Solebon LogoThere are over 350,000 apps on Apple’s App Store for iOS devices, and everyone has their favorites. Just like everyone else, I’ve got some apps that I find essential, useful, and just plain fun.  This post and the next couple will cover some of them.

In this post I’m going to cover the must-haves, the ones that I check several times a day.  For the sake of time, I’m going to forgo the standard pre-installed apps like Safari and the App Store itself.  Here they are, in no particular order:

 

 

 

Pulse Logo

Pulse News Reader

This app is fantastic.  The interface is sleek and intuitive, and it’s easy to customize the content with anything from RSS feeds of your favorite blogs to your Twitter or Facebook feeds.  I use this app all day.


Facebook LogoFacebook

It’s Facebook. Do I need to say anything else?

 

 

 

Weather Channel Logo

The Weather Channel

This one’s in the top row of my news folder on my iPhone.  I check it every morning and afternoon.

 

 

 

Tweetdeck LogoTweetDeck

There are many flavors of Twitter clients out there, but I like that this one allows me to easily create lists of people so I can separate people I know from people I don’t.  I’ve made some categories to make sorting through the sheer tonnage of posts a little easier.

 

 

Pandora LogoPandora

I love this app.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, you create a “station” on this music app based on an artist, song or genre that you like, and it finds a bunch of music that goes well with your choice.  It’s a great way to find new music, and best of all, it’s free. I can’t recommend this app highly enough.

 

ESPN Scorecenter LogoESPN Scorecenter

I admit it, I’m a sports guy.  Mostly NFL, but I’m a fan of all the local teams, and this app makes it easy to check the scores, standings and news related to your favorite teams across pro and collegiate sports.  Great app to have if you missed a a game and want to check out the final results, box score and analysis.

 

Fruit Ninja LogoFruit Ninja

I like games, but I have some criteria.  The games I like need to be quick, casual and simple.  I’ve got too much going on throughout the day to be able to invest any real time into a game on my phone.  I’ve got some of the popular big games on my phone, like Madden NFL and Civilization IV, but I simply don’t have the time to play them. Fruit Ninja separates itself because you can figure it out in less than 10 seconds, and it’s good addictive fun.  Fruit flies up in the air and you have to slice it with your finger before it falls.  End of story.  Fast, simple and fun.

 

Solebon LogoSolebon

Easily the best solitaire game in the app store.  Tons of games, simple, elegant artwork, and instructions that are pretty straight-forward on the games you haven’t played before. Great app when you have a couple of minutes to kill and don’t want to get wrapped up in anything.

 

 

Scramble Logo

Scramble

I’m a word game addict.  I have a folder on my iPhone dedicated just to word games.  The king of that folder is Scramble.  It’s concept is pretty much the same as Boggle, where you have a grid of letters and make as many words as you can by connecting adjacent letters.  I love it.  Another good game if you’ve got some time to kill. The only downside is that the dictionary they use is too big.  It’s pretty much a guarantee that there are words that you’ve never heard of, and some that you might even think are not words at all.  If you can get past the fact that you’ll never get 100% of the words, you’ll enjoy this game.

 

Dragon Dictation

This is a great speech-to-text tool.  Right from the built-in menu you can send your note directly to Twitter, Facebook or the email app.  You can also copy it with one tap for pasting into the app of your choice.  So if you haven’t quite got the knack of typing on the on-screen keyboard, or if you don’t want to take the time to type one-handed, you can let Dragon Dictation do all the work for you.

So that’s it. Share your favorite apps in the comments.

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A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to visit Microsoft’s N.E.R.D. center (New England Research & Development). I know, an unabashed Apple lover deep in Microsoft territory is fertile soil for all sorts of snarky comments.  On display was one of Microsoft’s much talked-of Surface devices.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that I have been pretty interested in this project.  I’ve seen some pretty slick demo videos online that showed off some neat abilities. As a matter of fact, this is the one project I thought Microsoft had a chance of really going somewhere with.  Let’s just say, I should have known better.

The touch response is laggy and inaccurate, the UI Design is wonky, and the swiping motion to turn pages/switch applications worked poorly because it sensed both the swipe you intended as well as you moving your hand back to where it was.  All in all, it was a frustrating experience.

I guess it just goes to show, you can’t trust the big M with potentially cool technology.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.  Where’s all the grownup music? If you go back 15 or so years, there were popular groups whose music was played on MTV and on popular radio stations whose demographic was almost completely adults.  Acts like Genesis, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon and others were writing good, new music.  They weren’t rehashing old styles, they were creating their own sound.

I’m over thirty, and I feel like the music scene is flooded with Lady Gaga’s brand of vapid, useless music.  All teen angst, all the time.  I’d like to assure you that I’m not looking for a resurgence of Cristopher Cross or REO Speedwagon, but where’s the good music for adults?

One argument I’ve heard is that the music industry has become super-segmented, like the television industry.  There are 32 flavors of an individual genre now, when we used to use broad categories.  Now there’s Alt-Rock, Alt-Pop and Alt-Punk when it used to just be Alternative.  That segmentation is causing radio stations to become more narrow in their selection, which in turn is pushing any adult-oriented music to the fringes.  Interesting thought.

Another argument is that the music industry sees the High School/College demographic as being the most lucrative, and are constantly cranking out bands and music to appease their fickle taste.  Musicians aren’t given as much of an opportunity to grow and develop their own sound.

I’ve been assured that Adult Music is still out there, if I can just go find it.  Here’s the problem though:  I don’t have time to look for it.  I’m over thirty.  I have two kids, work full-time, have a house.  You know, the whole adult thing.  Adults need radio stations to be playing adult music so they can be exposed to it and then go buy the albums.

Vive la Steely Dan!

The first Sunday of NFL football is one of my favorite days of the year. The weather was cool and sunny in my neck of the woods, there were nachos and pizza, and my Patriots romped on the Bengals.  I’d just like to take this moment to bring up the fact that Wes Welker may have sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his freakish athletic abilities.  He’s small, fast, and disgustingly tough.  He had major knee surgery a mere 9 months ago.  Most players undergoing that kind of surgery miss a lot of football, and when they finally come back it takes more than a season to get back to their normal form.  But not Wes Welker! No, sir! 9 months after going under the knife, the little receiver that could made the first two touchdowns of the game, got popped a couple times and got right back up.

Brady and Moss looked great, the new tight ends were promising, and I’ve got an overall good feeling about the whole thing.

You know when you read an article on a popular site and the first 20 or 30 people who read it try to be the first one who post? That’s kind of weird.  You just read this thoughtful, insightful piece on malnourished children in third-world countries (why don’t we ever hear about second-world countries? Where are they anyway?) and the first 20 or so posts are people trying to beat each other to the punch and you have a page full of “FIRST!”.  Or the popular alternative, “FRIST!”

So this is my first real post on a real blog. My intentions are to update regularly, but, honestly, who has the time? Between the family obligations, work, and all the good shows on TV, how can one be expected post all the time? So check back often, but I make no guarantees.

That’s it for today!

About Me

First off, I try to live my life in a way that pleases God. I'm active in my church, I love my wife and kids, I'm a gadget guy that loves all sorts of cool tech stuff, and I'm an art buff that knows just enough to sound like I know what I'm talking about. I'm also a two-and-a-half sport guy, following the Patriots and Red Sox, with half an eye on the Celtics.

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