Archives for August 2013

Smartphones + Smart Students = Apps to an A

smartphone appsLike most students, you’re probably perfectly happy living in the denial that summer break will last forever. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the fall semester is right around the corner — even less than a month away for some students.

But rather than milk your last few weeks of freedom, allot at least part of your free time to prepare for your future academic responsibilities. You don’t want to be the person frantically buying textbooks (next-day shipping fee and all) in the middle of the night before your first day, so get your act together the smarter way by prepping your phone first.

1. gCalcPro Graphing Calculator ($6.99, BlackBerry)

Many of today’s smartphones are more advanced than the first computers, so something as basic as a calculator should be more or less a given. Graphing calculators are expensive, and students don’t exactly have a lot of money to blow. Some professors might be iffy about using your calculator for midterms and other exams. But on average class days and last-minute homework sessions, Crimson Oak Academy claims the gCalcPro Graphing Calculator app has your back for all of your complex, high-level mathematics courses.

2. BrebsFlash Flashcards ($5.99, BlackBerry)

The classic method of flashcard studying is proven effective, but BrebsFlash Flashcards takes it to a whole new level. Use pictures and audio to further solidify your knowledge base, and quickly browse and download decks of flashcards on any subject from and The cards are smartly arranged by recording your performance with each flashcard and showing the difficult ones more often. An extensive in-app flashcard creation and editing tool makes personalization a breeze.

3. Learn English/French/Italian/Spanish ($4.99, BlackBerry)

Language apps by BlackBerry are essential for students enrolled in foreign language courses. Study abroad programs often claim that learning a foreign language is much easier when you’re surrounded by it. But a plane ticket across the world doesn’t come close to the economic efficiency for these smartphones. Customize your sessions by difficulty level (from Newbie to Advanced), and choose from various, highly applicable language themes. A short audio language session can easily be squeezed in during dinner, bus rides home, or even walking to class.

4. Evernote (Free, BlackBerry, iOS, Android)

Evernote is mentioned so often that you’d almost think it’d be considered “overrated” by now. However, there’s a good reason why this organization app tops every best apps list: it simply can’t be beat. Evernote takes all the clutter from your brain and organizes into nice neat folders, so you can focus on getting that term paper in before midnight. Take notes the old fashioned way by simply typing them into a pad, or store photographs and audio recordings for a new study medium.

5. DropBox (Free, BlackBerry, iOS, Android)

Ideal for a student’s salary and schedule, DropBox keeps all of your essential files immediately accessible wherever and whenever. The app enables automatic syncing, 2GB of free space, and easier file sharing through social media. The app ensures optimum security for private information, while also making it easy to authorize specific users to participate in group projects and assignment first drafts.

Guest Post by Evelyn Stark

Evelyn designs SMS interfaces and enjoys writing about mobile technology in her spare time.


Vonage Mobile App Review

Vonage Mobile App

{Disclosure: Vonage provided product for this review and giveaway. My review is an honest opinion based on my own experience and has not been reviewed or edited by Vonage.}

Recently, I uploaded the Vonage Mobile App to my phone and learned a couple of things about the app.

For starters, Vonage Mobile is a free app for iPhone and Android that allows users to make free app-to-app phone and video calls, send texts and share photos and location with other Vonage Mobile users worldwide.

I had heard of Vonage Mobile as a Voice-Over-IP (VOIP) service. Using VOIP means you save money on phone calls to other Vonage users utilizing  the Internet wherever your phone can get WiFi. For paid users, the Extensions App will extend a home subscription plan that allows you to make calls over the Internet from your home phone and then also via WiFi or 3G/4G on your phone.

We use a home plan called Ooma which is also VOIP but so far I have never used a phone app related to it. I like that Vonage Mobile has both home phone and smart phone usage now.

The Vonage Mobile calling screen is simple and easy to use as pictured below. You can see that there are several options across the top of the app. The first option is a list of contacts that will let you see both who you can call and who is already a Vonage user among your contacts. When I installed the app, I had one contact who uses Vonage but I invited several friends and we’ll see who responds!

Vonage Mobile Keyboard


The menu for the Vonage Mobile App is pictured below. In addition to finding contacts, calling them and sending messages and texts, you can make paid calls to non-Vonage users by adding credits below.

vonage app menu

You can also earn free credits (up to $10) by inviting others to join you and then by having others sign up, you have more contacts to call for free.

Vonage free credit


The Vonage Mobile App is great to suppliment cheap plans for teens and tweens that call and text each other. Right now, my girls do not have smartphones but once they get them, I will definitely suggest the Vonage Mobile App.

As of now, I would have to say that this app is limiting since I know few users and my kids don’t have smartphones but they do have digital devices on which this could really come in handy (iPad and tablet). I look forward to seeing my network on this grow.

Enter to win $50 iTunes Gift Card from Vonage Mobile over at my other blog:



Another Benedict Cumberbatch movie? Wow. The #FifthEstate is coming . . .

Fifth EstateMy teenage sci-fi crazed daughter LOVES Benedict Cumberbatch who is now starring in yet another new release, The Fifth Estate. To say she is a fan of the actor is an understatement. Oh, and don’t get me started when she saw that Peter Capaldi, the actor tapped to take over the longstanding popular role of Dr. Who, was also in this new movie.

My daughter’s foray into Cumberbatch fandom all started with “Sherlock,” a modern take on the character “Sherlock Holmes” originally created by Scottish author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; and, we watched all of the episodes and then we waited and we are still waiting. And, then as each new movie featuring the actor comes out we are realizing why we are still waiting for new episodes.

Lately, while we were waiting for more Sherlock, Cumberbatch showed up in The Hobbit:The Unexpected Journey as the voice of the Necromancer and in Star Trek Into Darkness as the big bad villian, Khan. His IMDB page shows many more movies in the works. Maybe it’s because he actually jumped off a tall building in the last Sherlock and he’s waiting for writers to figure out how to bring him back. Maybe . . . .

But, in the meantime, opening October 18th, The Fifth Estate ( a rated “R” movie) is about the following:

Triggering our age of high-stakes secrecy, explosive news leaks and the trafficking of classified information, WikiLeaks forever changed the game. Now, in a dramatic thriller based on real events, THE FIFTH ESTATE reveals the quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power that turned an Internet upstart into the 21st century’s most fiercely debated organization. The story begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations combined. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society—and what are the costs of exposing them?”


Genre:                          Drama/Thriller

Rating:                          TBD

U.S. Release date:        October 18, 2013

Running time:                TBD


Cast:                            Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Peter Capaldi, Carice van Houten, Dan Stevens, with Stanley Tucci and Laura Linney

Director:                       Bill Condon                                                      

Producers:                    Steve Golin, Michael Sugar

Executive Producers:    Richard Sharkey, Paul Green Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King

Screenplay by:              Josh Singer

Based on the books:     “Inside WikiLeaks” by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, and the Guardian book “WikiLeaks” by David Leigh and Luke Harding

{Disclosure: This post does not endorse the movie or its contents since the actual film has not yet been viewed.}


MODERN DADS Tour Comes to Ocean City Boardwalk TODAY/ Camden TOMORROW

Modern DadsModern DadsThe MODERN DADS Tour will be rolling into our area  TODAY AND TOMORROW!

 TODAY, you can catch the tour:

In Ocean City, NJ on the Boardwalk 

The Music Pier @ Boardwalk & Moorlyn Terrace; Friday, August 16th; 3pm-8pm



Camden Riversharks vs. Southern MD Blue Crabs @ Campbell’s Field, Camden, NJ

Saturday, August 17th

3pm-End of Game

Facebook: /ModernDadsAETV

Twitter: /AETV

Instagram: /AETV



MODERN DADS features four stay-at-home dads who may be a little unconventional, but they get the job done. Banding together, their “guys club” is a tribe of suburban, child-rearing dudes who are just trying to do their thing… with a kid (or four) on their hip. This new series will follow their exploits as they navigate their lives; juggling the requirements and social expectations of being both a `modern man’ and ‘modern dad’ while their significant others are off at work.


Don’t forget to tune in to the series premiere of MODERN DADS on August 21st at 10:30/9:30c.




Exclusive Interview with Movie Director Morgan Spurlock of One Direction: This is Us

One Direction MovieOn August 30th, 2013, One Direction (1D) fans can see their favorite boy band members up close and personal on screens across America in One Direction: This is Us

Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis share the inside scoop on their sudden rise to fame, blowing away their own expectations and stretching their dreams beyond the imaginations of their families, friends and themselves.sup

In a private phone interview, Director Morgan Spurlock shared a few of his thoughts with me during his visit to Philadelphia this last week. Spurlock is known for his films Super Size Me and Freakonomics, among others. This movie was the next big step in fulfilling his own dreams as a film director.

Q: Tell me about the movie from your point of view, as the director. What message do you want to see come out of this film?

A: I want people to see these guys for who they really are, to get a sense of their lives and what they go through.

I think a lot of people think that there’s not a lot of work that goes into being in a band like this or that they don’t work hard for what they have. These are five guys who work incredibly hard every day and not only that are five guys very talented guys who were fortunate enough to be put together.

Q: You have done some heavy hitters [thought-provoking films] like Super Size Me and Freakonomics. What about this particular script appealed to you?

A: For me, it was the opportunity to make a film with a studio. We made this movie with Sony Columbia TriStar which was very exciting for me to make the jump into making a studio movie. It was by far the biggest budget on a film that I have ever gotten to work with. I got to work with technology I would never normally get to make a movie with.

Getting to make a movie in 3D is incredible and then to get to have access to these five guys, to a band arguably one of the biggest bands in the world right now who are still kind of exploding in their success and to get to be there and to be the fly on the wall and tell their story is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Q. I see that Simon Cowell is on this project and he’s been going through a lot lately. Do you think he would ask you to make a documentary of his life?

A. {Laughs} I don’t think Simon will ever let anyone make that movie. Whether or not they make it without his consent, that’s something else.

Q. In addition to your documentary work, are you interested in doing fiction?

A. . . . There’s been a bunch of [fiction-based] projects I have been attached over the years — one in particular over at Appian Way [Productions] which is Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company for the last four years and so out of this film what I am hoping for is the chance to do some bigger even more exciting, even more traditional movies.

Q: If there’s one hero you have had in this industry, who would it be?

A. There are so many filmmakers that I admire. If I look at filmmakers who have had such incredible diverse careers, I look at Ang Lee who is just a master. The guy can do anything. The guy can do drama. . . comedy. . . huge-genre special effects laden movies. The guy is a mega talent.

I love folks like Frank Capra. Some of his All-American films were some of the greatest inspirations during my life as a kid. Spielberg, as a child growing up, I don’t think you can be a child growing up in America without having gone to see multiple Steven Spielberg movies.

Q: When did you decide film was a medium you wanted to work with?

A: Ever since I was a kid, I fell in love with movies since I was very young at probably four or five-years-old and all I ever wanted to do was to make movies. All I ever wanted to do was to work in entertainment. It’s all I’ve ever seen in my life as being the end goal.

Q: Do you have any other family members in the entertainment business?

A: No, I don’t have any other family in the industry. I grew up in West Virginia, about as far from the industry as you can grow up but I had two amazing parents who were really supportive of me wanting to be an artist.

Q: Going back to the One Direction movie, how do you look at a story like this and know there’s a story there to tell and determine what the best story to tell is?

A: You always want to have some sort of framework to start from. With any documentary film, once you start shooting, any idea of what you thought the movie was going to be about gets thrown out the window but we start any movie with a basic outline of here’s what, if everybody in the world had unicorns and leprechauns, here’s what the movie would be.

But, for me, this movie mostly boiled down to two things: this is a film that’s about dreams and about family and that’s the heart of the movie. That was the heart of the idea when we first pitched the film and when I first met with the band and when you watch the film today that’s still the essence of the movie. I think the essence of the movie still boils down to dreams and family.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with readers [and movie goers]?

A: One of the things I love about this film, and I know fathers who have taken their daughters and mothers who gone with their daughters, is that it is such a family-friendly film . . .  It’s an incredibly fun film. There’s really great family values that come out these boys. They work hard, they stay humble. There are good messages instilled into them by their own families.

The viewing experience you have of seeing this film with a child is a valuable one.

(Thank you, Morgan Spurlock, for coming to Philadelphia and sharing about the movie and YOUR story!)

Trailer to the movie:



Guest Post: Relationship Lessons from How I Met Your Mother

How I met your motherLife’s little lessons don’t always come in a pretty package, just waiting for you to unwrap them and learn something valuable. Sometimes, they come in the form of a failure, or sometimes (hopefully more often than failure), they come in a funny one disguised as a situation comedy.

“How I Met Your Mother” is entering its ninth and final season. That’s the bad news. The good news is companies like Direct Start TV are offering a free HD DVR upgrade in epic preparation of the finale.

The entire show is based around a father telling his teenage children how he came to meet their mother. Each episode, in essence, is a lesson he learned along the way. Remember your 20-something years and catch up on some of the relationship pearls of wisdom offered in the love trials of HIMYM’s five characters as you wait for it’s final episodes.

“How I Met Your Mother” image by shdowchsr via Flickr.

Resist your Hermit Couple Tendencies

This is what happens when a couple enters that settling down stage. It comes after the “I can’t stop ripping your clothes off” stage, but before the “I am so sick of looking at you” stage. This era might be more appropriately named the “Let’s just stay in and cuddle” period. In season two of HIMYM, Ted and Robin get to this place right around episode 10.

Self-appointed best friend Barney starts to lose it when he notices all his couple friends want to do is snuggle and watch movies while wearing sad-looking PJs. Finding out his “I got a party in my pants” brother is in a serious relationship too just sends Barney over the edge.

Lesson: Don’t get so lost in the cuddle phase that your single friends mistake you for bedridden senior citizens. Everyone needs to “Suit up!” occasionally just to maintain their friendships and sanity.

Lose the Love Tidbits

You know all those little gifts and mementos you shove in a drawer during the big break up scene? Stop it. In episode 16 of season two, the little mementos that mean absolutely nothing to Ted get discovered by now steady girlfriend Robin. Ted is a good sport about it, though. He does what he should have done in the first place — he gives everything away.

Seems like the perfect solution until he finds out Robin has all her past love life tidbits too. Payback is a… you get the idea.

Lesson: This one is twofold:

  • If you are going to be a hoarder, stay single or get a padlock.
  • Check your panty drawer before you begin to torment your boyfriend about his mementos from previous relationships.

Just because Jesus Waited Three Days…

In season four, episode 21, fans learned an important, if not slightly fallible, lesson from Barney. Ted gets the phone number of a hot girl at a bar. His first instinct is to call her right away to make a love connection. Barney intercedes with his infamous rule: One must wait three days before contacting a potential love interest. After all, Jesus waited.

Ted, not one to give in to fake authority, tries to get around the rule by texting (smart move because it didn’t actually violate the bro code). The problem is he ends up texting his boys accidentally instead of the hot girl, making a total fool of himself.

Lesson: Three day rule is meaningless. Ted didn’t wait three days when he met Robin, so what does that tell you? If you like someone, life is just too short to wait around.


New Product Widget By

Shopcade widget just released its new product widget which is fully customizable with dimensions set to auto-adjust to your site.

You can create a list or collection to highlight in the widget or you can set it to automatically pick up products from your content which is especially handy if you auto-add the widget below your past blog posts.


I also like that the pay-out is direct  with no minimum and that the rate for this affiliate program is 75% of Affiliate Commissions or roughly $3.75 on a $50 item.

About Shopcade: Shopcade has some key advantages because readers have easy access to coupons and cash-back deals if they choose to make a purchase. Plus, readers can “want” an item they see on your site and get an automatic notification when it goes on sale. 

In my sidebar you can see a widget I created using my “media” list. (It looks like it only shows up on the home page but I have also embedded it below.) I picked from items on the site already but I could add ones from around the web easily using the “add” function or the bookmarklet they provide for toolbars.

See the widget embedded here in my post:

Try it and see what you think. Right now: Bloggers who install the widget and write a post about their experience on Shopcade can enroll for the chance to be one of four lucky bloggers to win $500 and a full feature on The contest begins Thursday, July 25 and runs through Sept. 30.  You can read the contest rules and enter your blog post here!

(Disclosure: I work on team doing PR for but on my blog all thoughts and opinions are my own.)


International Faith and Family Film Festival

international faith and familyComing soon is the first ever International Faith and Family Film Festival, debuting at Bishop T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest 2013 in Dallas, August 29-31, at the Omni Dallas Hotel.

The film festival will showcase films including Fox Searchlight’s “Black Nativity,” Image Entertainment’s “Winnie Mandela” and Sony Pictures Entertainment’s “Heaven is for Real.” Works from BET and a range of other high quality films from around the world will also be highlighted.

“This is more than just a film festival,” Jakes said. “It is an exciting and emotional re-imagining of all that cinema can and should be for ourselves and future generations. Getting our hearts right and our families back together again is paramount. With this festival we hope to provide more high-quality, family friendly and Bible-centered films over time. This is an essential ingredient for the healing and strengthening of our culture. ”

Tickets for the three-day event are $99 and entitle registrants to enjoy other events in the MegaFest lineup. Discount family and group packages are available.

To register online click here. For a complete list of scheduled events for the film festival visit


Audiobook: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby AudiobookRecently, I listened to The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald via Audible, switching between my new Kindle Fire
and my Android smart phone’s Audible App which used its smart technology to let me know when I had reached a further point on whichever device I had been on and updated the device I was on currently, given that I had access to wifi on the Kindle or had proper reception on my phone at any particular moment. At my mom’s in N.C., I didn’t have access to wifi so that fave feature was not as effective until I could get back online.

As I pursue my own dreams as a novelist and writer, I am trying to go back and read classics like this one which I picked since my daughters were also required to read it and not to mention the recent movie  The Great Gatsby which just came out on Blu-Ray and which I would love to see.

About The Great Gatsby:

The Great Gatsby follows Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin Daisy and her philandering, blue-blooded husband Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.

What  I found interesting about The Great Gatsby was not just the rich insight into the early 1900s but also the delightful and intriguing descriptions used by Fitzgerald to turn an otherwise banal story into living history. In and of itself, the story is a bit of a bore but the way Fitzgerald gets into his character’s heads and shares their motives and decision making process is fascinating.

Because the language of the story really stood out to me, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the story rather then reading it. Having my headphones plugged into my Kindle as I worked or in my phone as I walked was the perfect medium for absorbing this story.

Details about audiobook:

  • Narrated by Jake Gyllenhaal
  • 4 hrs and 49 mins
  • Member Price $5.95 or 1 credit
  • Average Review: 4.2 stars on

1 FREE Audiobook Credit RISK-FREE from