Category: Uncategorized

Which education apps should I use?

There are tens of thousands of education apps currently available for your iOS and Android devices. But which one is the right one to try out? In an effort to help boil down the best from the rest, this visual guide should help you out. There are just so many apps available in the Apple App Store that you can get completely flummoxed by just simply launching iTunes. As of August of last year, there where thousands of iPad iPhone apps that dealt with topics like Math, Science, Spanish, History, Geography, French, and Art.Which education apps should I use? There were more than 50,000 total iPhone education apps. That’s crazy. Even crazier is the fact that there are a lot more than that right now with hundreds being added every month. Most of those apps are free and nearly as many are paid apps. To give you a frame of reference, this is more than a year ago where there were about 650,000 apps in the App Store. The most popular education apps included a free graphics calculator, the American Museum of Natural History app, a free Spanish tutor, a NASA app, and an IQ test.

Which education apps should I use?

Also worth pointing out is the fact that some of the top apps were blackboard mobile, and the rate my professors’ app, as well as the TED app. These apps are supplementary to larger websites and services, showing the significance of each app. Which apps should you try? I’d recommend checking out which categories are most popular and then looking into those. For example, if you’re looking for an engaging app, try the ‘best of’ list on iTunes and then drill down into your particular category. Start with TED Talks but then actually watch a few talks. Then download some apps related to the talk that you just watched. You might just find yourself liking a new topic that you never previously thought would interest you!

Judge upholds 20-yr Grand Canyon mining ban

U.S. District Judge David Campbell has upheld the U.S. Department of Interior’s 20 year-ban on exploration and development of uranium mining claims on 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon National Park.

The withdrawn land includes a north parcel of 550,000 acres, an east parcel of 135,000 acres, and a south parcel of 322,000 acres. Only the mining of a few existing claims will be permitted.

Plaintiffs in the case included the National Mining Association and the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Arizona-Utah Local Economic Coalition, Quaterra Resources, and an individual, Gregory Yount, with interests in uranium mining. Motions for summary judgment were filed by Plaintiffs American Exploration & Mining Association and Yount.

Defendants included the U.S. government, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Grand Canyon Trust, Havasupai Tribe, National Parks Conservation Association and the Sierra Club.

On January 9, 2012, then-Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, and the U.S. Department of Interior issued a record of decision (ROD), which withdrew 1,006,545 acres from mining pursuant to the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA).

The Record of Decision (ROD) justified the withdrawal “on the basis of (1) threats and uncertainty regarding the effect of uranium mining on water resources, (2) impact of uranium mining on cultural and tribal resources, (3) the need for more study of the impact of uranium mining on other resources including wildlife, and (4) the existence of pre-approved mines and valid existing rights in the withdrawn area that will not be affect by the withdrawal,” said the court in a decision issued Tuesday.

In his decision, Judge Campbell noted, “Ultimately the question in this case is whether DOI, when faced with uncertainty due to a lack of definitive information, and a low risk of significant environmental harm, can proceed cautiously by withdrawing land for a period of time under the FLPMA.

“The Court can find no legal principle that prevents DOI from acting in the face of uncertainty. Nor can the Court conclude that the Secretary abused his discretion or acted arbitrarily, capriciously, or in violation of law when he chose to err on the side of caution in protecting a national treasure—Grand Canyon National Park.

“IT IS ORDERED that Defendants’ motions for summary judgment … are granted. Plaintiffs’ motions for summary judgment are denied,” Campbell ruled.

The plaintiffs have 60 days to appeal Judge Campbell’s decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Your Landline Phone is going away and there’s Nothing You Can Do about It

Sensational headline aside, it’s true! First they replaced the operator with direct dialing. Then they tossed out rotary phones for touch-tone phones. And now, plain old telephone service (POTS) may be going away for good. For some, it’s progress. For others, it’s frightening.

Like dual-cassette stereos and VCRs, many households (29% and growing, according to one survey) are finding they can do without landline phone service. And the ramifications extend beyond your front door. Landline Phone

First, we need to look at why POTS is disappearing, and the answer goes deeper than just “everyone has a cell phone.”

Reason 1: Deteriorating infrastructure. Yes, technological advancements have presented a major challenge to POTS supremacy, but the primary force undermining POTS are the big phone companies themselves. The landline phone infrastructure in the U.S. is expansive, and when something as expansive as that infrastructure begins to deteriorate, it costs a lot of money to fix it.

Reason 2: Technology. As stated above, advancements in technology are challenging POTS’ place in the home, and it’s not just all about cell phones. Email, social media, instant messaging, video chats and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are providing people with effective and often more convenient alternatives. Basically, “better, faster, cheaper” is here.

Reason 3: Labor shortage. This ties directly back to Reason 1. You need two things to improve infrastructure: money and people. This 2013 NPR article put it best:

“The switches — the actual infrastructure — are reaching end of life…And, ironically, so too are the personnel, the engineers who received training to maintain those expensive switches.”

 Landline Phone

Basically, there are a lot of things that need fixed and not enough people who know how to fix them.

Is there a business impact?
You bet. While this shift will hit rural residents the hardest due to lack of broadband access, small businesses will also have to adapt. SMBs that could get away with only operating a handful of landlines will soon find it more cost-effective to implement SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) solutions instead. Businesses with work-from-home and other remote employees have already begun to implement more efficient digital and hosted solutions as well to keep out-of-office workers in the same network or system.

While many businesses have already adopted newer technology, there are always holdouts, and it will be interesting to see which ones drag their feet (and why). Change is coming. The question we all have to answer is “how quickly will we adapt?”

Is There Any Free Tent Camping on Texas Beaches?

Technically, no, there is no free camping on Texas beaches. However, those who are seeking to get back to nature and do it on the slimmest of budgets are in luck. Texas’s great beaches of Padre Island beckon with both U.S. National Parks and Texas State Parks offering free camping, fishing, swimming and other activities. There are small entrance fees, but as little as $4 buys you two weeks of access to some of the nation’s best beaches.

Camping on Texas Beaches Padre Island National Seashore Camping

The Padre Island National Seashore offers a number of camping options. Again, the camping is “free” but the entrance fee of $8 for up to 14 days applies.

The park contains five different “official” camping sites. These include Malaquite Campground, Bird Island Basin, North beach, South Beach and Yarborough Pass.

The Cheapest Deals on Texas Beaches

Padre Island National Seashore offers the least expensive camping in South Beach and Yarborough Beach. The sites are unimproved, and you simply pitch a tent among the dunes. There is a change to enter the U.S. Park, but after the $8 fee ($4 for Seniors or Golden Pass Holders) the sites here are free.

If you are not used to primitive camping, be prepared. A fabulous view of sand and stars (sometimes, with no one for miles) awaits. However, the hike to the water reserves near the site can become long, drawn-out affairs.

Camping on Texas Beaches

State Park Options

Mustang Island and Goose Island State Parks offer camping with some better comforts, such as electricity and water, but all State Parks charge the $8 fee. However, they also offer long stretches of sand and surf with very few neighbors.

In Texas State Parks, anglers will find a bargain rate–free. In an ongoing effort to increase public interest in fishing, no fishing permits are required for the island parks.

California Campgrounds Review

California’s gorgeous environments, not to mention warm, sunny weather, make camping a great activity. California campgrounds offer a variety of services and accommodations. True outdoor enthusiasts will find ample secluded places to pitch their tents, while city folk can hook their RVs into generators and enjoy a dip in the Jacuzzi.

California Campgrounds Review Wows and Woes

It’s hard to beat California’s pristine scenery and diverse landscape. Mountain enthusiasts can enjoy Big Bear or the Sierra Nevada; beach bums will love Gaviota State Park and Emma Wood State Beach; forest travelers will appreciate Sequoia National Forest and Angeles National Forest; and desert dwellers can bask in the sun at Calico Ghost Town and Mojave National Preserve. Though there are ample off-the-beaten trail campsites, many hardcore campers might find it hard to escape tourists and day travelers. Isolation, peace and quiet can be hard to come by, especially when the weather is nice.

Insider Tips

Call ahead before traveling to any campsite. The rules vary greatly based on who owns and runs the sites. There are only a few beaches where overnight camping is allowed, campfires are strictly monitored, access to the sites can be limited at night and reservation policies vary greatly, ranging from first come first serve to a two-month waiting list.

California Campgrounds Review

Author’s Most Memorable Moment

My best experience was at McGrath State Beach in Ventura County. I had been disappointed that I couldn’t camp on the beach at Emma Wood State Beach because it was first come, first served, and the whole facility was full by 9 a.m. But I found McGrath’s sites large and spread out. The best part was taking a short walk to the ocean and realizing we were practically camping on the beach.

Bottom Line

Camping is a wonderful activity in California, just prepare ahead of time for the numerous rules governing these sites and the hordes of people who want to enjoy them.


On Tuesday night, Oakland natives Mara Hruby and Chris Turner blessed their native soil with an inspiring performance worthy of the historic Yoshis venue. Mara’s brand of elegant jazz dove to new emotional depths and soared to new vocal heights, while Chris’s experimental soul and immense range treated the audience to a funky falsetto expedition. He looked quite ready for a physical expedition as well, as he was decked out in boots, cargo pants, a lumberjack plaid vest and wide brimmed hat. Chris and Mara are both known for their distinct fashion sensibilities – each very fitting of their music – but on this particular evening their voices took center stage.MARA HRUBY & CHRIS TURNER LIVE AT YOSHIS The show led off with Chris harmonizing with Mara on her slow burning cover of D’Angelo’s “Send It On” off her From Her Eyes EP. Chris and Mara ping-ponged back and forth for the duration of their shared set, each offering pitch perfect back up to the other. Mara’s cover of Sade’s “Is It A Crime” wowed the audience thanks to the full bodied tenacity of her typically ethereal voice. Chris shortly followed that performance up with a stank-face and head nodding industrial soul rendition of “Jane & Eve,” a song about his feelings for two different lovers – one being a woman and the other a smokable plant. It was one of those moments when you realize how much better live music is when you are witnessing performers who can really blow and are backed by talented musicians who can help take the music in unique directions.

Mara then slowed things down with a couple melancholy cuts from her recent jazz standard project of Julie London covers. Chris segued with a delicate piano arrangement of “My Foolish Heart” before blowing it out with hard drums, percussive bass and scrambling piano accompaniment. Later he would employ a call and response with the crowd on “For You” and then take the crowd to church with an emotional plea to God, “Heal Me,” that he wrote in a European restroom while on tour with Esperanza Spalding. The audience soaked it up and erupted in a standing ovation when Chris’s desperate pleading came to an end. All these performances highlighted Chris’s ability to travel with songs, explore new nooks and crannies, and expose his flaws and lows in a raw and beautiful way. By comparison, Mara is the cooler and more collected one, but she wrestles with her emotions too, especially on her cathartic new EP Archaic Rapture.


Their set had to be cut short due to a fast approaching ten o’clock show, but not before Chris launched into a truncated version of his signature song, “Liquid Love.” It seemed only right to end such a beautiful night on a high note. Fans of their work and those with virgin ears all left Yoshis equally amazed by their muscianship. Hopefully they can take this show on the road and spread love the Oakland way.

In the meantime, check out the latest work from Chris and Mara below. Mara and Van Hunt are featured on a dope new track from The Decoders entitled “Respect,” while Chris’s vocals grace “If I Ever Lose This Love,” a Harvey Mason Sr. composition with strong Grammy buzz. Enjoy!


In the heart of Europe, immediate neighbor of Austria, is a country whose tourism deserves more attention. Slovakia has many well-preserved medieval castles, landscapes, people who care about traditions and surprising cuisine. Suppose your business visit to Vienna, Prague and Budapest ended early. You have a few days to visit the surroundings. Take a flight to Slovakia because you will have many places to visit.SLOVAKIA

You will have the surprise to find a fresh area, untouched by civilization, consumerism and artificiality of fast food restaurants, a country where forests still have apparent inaccessibility, where traditions are amazingly fresh and beautiful. This is Slovakia! Part of the former Communist bloc, Slovakia is independent scarcely since 1993 and people still have the freshness of just being awakened after a long sleep of history. The castles in Slovakia are very well preserved and provide the visitors some episodes in the history of this country, which hasn’t escaped the inevitable storm.


The residents of this nation placed in the middle of Europe, keep sacredly the local customs and behaviors that come from far away, from pagan times, even though Slovakia was across the time the central part of the empires with a civilizing role. The Slovaks have a lot of holidays with pagan resonance, although most of them are Catholics.


Bratislava Castle, nicknamed “turned table” because of its shape, is in the same time the National Museum with amazing exhibits of musical instruments, old furniture and a collection of exhibits reunited under the name of “jewels of ancient Slovaks”. Banska Stiavnica would be the second city worthy of an extended visit if you’re already familiar with the history of Slovakia, because there you will find castles, old churches and schools. Do not expect to find too many nightclubs or other signs of modern life because you will be disappointed.

What Adobe is Doing to Stay Relevant on the Web

It’s no secret that Flash as we know it is dying off. For quite a while, Adobe was reluctant to give in on the technology that represents such a large part of their company, but they finally switched from defensive mode to “hey, how can we adapt as a company?” mode.

At a recent PANMA event in Philly focusing on HTML5 & Adobe, Terry Ryan from Adobe gave a stellar presentation on a few things the company is doing to stay relevant in the rapidly changing web. It’s no secret that Flash as we know it is dying off. A few months ago, Apple officially said they will not support it on iOS devices, and whatever you may think about that, the general consensus is that Flash will not be a player for much longer.Adobe

Terry included four main topics in his presentation:

  1. TypeKit
  2. PhoneGap
  3. Adobe Edge
  4. CSS Shaders

I won’t get much into TypeKit because that technology has been around for quite a while. It’s great at allowing you to bring non-traditional web fonts on your site, and developers should really consider using it or one of its many alternatives.


PhoneGap provides an easy way for web developers to create native apps without getting too involved in the specifics for each platform. As many know, there are really two types of “apps” that can be created. Web apps are mobile-optimized websites that are limited in their functionality on a device but often mimic the appearance and function of a native app. Native apps integrate directly with a mobile platform and require a developer program in the native language of the platform (like Objective-C for iOS), providing complete access to the phones native features.PhoneGap

What PhoneGap aims to do is make it as easy as possible to create native apps, while programming them as if they aren’t. The service provides a great framework for writing apps in HTML5 & JavaScript (great for web developers), and then easily compiles your code into a native app. You choose what platforms you want to develop on, download some basic “shell” code, open up the IDE for the platform, and code away in what you know best: HTML and JavaScript. The code becomes portable and can be tranferred to the native “shell” code for each platform you want an app for. The big benfit of using PhoneGap is that you get access to all the features that only native apps get, like the Camera, GPS, accelerometer, and more. This is possible because PhoneGap handles communicating with the native device for you and exposes the functionality through their JavaScript API. It also works well with jQuery Mobile & Sencha Touch (which you’ll likely want for the UI at the very least) and has a great plugins system.

Since acquiring PhoneGap’s parent company, Adobe is keeping the popular software open source, and have decided to try and monetize the software by offering a paid service to compliment it. This service, named “PhoneGap Build,” automatically does all that cross-compiling on different platforms for you in the cloud. Terry did a quick demo of this… basically you can maintain all of your code in GitHub, push changes, and PhoneGap Build will pick up those changes and automatically work behind the scenes to output new app files for each of the platforms. (I believe the service is actually free if your GitHub project is open source.)

This software is really picking up speed and now has full support from Adobe. The developer community seems to be fairly strong, and the documentation is easy to understand and utilize. It’s certainly work a look.


Adobe Edge

Adobe Edge seems to be Adobe’s answer to getting Flash-style animations in the browser… without Flash. There are a lot of things can be done with Flash that are very difficult or tedious to do using web technologies. A pro Flash developer can turn around advanced animations relatively quickly, whereas it would take ages to do the same animation using purely JavaScript and CSS by hand. Sencha has had software similar to Edge for a bit now (Sencha Animator), and now Adobe is stepping in with their own version.

Edge basically takes the best of what Flash is, drops what isn’t great, and makes it work around HTML5 instead of Flash. That means you can do tweens, animations, key frames, etc… but instead of outputting to a SWF, you get HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. The software isn’t *quite* there yet, but at least Adobe is headed in the right direction. Edge lets you do some really great things, and opens the door for web developers to get into animation, without having to learn a dying technology. While the 1.0 release isn’t yet released, developers can toy around with the software for free at the moment.

CSS Shaders

Even with Edge, there is still a ton of stuff that can be done in Flash that cannot be done in a browser without plugins. Adobe aims to change that by pushing some of their IP into the browsers. CSS Shaders allow developers to achieve some really great visual effects in the browser and really push the limits of browsers. Terry showed us some live demos using Chromium (the “hot off the press” open source version of Chrome) and everyone in the lecture hall was pretty blown away. Check out this page for some of the demos he showed off. Don’t get too excited, as these are still in development and haven’t been adopted yet, but it’s a neat look at the future potential of browsers.

Because the web is rapidly evolving, with new technologies emerging constantly, it is crucial that developers stay on top of leading-edge changes. Adobe has really decided to embrace where the web is going and they are doing it right. PhoneGap makes creating native apps easier than ever, Edge provides an outlet to Flash professionals to get into a new emerging technology, and shaders allow for great visual effects right in the browser without a third party plugin like Flash. Time will tell to see how Adobe’s new investments and projects will pay off, but they seem to be headed in the right direction.

The Struggle To Engage Across Multiple Channels Rages On

The Struggle To Engage Across Multiple Channels Rages OnCall in multi-channel marketing. Call it an integrated marketing strategy. Whatever name you apply to it, brands and companies are still struggling to give consumers what they want… a consistent and seamless message across all marketing channels.

A recent study conducted by Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, revealed that companies, at least in the US, need to step up their game when it comes to multi-channel marketing.

Mim Burt, research director at Gartner…

“Executing on cross-channel consistency will prove challenging, as retailers continue to grapple with siloed business process and a plethora of disparate applications. Most challenging are the product-centric organizational structures that are no longer suitable for today’s customer-centric approach, which should take full account of customers shopping across current and emerging touchpoints.”

Before I get to more from the study, I want you to pay close to attention to one word that Ms. Burt used and see if you can spot that same word in the comments form Mark Fodor, the CEO of multi-channel commerce solution provider CrossView who’s own study revealed similar results:

“The opportunity for merchants to become more cross-channel is there, but they need to learn how to communicate with their customers across channels and not fall into silos.”

While not used in the same tense, the word is “silo.” Both Ms. Burt and Mr. Fodor make reference to the fact that silos are a very dangerous thing for businesses. For it is these same silos that prevent departments within a given organization from engaging with one another. Think about it, how many B2B or B2C folks or brand managers or product managers and on down the line are hamstrung by “silo-ed” departments, with one department not knowing what the other is doing yet each trying to increase sales and engage with the same customer? [[Click here to learn how we use what we call Synegration™ to break down those same silos]]

The Struggle To Engage Across Multiple Channels Rages OnI shared Mr. Fodor’s comments and findings from an aptly titled post Marketers Still Not Integrating Their Marketing Strategy. That was one post of many I’ve written on creating an integrated marketing strategy and the need to do so, especially when you consider it is precisely what consumers want.

From another aptly titled post, Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It which highlighted the 4th annual Consumer Insights Survey from m Buys:

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Want

  • 85% want an integrated shopping experience
  • 72% want an integrated marketing approach

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Currently Get

  • 50% get an integrated shopping experience
  • 39% get an integrated marketing approach

Those in marketing retail and retailers alike, the people are speaking loud and clear. They want to see and experience the same thing be it on your site, your store, your mobile site and they want to see and experience the same message across all marketing collateral – AKA they want a branded experience across ALL channels!

The Struggle To Engage Across Multiple Channels Rages OnThe Struggle Rages On…
The Gartner study is just the latest to show the disconnect; the problem so many brand managers and retailers and digital marketers are having in creating a true integrated marketing approach, especially in the retail world. And the root cause is the dreaded “s” word… Silo. “Channels have grown as largely separate entities, and business metrics in retail remain overwhelmingly product and channel-focused. Retailers need to change internal organizational alignments to execute a consistent cross-channel shopping experience.”

This line from the findings really should drive home the point to all brand managers and product managers, regardless of industry: “Requirements of shoppers across channels and the customer shopping process should be their guiding principles, rather than focusing on the ROI of multi-channel initiatives.”

As the survey from mBuys (and surely there are others) clearly demonstrates, the requirements of shoppers, consumers comes in the form of integration… as in they want an integrated message across all mediums. They want to be engaged across all channels with the same message.

So go forth and engage across all mediums with the same, seamless message… you’ll be glad you did.

What are your thoughts on all this?

Are you a brand manager or product manager that wants to create an integrated marketing strategy but are tied down due to the silos mentioned above?

What are some ways to break down those walls, to eliminate those silos?

5 Ways To Stress Free Mornings

Are you one of those families where mornings are crazy…..stressful…..frustrating?

No matter how much you prepare the night before every morning is still full of chaos and most days you end up running late?

I know exactly how you feel….it used to be me.

5 Ways To Stress Free Mornings

I had my boys clothes laid out…..lunch was waiting in the fridge….backpacks were packed by the door….alarm clocks were on few minutes earlier then needed….

….still chaos….running late…boys fighting….forgetting their morning chores…blaming each other….

….till I decided enough was enough and some changes had to be made….

After reading few articles I came up with a plan and ways to STRESS FREE MORNINGS.

5 Ways To Stress Free Mornings

#1 Allow Children To Wake Up To Mood-Lifting Scent

Just like the smell of fresh brewed coffee gets most of us out of bed the aroma of citrus scent get our children moving with a little burst of energy.

You can infuse the air in your children bedrooms before their alarm goes off few ways:

  • use citrus scent room spray
  • dab little bit of citrus essential oil on the bulb of their bedside lamp and turn it on
  • use citrus scent reed diffuser (turn the reeds around) for a quick shot of citrus burst

#2 Play Upbeat Music To Keep Them Moving

  • for older kids you can download morning routine upbeat playlist into their iPods
  • for younger kids you can order upbeat custom CD with that starts with Good Morning song that includes their name
  • tune your house radio, stereo or satellite TV to upbeat music station

5 Ways To Stress Free Mornings

#3 Set The Breakfast Table With Cheerful Colors

The yellow, blue and white color combination is considered brain-boosting color combo that enhances energy and concentration, promotes mental clarity and improves focus.

#4 Detailed Morning Schedule

It is very helpful especially for younger children and teenagers to have Detailed Morning Schedule visible somewhere in their bedroom. They can move from task to task without worrying about missing something or forgetting something. We shouldn’t assume that our children will do everything that they are suppose to every single morning….we all forget so why not to help them out to keep them on track and out of trouble.

5 Ways To Stress Free Mornings

#5 No TV , Computer or Personal Electronics Before School

All of these electronics are stimulants that steal children concentration away from morning tasks and in many cases cause hyperactivity which leads to misbehavior, forgetting important things and morning arguments.

These 4 little changes turned our mornings from chaos and stress into calm….relaxed mornings that we all enjoy.

Do you have other ways or tips that help your family keep their mornings stress free?