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A Very Shiny App Review

I’ve tried a few new apps and gadgets over the last few weeks. My priority has been finding a replacement for my Google Reader. Google Reader is going away for good in July if you haven’t heard. I-ve had Flipboard on my iPad forever, but I don’t really use it that often. The feeds feel random on there and I’m not really a fan of magazine-like feel. I played with Feedly for a while which was just okay.

A week or so I found this review on Lifehacker for Curata Reader and I’m really liking it so far. Very basic and responsive. You can import your feed from Google Reader if you like, but i decided to start from scratch to get rid of some of the clutter.

It works just as well on iPad or iPhone as it does on a pc.

An appI’ve really been enjoying is Trello. This one I found on The Daily Muse (a must-read blog, BTW). It’s a to-do list app that is kind of like the virtual equivalent of index cards on a bulletin board. You can have multiple boards.

I currently have one for work, one for each of my blogs and one for household stuff. There are to do, doing and done groupings for each board and you can add due dates and categories. I’ve only been playing with it for a few days and i know there is additional capability, but it alreadyseems to be replacing Wunderlist for me.

I’m also recommending the Fitbit Zip. It’s basically an electronic pedometer. Once you set it up, you can clip it onto your waistband and forget it. It syncs wirelessly with iPhone 4s or you can use it with a pc. It gives readouts of steps and miles walked, calories burned and has a clock function, so it can serve as a watch replacement. You can track your weight, activities, water and calorie intake. You can also link to other users, but i haven’t used that option.

Also, if you aren’t using Evernote, you should. Its indispensable and deserves its own post.

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The Trouble With Writing in Coffee Shops

I love to write in coffee shops. It frees me of the usual distractions from things I could be doing instead, television shows that split my attention and bouncing among a thousand browsers.

So I grabbed a big cappuccino:

cup

And a tiny little cinnamon roll:

roll

Sometimes I write rough drafts longhand  to further minimize distractions, especially if I think I may be bouncing from scene to scene, so I closed up to my iPad and got to work.

Things were going along well for a while. I don’t really notice the ambient noise: the clanking of dishes, the hiss of the espresso machine, the low buzz of conversation once I’m in the zone. I had chosen a small table by the window. It was sunny, but lightly snowing at the same time, not terribly uncommon in Buffalo.

At some point I noticed that I was hypnotized by the shadow of my pen as it scratched across the page. Actually, I use mostly Sharpie pens, which don’t really scratch, but “danced” seemed presumptuous and I’ve apparently used up my supply of decent verbs for the day.

I got a little lost in the shadow of the distinctive shape of my Sharpie for a while, but I pressed on.

Sometimes I hear bits of conversations, like the time I sat next to a young couple who were clearly on a first date, asking each other a series of awkward “get to know you” questions. They seemed to be doing okay, though, their awkwardness a commonality rather than an obstacle.

Today I saw a woman pull up alone and leave with a small child. Kidnapping? The neutral ground shared custody exchange of a bad divorce? Babysitting?

A coffee shop can be a source of either distraction or material depending on how you look at it.

The other issue is that sometimes when I am concentrating I clutch at my hair. I don’t normally realize I’m doing it at the time, but I had to walk the length of the coffee shop to leave and I really hope I didn’t look too much  like a mad scientist.

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Spenser The Dog Looks At Me When I Leave For Work In The Morning

spenserwating

Like a small child who knows he will be left alone all day with nothing but some chew toys and a bowl of kibble.

Not that I ever did that with a small child.

And the statute of limitations is long past anyway.

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There Are Things in the Back of My Fridge Older Than This Fitness Blogger

There Are Things in the Back of My Fridge Older Than This Fitness Blogger.

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Wouldn’t You Like to Be a Checker, Too?

I’m a checker.

There. I’ve said it.

When I get on a plane, I check all the exits, count the seats to each and  make sure I know how to operate my mask and floatation devices. (You’re welcome, Flight Attendants. It’s me, the one who was paying attention.)

When I go to the movies, a show or concert, I note the exits.

I go to tons of general admission concerts and I am always near the front, but I would wager that there are never more than maybe 12 people between me an the exits.

I know where the fire extinguishers and defibrillators are every place I frequent. You can quiz me.

This may all sound a bit neurotic, admittedly, but it’s not borne out of fear or anxiety. I don’t worry about it or even think about it once I have made my visual rounds.

I enter, look around, file away my mental notes and enjoy the evening.

Any other checkers out there?

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The League of Extraordinary Gentlepersons

The League of Extraordinary Gentlepersons.

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The Final Countdown

The Final Countdown.

An entry from one of my other blogs