Tuesday, July 28, 2009

iPhone Explorations - Update

So a few weeks back I talked about three new apps I planned to try out. Since then I've replaced one, continue to use another, and rarely use the last one.

Twitterfon is a great app; however, I found one that is even better: Twitterrific. Why is Twitterrific better? The biggest difference that I see is that Twitterrific allows you to compress text and URLs BEFORE you post. With Twitterfon and other Twitter apps, you have to go out to tinyurl or other tiny url maker to make the link smaller and then paste that into your tweet. You would also have to look for text that could be replaced with abbreviated text-types. With Twitterrific, you just press a button and boom - text is compressed, and urls are shortened. One feature I do miss on Twitterfon is the ability to look at Tweep's followers/followings. You can see how many followers/followings a Tweep has but you cannot view who they are. That is a minor drawback to this great app. I currently use it for my personal, church, and ky wine lovers tweets.

VR+ was an app I installed to be able to post voice recordings to Twitter, FB, Blogger, etc. I used it for about a week, and just realized that voice tweeting wasn't my thing. Recording voice is not always convenient because you cannot be incognito about it. You need to be in a quiet place, and preferably without others around - otherwise you could look nutty. Nothing wrong with the app if you're into posting recordings; it's just not my thing (for now at least).

BrightKite has remained the lone survivor of my exploration trials. There was a brief period where I forgot to use it, but a friend "nudged" me to remind me to post something. It is superior to Loopt, but Loopt has the live tracking feature which BrightKite does not (you have to check in before someone knows where you are). So I have kept Loopt so my husband and I can keep track of one another, but BrightKite remains my choice for location tweeting. It also works well with FB Connect, and you can even configure the posting templates to include hashtags for Twitter.

In summary: Twitterrific better than Twitterfon; VR+ good app if you do recording tweets; BrightKite superior location app.

A few other apps I've been working with recently that are still in the review stage:

  • BlogPress - best app so far for blogging from your iphone
  • DoGood - increase your good karma with daily "do goods"
  • Quicken - view all of your financial accounts via a quickie app
  • MemoryInfo - short on memory? games crashing? don't reboot, just use this quick app
That's it for now folks, have a good week!

Conservative Tide Turning

Yesterday, Senator Jim Bunning (R-KY) announced that he would not be seeking re-election. YAY!! There are numerous reasons why some are happy about this news; I have two very distinct reasons:

  1. I strongly believe in term limits. Currently the Senate seats have no term limits, and because of this we have Senators who have become career politicians, sitting in those seats for decades - I don't believe that is the best for government. I even believe we should have term limits for the SCOTUS judges. Allowing a person to sit in the same office for decades just lends itself to these people getting in routines and doing the same ole, same ole, year after year. It gets more and more difficult for them to think outside the box and to embrace new ideas. I think it would be best to have a blend of old tradition and new ideas to help stabilize our country. Using one extreme or the other is never a good thing.

  2. Senator Bunning has been no friend to the gay community. He has co-sponsored, voted for, and given speeches time and again for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. I believe this is one of problems with the GOP. Instead of focusing on decreasing the size of government, government efficiency, and spending reductions, they have allowed the extreme religious right to control the party and push social agendas which actually increase the size and scope of the government. That is not being "conservative" in my opinion.
I'm certain that Senator Bunning has had some bright spots in his career, and I thank him for his public service; however, it's time (has been time) to go.

Looking to the future, I have a good feeling about Trey Grayson - our current (Republican) Secretary of State. Secretary Grayson has done an outstanding job as SOS of KY. I gave him my vote again this past election and would do so again. He has opened up the SOS services more than ever before with making so many of them available online. He has made the process of starting a new business in Kentucky almost effortless. He embraces technology and hopefully new ideas.

He does not have a current voting record. I am not sure about all his views on the social issues. I will be looking forward to hearing him speak on these topics. However, more importantly, I am hoping to hear that he plans to focus his work on reducing government size, spending, and inefficiency. While he may be for the "traditional" definition of marriage, I would be happy were he to go to DC and focus on fiscal issues instead of grand-standing on social issues. Too many politicians now use social issues as wedge issues to incite emotions in people to get them to the polls. As a conservative, I find that social issues are easily solved - do NOT involve the government. Involving government in making social decisions expands the size of government, and deteriorates our individual freedom. I realize were the issue of marriage to come up, he may have to vote based on his constituency's voice; however, I am hopeful that he does not use the issue to muddy the waters and to grand-stand to make a name for himself. If that is his path, then he won't get my vote.

We'll see how this plays out...

PS - LT. Gov. Mongiardo? I will never vote for him. I am done with back-stabbing Democrats. There may be some 'good' Dems left, but President Clinton, Rep Chandler (D-KY), President Obama, and Lt. Gov. Mongiardo have left me with a very sour taste for the Democratic party.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lake, KY (part II)

After a great night's sleep on the water, we packed up, and headed home today. It was a wonderful weekend and we greatly appreciate our family's hospitality.

So what is so great about boating? As I said, I just love riding around the lake. But there are tons of other things to do! Throw a rope behind the boat with a tube float attached or a person on skis or some other contraption and you have instant fun. Bring some worms and poles for fishing right off the boat. Drive out to the middle of the lake & jump out for a good swim. Find a nice quiet cove or beach to spend the day sunning and listening to good tunes. You're only limited by your own sense of adventure (and local liquor laws). One of my favorite memories was of fishing for croppy late at night. We'd tie lanterns off the back of the boat over the water. This would attract the shad (think minnows) which then would attract the croppy. I think I enjoyed being able to stay up that late as a kid.

So you cannot afford to buy a boat? Rent one! You can rent them by the hour, day, week, or longer: pontoons, runabouts, houseboats, jetskis, paddleboats, etc. But you do not have to have a boat to enjoy the lake.

A cheaper option is to buy a tent, reserve a campground spot near the water, and live with nature. These days most spots even have electricity & water! There are some where the spots are grouped closer together for a small community feeling; some have more private settings. There's usually a marina store nearby in case you forget or run out of food, drink, or just want to throw your money at souvenir stuff. Some also have restaurants. Usually they'll also have restroom and shower facilities. So you can actually rough it or not as much as want. Build campfires, go hiking, go swimming, or lay in the tent all day if you want. This weekend we walked through the campground and found a large group celebrating Christmas in July - complete with lights, trees, & santa hats. We asked one if them about it, and she said it was the best way for all of them to get together and celebrate a holiday. It was cool :)

Looking for even less investment - you can do that too! Many of the larger lakes have public beach areas. All you need to pay for is the gasoline to get there. Some have on duty lifeguards, most have picnic areas with tables and grills, and some even have playground areas. I have lots of great memories of swimming with friends & then eating cold - yes cold - fried chicken.

I feel certain there are a ton of other great lake ideas - some legal; some not. So after enjoying the warmth of bourbon in the winter and excitement of horse racing in the fall & spring, in the summer, make sure you enjoy another pride of Kentucky - our great lakes!

PS ~ about spending time with fam: KY lakes are a great way to do that!! Thanks again to Joe, Anne, Leah, & Nathan for a wonderful weekend!!

Lake, KY (part I)

We spent the weekend with my sister-in-law & her family on their houseboat on Lake Cumberland. We've had a great time! I decided to post just to say that I have blogged while on water - it's the little things in life :)

Spending time with family for us is quite possibly at the top of our goal lists. We've lost some very close family members early in our lives and that has made us realize that we do not want to miss out on sharing our lives with our families.

Now I could carry on about how everyone should cherish their families, but why restate the obvious? Instead, let us talk about the lake.

I did not consult Wikipedia, but I do believe that Kentucky has more lakes than any other state. We're not just talking pond water folks - we're talking big economy-generating water!

Kentucky is well-known for our horses and our bourbon; but, there is a sizeable segment of our country's population that knows us for our relaxing waterspots. This weekend, I have noticed many of the docked boats call surrounding states home. That is an impressive accomplishment of our tourism industry - having spent years of my life living on and visiting lakes, I cannot imagine driving to another state just to go to the lake! But here I am surrounded by locals and citizens of other states, all of us drawn to the Kentucky water.

So what is the big deal about the lake - it's just ole dirty water right? Of course not! There is so much you can do at the lake, it would be difficult to not find something fun for everyone.

My guess is that most people's primary focus when coming to the lake is the lake itself. The water can be enjoyed in so many ways. Boating is one of the more popular routes. Some have their own boat - bass boat, runabout, cruiser, cabin cruiser, pontoon, houseboat, etc. Some rent boats from the local marinas for a day or even a week or more. Maybe it's because my childhood was filled with boating summers or because I'm a Pisces, but simply being on the water is all I really need to enjoy - all else is bonus! I love just riding around, feeling that wind against my face; water misting on my sun-drenched skin. But do not fear! There are tons of things to do while boating.

And tomorrow, we'll talk about all of those.... But it's late and the water is gently rocking me to sleep.... Goodnite!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Our Independence

Saturday is July 4th - Independence Day. Like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween, is the true meaning of Independence Day becoming lost? I'm concerned that it is.

Ask most kids about the holiday and they will define it as the day when we set off fireworks, eat lots of food, and the parents have the day off from work. Mention something about Independence Day, Britain, Declaration of Independence, or revolution and they stare at you oddly.

Anybody can Google the history so there is no need to go into it here, but I hope we not only read about but we share the history with our children and others.

No doubt that America has had its dark days of internal issues, and it continues to struggle with some issues. But a nation that prides itself on individuals rights And freedoms cannot be expected to be perfect. These rights and freedoms allow for our country to have a very diverse population; we cannot be expected to agree on everything. Compromise takes time but we should always have hope that one day we'll reach an agreement.

I realize many political issues these days divide us and leave many of us feeling ostracized within our population - this can make patriotism a difficult attribute to attain. However, even with all of our faults, it is my opinion that this country continues to provide the best opportunity to effect change in how it is governed.

So tomorrow take the time to educate your kids, your family, your friends, and especially yourself about why we have this grand celebration in July!

(iphone post)

iPhone Explorations

Hey folks!!

I've been looking at reducing the apps on my iPhone but making sure I still have all the "power" I "need" to stay in contact with folks. Now maybe I'm one of the few that is just getting around to this, but I have totally shuffled up the 4 apps that get that sweet-spot that is static at the bottom of the screen.

Before it used to contain the Phone, Messages, Email, & iPod. Does anyone still use their iPhone as a phone? Sure I still make a few calls, but most is done via Twitter, FB, Texting or email.

Email is still a big component of my communication, so it was the only original native app that got to stay in static section. I use it for work, personal, church activities, etc. So I still feel it has enough importance to keep. The Phone, Messages & iPod apps found a new home - not far away, still on the first page, near the bottom.

So what are the new apps that were worthy of the static spot?

First, Twitterfon. It's a Twitter app that has all the Twitter features you'll ever need. What I like about it is its simple format but still comes with all the features I need. One such feature is multiple accounts. I not only update my own Twitter, but I also do all the tweets for my church's Twitter account. So multiple account handling was very necessary.

Second, an app that came to me via a friend - Kevin P. I saw him using this odd app to update his Twitter status - called BrightKite. If you've ever used Loopt, it is similar to that app. It allows you to "check-in" to locations chosen by your or the GPS, and you can allow it to update your FB and/or Twitter. Now I have been an ecstatic user of Loopt, but the drawback with it is that you have to use a cell phone # in order to add people or give yours out in order to have people add you. You would think with all the information we're allowing people to have, giving them our cell # would not be an issue - but it's still a bit weird to do so - I think because you can't simply block people from calling you, but it's very simple to block someone from Twitter, Loopt, etc. That said, BrightKite does NOT use your cell # for social contacting. You can see activity or people within various ranges of your location. You can also post pics and other comments with it.

The final and newest app I've found is VR+. It is a voice recorder that allows you to share the recordings via email, FB, Myspace, Twitter, or Blogger. You can also log them all on their website. I'm not sure if this one will catch on, but I thought it would add a new media dimension to the social interacting experience. We'll see how she goes.

I'm still searching for that perfect app that allows you to do FB, Twitter, and Blogger all in one. ShoZu was promising but it has lots of bugs which hang up the program a lot so I've not been happy with it. If someone has any suggestions, let me know.

What does any of this have to do with Independence Day (4th of July for those too young to remember what this holiday really is)? Well... look at Iran.... and the impact Twitter, FB and other social networking apps have had on their freedom and revolution recently. And people think these things are just for those tech-obsessed types like me? ha! Viva la Revolucion Technologia!

Testing a new voice/twitter app