for a fee of $24.99. Users pick from a style profile, with names like “It Girl” or “Boho Glam,” and are sent selections for that month’s theme. While you’re given a box that matches your style profile by default, you can opt to choose a box from a different style profile.
The Experience: I spoke with Meredith, a User Experience Expert in Southern California who is a big fan of the service. A self-described nail polish addict, Meredith finds that the subscription service has really helped her curb her spending without sacrificing her nails. “Last year my New Years resolution was to stop impulse buying nail polish, so I got the [Mavens subscription]. It keeps me on budget and they have enough different “packages” each month that I never feel like there’s nothing I don’t want.”
As a child I learned to respect my elders, but it’s awfully hard to do that when they can’t grasp a concept as simple as cut and paste!
Seriously, at the risk of sounding like a jerk, most of the people I know over the age of 60 have trouble with computers. It’s not their fault; they didn’t have the luxury of growing up with them. And even in 2014, PCs remain annoyingly unintuitive. Shutting down Windows 8 is a four-step process, for crying out loud.
So here’s my dilemma: My parents (who are in their late 70s and early 80s) have had it with their current laptops, which take forever to boot and often end up infested with malware. And I’ve about had it with troubleshooting these and other problems.
Fortunately, there’s a terrific solution, one I’m increasingly recommending to older users: switch to a tablet.
So you got the Facebook message from your home-town pal that we all dread – ‘I’m coming to LA! Can’t wait to hang out with you! HOLLYWOOD BABY!’, and you immediately begin to rig up an elaborate lie about how you are ‘so happy they’re coming out but you will probably be super busy that weekend’ because you don’t have the heart to show them your glamorous lifestyle involves attaching a pink mustache to your car to make money before you go home to your sad studio apartment in Glendale above an Armenian bakery. Fear not, we’re here to give you some insider tips into tricking your friends into thinking you are way cooler than you actually are while they’re here on their trip.
1. Lay Out Poolside As You Overlook The City
The Standard downtown is one of LA’s hottest hotels and night spots, and is also home to a rooftop pool which, for some inexplicable reason, is open to the public. That’s right, for no money at all you too can feel self conscious about your Midwest body type while some of the cities most attractive and unemployed people lay out and drink cocktails nearby. Get there early to snag a bodega, which will not only shield you from the sun’s harsh rays, but give you a chance to lay on a waterbed just like weekends at your old Uncle Jack’s place. Bring along your own picnic and make a day of it, or splurge on the delicious brats in their Biergarden.