Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New iPod, website stuff, career thoughts

Well, thankfully, after my Nano broke, I had enough money to replace my iPod right away, and so I IPOD TOUCH! Yay! For around $295, I got an 8G iPod Touch, a hard case, and a set of screen protectors (I'm not taking any chances).

I got the Touch because of the ability to have apps. That was something I wish I had on my Nano. I saw the iPhone commercials that advertised the apps, and I really wanted them. I tried not to go overboard buying apps, but with some of those combined with some American Idol songs I bought, I spent about $40, according to my last iTunes receipt! So I have to be careful from now on.

They have so many apps in the App Store on iTunes (the iPod Touch itself actually comes with the App Store on it as well, but it's not identical to the one on iTunes). Some of them (especially the games) are really weird. I guess this is what happens when you let just anyone create an app.

A good number of the apps cost money, though most of them don't cost that much (they're usually in the 99¢-$2.99 range). The only expensive ones are some of the games, like Cake Mania 3 and Dance Dance Revolution S, as well as some of the higher-end productivity or business apps. There are a lot of free ones as well, though most of the free ones are "lite" versions (demos, basically) of paid apps -- although that is kind of nice in case you're not sure you want to buy an app. There are many free apps that are not demos though, such as the Facebook app (one of the first I downloaded) and the app (which lets you look up words even without wifi on -- which is really nice).

One of the coolest things about the iPod Touch though is that IT CAN GO ONLINE. It uses wi-fi to do this, and the wifi is free as far as I can tell. Granted, I can't always get a wifi signal. (I downloaded an app called "WiFi Trak" that can tell you what wifi networks are in the area, which should help, since the iPod's regular wifi settings don't always detect all the networks around). To my mother, this is the coolest thing about the device. I find it cool too, though the internet has limits compared to surfing the internet on my laptop. For one, it's sometimes hard to click links on a page because the writing is often so small (you can zoom the screen though, or turn the iPod sideways, which makes it get bigger). Also, although the iPod Touch comes with a separate little YouTube thing (separate from the iPod's default web browser, Safari), you can't do all the things you would normally do on YouTube with it (like check your inbox or anything else specific to your account). It's good for just watching clips though, if anything, and you can still search for videos.

I am pretty satisfied with the apps I have downloaded, though I've deleted some I realized weren't useful. I also deleted the DDR game because it was too hard (I'm not good at regular DDR anyway). I have yet to find a good app for blogging on this blog on the go (I'm trying a lite version of an app right now that supports Blogger, but I can't quite figure out how it works). At present, the apps I have on my iPod are:
  • Facebook - Like the YouTube thing, this app doesn't let you do every single thing you can do on the regular Facebook. It does let you see your news feed, profile, friends, and inbox, as well as chat and change your status and photo on the go, though, so it's pretty decent. (Half the time all I do on Facebook is change my status once and a while and check my inbox and fan pages). Plus, it's free!
  • AIM - There are two apps for AIM, the paid version and the free version. The free version has ads, otherwise it's exactly the same as the paid version. I went ahead and paid the $2.99 needed for the paid version because I didn't want ads. It basically lets you IM on the go (I haven't IM'd anybody from it yet though).
  • Yahoo! Messenger - I only started using Yahoo! Messenger because I had a friend who had an MSN account and couldn't use AIM. This is a free app, unlike AIM, and pretty much has the usual features of YIM.
  • LinkedIn - I couldn't believe this app was free! Basically, this app works similar to the Facebook app in that it simulates a social networking site, in this case LinkedIn, a social network for those looking for work to connect with employers. It's pretty cool.
  • BlogWriter Lite - This is that Blogger-supporting app I was telling you about. I haven't quite figured out how it works (for one, it says this blog has 0 posts, which is far from true!). This app also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds, though I may end up doing that with this free app called Daisy Feed I'm thinking of downloading later.
  • YouSave! Lite - A "lite" version of a paid app that I'm trying out. This app allows you to put in the regular price of something that's marked down, then its discount percentage. When you do, the app will tell you how much the discounted price of the item will be! Nifty, huh? I'm a bargain person, so it's a great thing to have.
  • Mobile News and Video - Basically what it sounds like. I know my dad would want this app - he's a big fan of Consumer Reports. It's useful if you want to buy something but you're not sure what brand or something like that.
  • Now Playing - Basically lets you find movie times and such, also lets you see movie releases on DVD. Pretty cool.
  • Library - A cool app with a cute icon (a little teddy bear with books - go here to see it). Using your current location, it helps you find libraries near you. It's from a developer called DoubleTapApps, all of whose apps are targeted to families with young kids. I tried it, it basically puts pins in a map for the libraries near you based on your current location (apparently the iPod Touch has limited GPS capabilities -- not as much capability as the iPhone though). And like I said, the icon is really cute.
  • Pedometer - This is one of the first apps I downloaded, and it's really useful. It counts your steps, like a pedometer usually does, and counts the calories burned. You can also keep a log of your daily totals. The first day I used it, I walked over 4,000 steps!
  • MyGrades Lite - I'm going to try this out with my summer class to see if I want to get the full version for fall. Basically, you put in your assignments and what you got on them, and the app calculates your grade in the class. It's really nice to know where you're at, especially around test time.
  • iHomework - Basically an app that acts as a school planner. It got really good reviews on iTunes. It was only 99¢ too. If it works out, I won't have to buy a planner for school, meaning one less thing to carry in my backpack.
  • Classics - This 99¢ app was rated high in the Books section of the App Store. It was also featured in the "Read" iPhone commercial. Basically, it lets you read classic books. It comes with a preloaded selection of books that I assume can be updated as they update the app. The books appear as covers on a bookshelf, then you can open them and read them like a real book, à la Kindle. (There's actually a real Kindle app in the App Store too - and it's free, so I may try it).
  • Pollen Journal Lite - The lite version of an app that lets you know the pollen count near you and keep track of your allergy symptoms. This is a nice app for me because I am allergic to pollen. Supposedly, using the journal function helps the app to determine which types of pollen allergens you are very allergic to. Pretty cool.
  • French-English Dictionary - Yay! I am so happy there is an app for this. I use all the time, especially for looking up French words. And it was free too, amazingly enough. It will be nice to have this on the go, especially since both of the French teachers I've had so far at CSUSM don't like you to use laptops in class.
  • - Basically an app version of the famous dictionary website. It also features thesaurus capabilities. As I said before, you can search for words without having wifi on; some of the capabilities, like Word of the Day, do require wifi though. Still, pretty cool, and FREE.
  • WiFiTrak - A really decent app for finding a wifi signal wherever you are. This is nice because the default wifi settings on the iPod Touch don't always detect all nearby networks.
  • IndieBound - This is a quirky little free app developed by the American Booksellers Association. It basically gives you book recommendations from indie bookstores (and if you like a book, the app will link you to the site of an indie bookstore where you can get it), as well as providing a book search and a location-based indie business finder (it can find more than just indie bookstores). That's pretty neat. As a former employee of an indie bookstore, I'm definitely all for supporting indie businesses.
  • Urbanspoon is an app I read about in Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine. Basically, based on your location and info you give it (like that you want an Italian restaurant), it finds restaurants for you. Pretty cool, no?
  • Tennis ATP/WTA is an app that provides pro tennis scores, which I find interesting only because tennis is the only pro sport I ever watch by myself (I'll watch baseball if my dad or brother is watching it and I'm eating dinner or something), and not even that often.
  • France24 Live - This is an interesting app. It lets you watch live news video in English, French, or Arabic in a variety of categories. When I first tried it, I watched a report from the Cannes Film Festival. I figure watching this will help with my French (I know that watching subtitled anime helped my Japanese pronunciation, so hopefully this will help my French pronunciation).
  • Newsdesk - A pretty basic app that gives you the top headlines in a nice skim-able format. Nice way to keep up on what's going on in the world. You can skim world news, Science and Technology news, and Entertainment news with this app. It's viewable without wi-fi on, but you need wi-fi on to update it.
  • - A news app for the French newspaper Le Monde. Again, like NewsDesk, you can view it without wifi on, but you need wifi to update it. I figured I should read news in French to keep my skills up.
  • K-WAVE - An app that lets you listen to K-WAVE, a Christian station based around here.
  • Y! Music - An app for Yahoo! Music and its radio thing, Launch.
  • Pandora - A free (!?) app for the famous internet radio site Pandora.
  • Pinball - The most basic pinball game I could find. I don't need fancy stuff, I just wanted to play pinball, so I got this.
  • iMahjong Premium - I'm a big fan of computer mahjong, and have been since way back when I had the PC game Taipei on my Windows 3.1-running computer (which was in the early '90's). This game has really nice graphics and is pretty easy to play. It does also have a hint system if you get stuck, which is really nice.
  • MiniShogi - I have decided I want to try to learn shogi, or Japanese chess. I haven't played this game yet but it looks interesting.
  • SmartGo - Aside from shogi, I've also decided I want to learn to play the Asian board game go. I read the tutorial and it sounds easy and hard at the same time. It's sort of like checkers or chess in that there's white and black pieces and you try to capture your opponents' pieces, but other than that, it's unlike any board game I've ever played.
  • Solitaire - You can't go wrong with Solitaire. This is always a nice game to play if you need to kill time.
  • Jeopardy! - Basically an iPod version of the classic game show.
  • EvilOverlord - An app created by Thomas Cherry that displays "rules" from the famous Evil Overlord List. The app also allows you to create a to-do list of evil schemes and send an "emergency beacon" (basically a location-based thing showing where you are) to alert your henchmen of your current location. I'm a big fan of the Evil Overlord List, so I definitely wanted to get this.
I am working on websites at present. I decided to make my personal and writing sites separate. I also made a simple website for nalyd1996's Sailor Stars fandub. I got some work on my personal site done last night, since they sent me home early from work (probably because it was a holiday and they couldn't afford to pay everyone the extra money they get on holidays). It was frustrating because I kept thinking the site looked too plain. But I want to link to the fanlistings I want to make using this site, and one of the rules at is that you must prove you have HTML and graphics experience by making a website that is entirely your own work and providing them with the URL before you can apply for a fanlisting. So no pre-made layouts, basically. Plus, I like to do the sites entirely myself. (Granted, for the DIV layers, I used code my best friend showed me and which I still had in a Notepad document on my computer, since I'm not good at DIV layers yet). I'm not sure how I'm going to show graphics experience. I could make a banner, I guess, but I don't know how to make those big top banners people use now. I tried to do a big image like has, but it didn't work. I'll try to make something.

My personal site is going to be called Still Waters, after Psalms 23:2-3, which says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." It has a blue theme.

My writing site (which I may use a pre-made layout on to make it look more professional, at least till I can get more web design skills) will be called Forest of Light, after the elves' home in my Walden stories. It's also got a verse tied to it: "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel" (Isaiah 44:23). This makes me think of how things must've been after the Great War (the name of which I may change). It will have a forest theme, and to this effect I took several pictures of trees on my cell phone to use in the design.

I made a banner for Still Waters just now using my trial of Paint Shop Pro 7 (which I prefer to the new Paint Shop Pro; I have the CD for 7 but I can never get it to install right on my laptop) and it actually looks pretty good. I picked a color that fits into my color scheme, and by choosing certain stroke and fill colors and a texture, ended up with text that has a faded look, which is pretty cool. I made one the size of a blog header, which is big enough for me. I did have to move my other layers (my links, iframe, and a layer I put the Psalms 23 verse in) down a few pixels so they wouldn't be too close to the banner. But it looks fine.

I thought last night that maybe I should consider a career in web design, since I like making websites. MiraCosta has a certificate program in Web Design. But I don't know if my current major would work for that sort of job. I guess it would since I'm emphasizing in writing. I may need to talk to a career counselor about this. Because if I need to change my major, it would be better to do it now while it's still early.

Well, I want to go out and do some stuff today, since I'm off of work and some guys are working on our house anyway. Bye!

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