Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Best iPhone Apps

My cell phone upgrade finally kicked in a couple of months ago, and I broke down and bought an iPhone. My motivation for a smartphone was that I needed to be able to access my calendar in real time - both work and personal - and I bascially wanted a computer in my pocket. Now the irony here is that I'm getting older (at an age where my vision is beginning to change) and my computer screen keeps getting smaller. I need an app that will allow me to send my phone screen to my tv :)

When I first asked friends about whether to get an iPhone or something else, the response was overwhelming - "You'll LOVE it," "You won't know what you did without it," "You need one for each hand." My first thought was they were over selling it...it surely wasn't THAT cool or addictive. Boy was I wrong. Of course, I'm still in the honeymoon phase with it, but I quickly became very attached. I keep looking for cool apps. Some that I can use in my classes, some I can use for my own organization/productivity, and some just for fun. For starters, I have loaded about 10 Gb of music and find myself being one of those annoying people who walks around with earbuds in more often than not. It has kind of made me fall in love with music all over again.

The apps I use most (at this point) are the calendar, email, facebook, tweetdeck, youtube, and the browser. I also found Pandora, Shop Savvy, Yelp, Shazaam, TV.com, and a few other popular choices. Today, I found an article on the Digital Trends web site with the top apps. I saw some there that I'll probably give a whirl. Anyone out there have a favorite app (or more) that you just can't live without?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Reading Suggestions?

Other than learning new software, rebuilding courses, and a July of conferences…I can now take a breath. Teachers look forward to a little summer break, too. I’m trying to figure out what to read this summer for recreation as opposed to reading to prep for classes.

One of my favorite parts of the semester is when we cover PowerPoint in the Microcomputer Applications course. Instead of a written test, the students create a presentation about their favorite… I like it when I get great ideas for summer reading or movies. They have no idea that part of my motivation for this assignment is so selfish. Through these presentations, I have picked up books by Chuck Palahniuk, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and became completely addicted to Lost.

I’m a big fan of Dexter, so I always like to make sure I have the newest book in that series for the summer. I prefer paperbacks, so I’m usually a little behind. This summer’s book should be Dexter by Design, but it looks like the paperback isn't due out until August. I’m looking forward to it regardless. The great thing about these books is that, after the first one (Darkly Dreaming Dexter), the books do not follow the Showtime series. This gives readers like me a paperback season between tv seasons.

I never thought I would fall for the vampire craze, but I love True Blood on HBO. One of my students gave a presentation on the Sookie Stackhouse books, so I think I’ll get the first one and give it a whirl this summer. I also love 24. Whoever came up with the idea for that format – one day, an hour at a time, for a season – was a genius. Another student this semester gave a presentation on Vince Flynn. His books sound a little Jack Bauer-like, so I’m thinking of picking up one of those, too.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I picked up my first Stuart Woods book because I liked the cover and was then hooked. It doesn’t always work, but it’s an interesting experiment. Anyone have suggestions? I need to do some recreational reading before jumping head-first into Microsoft Office 2010, Adobe CS5, and Moodle.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Fiddling While Nashville is Flooding

I lived in the Nashville area for 20 years and feel like it is my second home, so the following may be perceived as a little biased. I am immensely proud of my Missouri roots and am definitely a “Show-Me” girl; but after living nearly half of my life in a city I couldn’t wait to get to, I feel like a true hybrid and will always love Nashville.

That said…outside of the middle Tennessee area, it’s hard to know just how many people are aware of the devastating damage that flooding has caused over the last few days. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it feels a little like the national media outlets have been fiddling while Nashville is flooding. I don’t know if there are just too many catastrophes to cover right now, or if there have been so many in the last few months that people are developing a high tolerance for this level of tragedy, but the lack of coverage is disappointing at the very least.

The Army Corps of Engineers has declared that the amount of rainfall that fell Saturday and Sunday in the Nashville area makes this a 1,000 year event. The flood itself is being referred to as a 500 year flood. Yet this isn’t high profile enough to warrant national coverage for more than five minutes at a time (that is the longest coverage I’ve seen from CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News over the last three days). This isn’t about slamming any particular media outlet, but complete befuddlement as to why people aren’t being made aware of the situation so that we can do what we always do in times like this… and that is help.

Thousands of homes have been lost, thousands of people displaced, damages estimated in the multi-billion dollar range – the personal, commercial, economic, and historical losses are mammoth. And here is why I love Nashville. It is a community in most every sense of the word. There have been no instances of looting (yes, that’s right – NO LOOTING – Google it). People are pulling themselves up by the boot straps and dealing with the task at hand and lending a hand where needed. This is honestly one of the most generous and giving communities I have known. As much as one person may have lost, they will quickly tell you how lucky they are that they didn’t lose as much as someone else. I have watched and read a ton of coverage online and have heard these testaments over and over.

As someone who went to Nashville because of a love of music, the photos of the Opry House standing in water and news of loss in the music community hits very hard. Obviously, people’s lives and safety are most important; but from the standpoint of morale, these music and music history losses too are big. It is similar to hearing people talk about the losses in the French Quarter and Bourbon Street areas after Katrina. Those eerily shadowed photos of several feet of standing water in the Opry House are just heartbreaking. But again, I have little doubt that the music community will pull together and restore all of those landmarks and facilities because it is less about the things and more about the history, the music, and the people.

I’m stepping down from my soapbox now, but here are some links where you can help and where you can see some of the effects of the flooding.

See –
Flood Benefit Concerts

Help –