Awesome iPhone App Roundup

Since I’ve owned an iPhone now for about 6 months I’ve discovered many cool and useful apps.  Here are a few of my favorites that do cool or unique things for a cell phone:

MLB At Bat 2010 – $14.99 – This app is a great companion to the MLB.TV subscription which I purchased this year.  It allows me to stream video or audio of any game that isn’t blacked out to my phone.  So far it has been mostly novelty, but did come in handy recently when out to dinner, we could watch the Twins game at our table instead of the Red Sox or Yankees who dominate most TVs at bars and restaurants here.  I can’t get over how cool it is to be able to watch baseball on my phone over 3G with crystal clear video.

Air Video – $2.99 – With Air Video you can stream videos on demand from your home computer to your iPhone without the need to convert them first and download them to the iPhone.  In order to do so, you just install a small server application on your computer and tell it where to look for video.  Then fire up the iPhone app and connect to your home PC over WiFi or 3G over the internet and you can browse any video you have shared and stream it directly to your phone.  If you spend a lot of time converting video for use on your iPhone, this app will complete eliminate this step, saving you lots of time converting and saving videos to your iPhone. How cool is that?

Geocaching – $9.99 – If you know me well, you know I enjoy geocaching.  This app gives me a direct link to the data stored on the geocaching.com servers, including cache locations on a map, cache descriptions, hints, previous logs, pretty much everything that comes in handy when geocaching.  I still use my Garmin handheld GPSr for dedicated geocaching trips, but many times I also have my iPhone out, using it to learn more about the cache to help me find it.  Also it comes in handy for impromptu geocaching, such as when we were at the mall this past weekend and I got a notification that there were two new caches at the mall, so we paused our shopping and were the first to find both of them.

Foursquare – Free – Foursquare is a unique location based app that lets you check in to places you visit and see where your friends are checked in. Also you can see tips left by other users when you check into locations, so you can know whether to try the clam pizza or not.  Also, if you check in more times than anyone else in a couple month span, you can become mayor of that location, which at participating business can provide you with special discounts or free food.  Unfortunately not many of my friends use this yet, nor do many business in New Haven provide deals for Mayors, but I’m hoping one day this will really catch fire and my mayorships will pay off.

MyTown – Free – Like Foursquare, the main idea of this game is to check into the places you visit in your town.  Once you check in, you are able to buy that place of business and add it to your “town”.  When other users visit places you own, you can collect rent from them, which allows you to upgrade and buy more venues that you visit.  It is fun building up your town and seeing which places are more popular than others, providing more rent.  This location based app feels more like a game than Foursquare, but lacks the social aspects that Foursquare provides.  Since most of my friends don’t use either of these apps, I get the most entertainment out of MyTown over Foursquare because of the emphasis on game play over the social benefits of the game.

Glympse – Free – I just recently downloaded this app and haven’t used it much, but it gives you the ability to send a friend a link that shows where you are on a map on their computer.  If you leave the application open on the iPhone, it will show your friend where you are traveling, how fast you are going, etc… I think this will be handy for me so I can let Maggie know where I go when I take off geocaching so she can find me if she ever needs to.

Golf Logix – 24hr Free Trial, $39.95 yearly membership – Since golf season has recently started, I decided to try to find some apps to help my golf game.  This one is handy because it shows you distances to the green, and various other locations (bunker, water, 150 yard layup, etc..) for each hole as you play it.  I used the free trial on my most recent golf outing, and can see how this would be a very handy and inexpensive range finder.  We’ll see if I decide to fork out for the subscription service or not.  Still I think this is a great use of the GPS technology provided by the iPhone 3GS.

Mocha VNC Lite – Free – If you’re a geek like me you’re probably familiar with what VNC is.  It basically allows you to connect to your computer from any other computer and use it like you were sitting in front of it.  This application does the same, only on the small screen of the iPhone.  It works surprisingly well, although I don’t use it very often, I still think it’s cool to be able to do such a thing from my phone.

Target – Free – If you’re a frequent Target shopper like me, this app will come in handy.  It lets you select your local store and search for a product and returns the price and aisle location so you can quickly find it.  Also, they just added a bar code scanner function, so you can scan the bar code to find the price of an item while in the store or at home.

Pandora Radio – Free – Streaming music even over 3G connections, ’nuff said!  Comes in handy while working out when I’ve tired of my MP3 library.

IMDB (Internet Movie Database) – Free – Maggie and I use this application very often, when we want to figure out who the actor is in a show or movie we’re watching, and what other shows they’ve been on.

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Learn One Thing: De-Gas Beans

Those of you visiting from Kristie’s blog, The Eid’s Have It, will already be aware of this tip, but since it’s new to me I figured I’d feature it here as part of my Learn One Thing series.  Apparently it is possible to remove/deactivate the gas producing attributes of beans!  Kristie discovered this process recently while researching ham and bean soup recipes.  Check out her post to read more about her experience and find out if it really works:

Beans, beans the magical fruit.

Baseball Season

Today is opening day for Major League Baseball.  I’ve never quite understood the theory of essentially starting the season on a Monday.  Wouldn’t a weekend start make more sense and get more people involved in those first few exciting games?  Anyway, I’m excited for what the season has in store for the Minnesota Twins.  I think they’ve made a good team better in the off-season, so it should be fun to see how far they can go this year.   I’m also excited to see them playing outdoors at Target Field.  Thanks to the wonders of MLB.TV (live internet broadcast) , I’ll be able to watch just about any Twins game I want over the course of the season.  I already started with the exhibition game at Target Field on Friday night.  Maggie said it well when she noted that it didn’t look like a home game because nothing looked familiar at all.  I’m sure after a few weeks we’ll get used to seeing Target Field on the TV and it will start to feel like their home park.

The Twins start their season on the road tonight when the visit the Anaheim Angels.  Game time is 10:05 Eastern and I’ll be watching!

Follow your favorite athlete on Twitter

One cool thing about Twitter is that it can bring you closer to people you wouldn’t normally be connected to, such as celebrities (who have really starting using Twitter a lot lately) and professional athletes in order to see what they have to say.  I’ve tried to follow celebrities before, such as Ashton Kutcher when he was trying to beat CNN to 1 million followers, but I never found them that interesting.  Recently I stumbled across Twitter-Athletes.com which is a website that contains a directory of professional athletes (and winter olympians) twitter accounts so you can follow your favorite athlete.  Just about every team has someone who tweets even a little bit, so most teams are covered.

Here are a few sports related athletes that I currently follow:

tp://twitter-athletes.com

Learn One Thing: Replace Your Lost Cellphone Charger for Free

Just a quick update with a trick I learned today via a post on LifeHacker.  Apparently most hotels have a box of cell phone chargers just lying around, so if you lose yours you can go to a nearby popular hotel and pretend like you left yours there on your last stay, and they will let you peruse the lost and found box of chargers to see if you can find it.  If you’re lucky you find a charger that is compatible with your phone, if not, on to the next hotel down the street… What a clever trick!

Replace Your Lost Cellphone Charger For Free [LifeHacker]

Learn One Thing: Minimum Credit Card Purchase Requirements

Sorry for the lapse in the Learn One Thing series. It is really tough to write about one thing every day, along with all the other stuff I want to do in a day. Anyway, I just learned today that:

Businesses that accept Visa, MasterCard, and Discover aren’t allowed to set minimum-purchase policies (these credit card companies strictly forbid it)

American Express does allow it, but discourages the practice to keep customers happy. I think this is interesting because I know I’ve run across a few places (one local bar here in CT that I play darts at occasionally comes to mind) and think that it is unfair to have a $10 or $15 minimum charge, causing me to use their in house ATM machine if I don’t have enough cash on hand. Next time I’m in this situation though, I will know that technically they’re not allowed to utilize this practice, and try to get them to waive the policy. At least they accept credit cards, unlike a very popular pizza place we visited recently here in New Haven that many people claim has the best pizza. I guess people still go there despite this fact!

Source: Don’t Get Intimidated By “Credit Card Minimum Purchases” [Credit Card Outlaw] (via Lifehacker)

Holiday Recap

Here’s a quick summary (with some pics below) of our Holiday Vacation to Minnesota/Wisconsin. Needless to say, not an hour was wasted! It was nice to see everyone, but it is good to be ‘home’ and back into a routine. It was a crazy 10 days!

December 22nd, 2009
Drove to Bradley International (Hartford, CT) and flew to Minneapoils – St. Paul
Christmas Shopping
Pre-Christmas Party with St. Olaf friends
Johnston side extended family Christmas Eve
Mathison/Berg side extended family Christmas Day
Day with my Parents in Eau Claire
3rd Christmas/gift exchange in Eau Claire with Mom/Dad and Brent/Kristen
4th Christmas evening get together with Higgins side
Meet coworkers at EcoLab/Patterson for lunch
Swap Cars
Game night with Maggie’s High School Teacher & Friends
Dentist Appointment (no cavities!)
Darts/Cards with my friends and dart teammates and significant others
Lunch with Maggie’s aunt/uncle
Ice Skating with my parents
Dinner/Games with my parents and Maggie’s Mom
Wedding Dress shopping (the girls)
Lunch with dress shopping party
Visit Maggie’s Dad and step Mom on New Years Eve
New Year’s Eve @ Bryan’s
Catch ride to airport from Bryan and fly from MSP to BDL, drive back to New Haven.
Jan 1, 2010