Archive for category Tech

Learn To Code In Minutes At Codecademy

If you are looking to learn how to code, there are plenty of classes, books and tutorials out there but none are too exciting.  Working for a start-up in a semi technical role, I have had to learn the basics of JS and HTML but I haven’t had the time to really devote myself to taking a course or reading a book to learn more.  A couple days ago I read about Codecademy.com on TechCrunch and after spending only a few minutes on the site, i’m already hooked.  Right now the only “courses” offered are in Java Script but the courses that are offered are interactive, fun and straightforward.  They also add a gaming feature to it so you can earn points and trophies as you learn and pass lessons.  Plus as you move through lessons, you can track and share your progress which is shown as a percentage in your profile.  I am definitely going to keep at it and hopefully they expand to other languages like PHP and Python in the future.

Codecademy

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Harbor Master: Take The Helm In This Super Addicting iPhone/iPad Game

I don’t usually download games for my iPhone, but after hearing about Harbor Master from a friend, I decided to to give it a whirl.  The concept is super simple but it sucks you right in and keeps you entertained as you try to navigate ships into and out of a Harbor.  The longer the game goes, the more ships it sends into the Harbor at once.  Keep unloading the boats and sending them back out of the Harbor until things get too crazy and the boats crash.  The free version comes with just one board and although you can be plenty entertained with this one Harbor, chances are you will want to test the other 5 out in the paid version.  Plus, if you spring for the paid version, you get to battle pirates as well.  So put on your captains hat and grab the wheel to see if you’ve got what it takes to become Harbor Master!

Harbor Master: Imangi Studios

Get Harbor Master on iTunes

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Macbook Bro: Give your Mac Some Personality

Want to set your Macbook apart from all those other silver faceless Macs at your local coffee shop?  Slap a mustache on it or even a new hairdo courtesy of the guys at Stick With Me, Baby!  Yup, not only can you now put a mustache on your car courtesy of Carstache, you can now pimp your Mac out with some facial hair of  it’s own.  Choose from a variety of clever styles including “the creepy uncle” all for around $10 at Stick with me,baby!

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Square: Mobile Payments Made Easy

Last December, word hit the street about Jack Dorsey’s latest startup Square, which drew a lot of press and excitement.  Yesterday the public version of the product was finally made available.  Square is a smart new way for people to accept credit card payments on a mobile device such as an iPhone.  Once you sign up for a Square account you receive a free card reader that plugs into your headphone jack.  Once you pop on the Square, you can slide a credit card, have the purchaser sign with their finger on the screen, create a secure transaction and email or text a receipt in just a matter of seconds.

I made a transaction through a company that was using a beta version of Square the other week and I was very impressed.  It was easy to use, fast to process and small.  From a local kid running a lemonade stand to a larger company selling products at a sample sale, to your neighbor putting on a yard sale, Square is sure to be used and appreciated by all sorts of people.  Before launch, Square was valued at $40 million so it will be fun to watch its growth and see just how many people are able to benefit from taking mobile payments on their phone.  Although there are other mobile card readers out there, no other reader requires no costs upfront or contract, you simply pay around 3% per transaction when you do use it.

To learn more or sign up for a free account, head to https://squareup.com…….and sorry for now, iPhone, iPad, iTouch and Android Devices only

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GateGuru Enhances Your Airport Experience

Screen shot 2009-12-28 at 10.05.02 PMI probably should have reviewed this iphone app about a week ago when everyone was packing their bags and heading to the airport to see family and friends for the holidays, but I guess I was a little busy doing just that.  With plenty of people heading out of town for new years this week, I thought it was still an appropriate time to review a new iphone app designed to make your airport experience a little bit more enjoyable.  GateGuru was designed as an easy to use iphone app that allows you to locate the best food, shopping, and services in whatever airport you may be in.  I usually never think to much about airport food or what services are available in an airport so I end up just settling for the first thing I see.  GateGuru, however, let’s you read reviews and locate the best options, allowing you to search by airport and terminal.  Need to find an ATM before heading out to grab a taxi at LGA, GateGuru will help you out.  Although most dining options in airports are usually pretty sub-par, the review function allows you to search for the best of what’s out there.  Pick up the GateGuru Lite app for free or spring for the enhanced version at just $1.99.  If you are a frequent flier this simple but helpful app is sure to make your airport time a little less stressful and a little bit more productive.

Check out their website for more info: http://gateguruapp.com/

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Mint.com – Take Control Of Your Finances

mint_whiteWhether you are hopeless with your finances or you just want to keep your life more organized, then you should check out this very helpful site. Mint.com is a free personal finance site that allows you to track your spending and investments, making it easy to set goals and budgets.

Once you sign up for free, you enter in all your financial information including bank info, credit card info, mortgages, investments, loans and property. Although it is always scary giving up such personal information, the site is secure. Once it loads all of your financial info, it gives you your net worth and shows you your financial overview including where you spend your money. If you have multiple credit cards or bank accounts it is helpful to see all your financials together. The budget category is helpful as it shows how much money you spend on different things like gas or food with convenient charts and graphs.  You can set different amounts for each budget category so that you can follow whether you stay within your budgets or not.

Along with providing the free software for you to analyze and look at all your financial data, Mint.com also offers info and tips on how you can save money and get better rates according to your financials.  You can even apply for new credit cards or bank accounts online through the site.

Whether you are looking to get out of debt or simply wish to have a better look at how all your finances look together, sign up for a free account at Mint.com and get a better grasp on your finances.

For a visual look, check out this video from CEO Aaron Patzer.  Oh and if you haven’t read about it yet, the site was recently bought for $170 Million by Intuit, so you know they are doing something right over there!

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Groupon.com: Awesome Daily Deals In Your City

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Who doesn’t like coupons? With these slim economic times, people are trimming their budgets and looking for new ways to save. I recently saw a show on TV that highlighted a lady who doesn’t buy anything without a coupon. She would literally buy $100 worth of food at the supermarket and walk away paying only $20 after all her coupons were counted. This is an extreme example but it got me thinking about coupons.

Groupon.com is a relatively new site (founded November of 2008 in Chicago) which displays 1 coupon per day, per city. Its like Steepandcheap.com or woot.com, but for local deals in your city. The deals are only in 17 cities for now, but if you live in one of these cities it is definitely worth checking out.

It is not like a traditional coupon which you can print or cut out and use to get a discount. It is a structure that encourages group participation in order to buy in on the deal. From their website, here is the basic explanation as to how it works:

  1. Each day we feature something cool to do at an unbeatable price.
  2. You only get it if enough people join that day… so invite your friends!
  3. Check back the next day for another awesome Groupon!

The concept is great, allowing businesses to promote specials and attract new customers, while providing locals with killer deals. Because the deals are so good and varied, it keeps people coming back day after day. You can also receive email alerts every day so you don’t miss out on a deal.

Check it out at: http://www.groupon.com/

Here is a screen-shot of a restaurant example from the New York City edition today:

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Another screen-shot shows a really good fitness deal today in Chicago…..

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Following are the cities featured on Groupon:

Atlanta – Austin – Boston – Chicago – Dallas – Denver – Houston – Los Angeles – Miami – New York – Philadelphia – Phoenix – San Diego – San Francisco – Seattle – Tampa – Washington D.C.

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Hotpads.com – A Visual Approach to Online Apartment Hunting

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We’ve all struggled with finding an apartment or house rental at some point. My first apartment hunt in New York City was brutal. Every time I would find a seemingly great place on Craigslist, I would go to look at it in person, only to find out that it was actually a closet in a horrible location. Although apartment hunting is still tough, there are new services and sites that aim at lessening the pain of your search.

As I am planning my next move, I have been starting to scour craigslist to search for apartments. Craigslist is great but once you click on an ad, you usually have to open up google maps in another window to figure out where the apartment is located. Hotpads.com, makes life a little easier. Hotpads.com lets you search for apartments by area, showing you available places on the map. Simply scroll over the available apartment, and a bubble pops up giving you information about price, # of bedrooms etc… You can then click on the bubble to get more details and pictures as well as how to contact the landlord. This visual approach to online apartment hunting takes the guesswork out of craigslist ads and allows you to pinpoint very specific neighborhoods or blocks that you want to look at. Not only is this a site for rentals, you can search “for sale” listings on the site as well. The website is clean and easy to use and the maps are straightforward and crisp.

To check it out for yourselves, go to http://www.hotpads.com

Thanks to Will for the tip!

A Screenshot of a my 3 Bedroom Apt Search in San Francisco

A Screenshot of a my 3 Bedroom Apt Search in San Francisco

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Gearburger.com – Get Custom Alerts When Gear Goes On Sale

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If you are a gear nerd like I am, then you probably already know about discount sites like steepandcheap.com. These sites sell overstock items from larger parent companies like Backcountry.com in this case, offering buyers one item at a time in limited quantities. This format results in a lot of impulse buying. The discounts are often so high that you end up buying gear that you don’t need, but seems too good to pass up. Since the launch of Steepandcheap.com, many other sites have popped up that are more specialized like chainlove.com, just for bike deals. Most of these sites still call Backcountry.com their owner, but other immitators have popped up along the way as well.

Although I love these types of sites, I don’t have the time to constantly check them all for deals that I may be interested in. Most offer email alerts or a desktop widget to alert you when each new deal is up, but for the most part, I am never interested in the products they have on special. For me i’m interested in certain ski gear and outerwear from companies like Volkl, Patagonia and Arc’Teryx, but every time I check out steepandcheap.com or tramdock.com, products like womens tank tops or beer bottle opening flip flops are featured. I seem to always miss the deals that I would have actually acted on and I don’t want to receive 20 emails a day alerting me about these unappealing deals.

To solve this gear delemma, two guys out of San Francisco have come up with a new website to make sure you don’t miss the good deals. Gearburger.com is a simple and easy to use website that alerts you when the gear you want goes on sale. The sign-up process is super simple, just requiring an email and a timeframe for when you want to receive the alerts. Then you can choose which products or companies you wish to be alerted about and boom you are done. Gear Burger will then send you emails with links to deals based on your custom selections of companies and products you are interested in. Gear Burger will filter out the bad and irrelevant deals and alert you about the deals relevant to your tastes and interests. You also can’t help but love their mascot…..what is that thing? Looks like a fat cow, mixed with a horse.

Not 15 minutes after I signed up for alerts from 10 selected companies, did I get my first email alert. It informed me that some Rossignol Axial2 150 ski bindings were on sale at Tramdock.com for $179 or 41% off. This is exactly the alert a gear whore like me needs to know about. I had checked off Rossignol on my list of companies to alert me about, and Gearburger.com delivered with a great deal on some burly bindings.

This straight forward and super helpful site is a must for gear nerds and gear whores across the outdoor universe. Don’t miss out on another deal, sign up free for your customized alerts at Gearburger.com.

As a nice bonus the guys over at Gear Burger will send you some free stickers if you shoot them an email at info@gearburger.com – tell them Mike sent ya!

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iPhone App Tells You About Concerts In Your Area

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It is hard to keep track of all the iPhone Applications that are added to iTunes on a daily basis. Most are time wasters or don’t actually make your life any easier. With the growing popularity of the iPhone, the developers who make the apps are starting to come out with some really interesting new programs and concepts including the augmented reality apps that will start popping up soon.

Today I downloaded a new music application that just came out and I have some mixed feelings about it. The application is called “Local Concerts” in the app store and is made by the developers at iLike. The application uses your location to find concerts happening around you. It sorts them by date and allows you to view concerts by venue as well. It is not as helpful in a small town like Aspen where you only have one major venue, but it could be mighty useful in a larger city where it is hard to keep track of all the live music going on around you. The really interesting feature is that it allows you to add your favorite artists and track when they come to a venue near you. When they do, you get a pop-up alert telling you where. Another great feature pulls the artists from your iPod library and lets you know which artists you should be looking out for. Further, when you find a concert you want to see, the app has a link for you to purchase tickets and even a map for you to see where exactly the venue is.

concerts_screenshots_4The concept of this application is great. I am a fan of a lot of different music so it is tough for me to follow the tours of all the music I listen to. This app would allow me to make a list of all the artists I want to see and let me know when they are playing near me. This would save me hours of looking at various band websites and figuring out what shows I want to see.

Although it is a great concept, when I downloaded it and looked for concerts in Aspen, the list was very incomplete. The Belly Up has shows almost every night and it only listed a few over the next month. One big concert the app failed to alert me about was Nas and Damian Marley this coming Wednesday. If I was relying on this app to keep me up to date on the local music scene, I would be sitting at home watching Shark Week instead of front and center at the show. Maybe this is a small town problem and the app works better in larger cities but it might also just be the fact that this app is only a day old. I love the concept and it looks like a clean design so I will give it some time and see if it becomes more accurate when the kinks get ironed out.

The best part about this application is that it is FREE so it won’t hurt to give it a try and see if it works for you in your city.

To purchase the application or see more info check out their site at: http://www.ilike.com/mobile

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