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Settlers of Catan: Getting Creative with Long Distance Relationships

Towards the end of her junior year of college, my sister met her future husband. He was graduating, and had already made plans to go to Israel to get a masters for the next two years. Joanna and Mordecai kept in touch over skype for those two years, and were creative with how they spend time together. Sometimes they would cook dinner “together” or listen to podcasts and do work; other times they would invite my brother and me to play cards with them. We placed Mordecai cards on a stand, and he told us “second from the left” to select which card to play.

2012 083 A few of my siblings and I also played cards like this my freshman year of college while they were home for a break and I was still at school. (See image on left.)

Now my brother (a 2nd Lieutenant in the army) is dating a girl currently stationed in Germany. Instead of the usual cards over skype, we tried a new game: Settlers of Catan – the app! – while also using google hangouts to talk.

We had played Settlers before, but never online, so it took a while for everyone to get set up, purchase the app for $4.99 and then get to playing. All in all I thought it was a fun way to spend time together, and we will certainly be playing again (not to mention to get our $4.99 ‘s worth). If you’ve run out of fun things to do with your long-distance family or significant other, I’d recommend giving it a try.

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What’s Up with WhatsApp?

My family is majorally based in Hong Kong. That is almost 8,000 miles and 24 hours of flight time from my house in Albany, New York. My parents have been separated from their families for more than 27 years. Back then communication was through hand written letters and international prepaid calling cards that charged by the minutes. Today we use a handy little messaging app known as WhatsApp.

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Bridging the Gap: Apple to Samsung (and Vice Versa)

I have recently made a life-changing decision; switching from an (outdated) iPhone 5 to a brand new Samsung Galaxy S7. While my reasons for the huge switch could be the topic of conversation, I instead want to address a frequent problem people experience when faced with my same situation; transferring data across two different operating systems.

Apple is notorious for their (albeit buggy) iOS operating system (current: 9.2) while Samsung favors the Andriod OS (current: Marshmallow 6.0.1). Now most of the time, when you upgrade from one iPhone to another or a Samsung/Andriod to another, the transferring of pictures, music, contacts, etc. is a seamless process. However when jumping from on OS to another? Not so smooth.

Obviously I fall under the “completely changing operating systems” category. The solution? AT&T’s Mobile Transfer App.

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For those of you who aren’t hip and up to date on what the cool kids slang is, BBBW stands for “Bye-Bye Bulky Wallets”.  Okay well maybe that isn’t what the kids say these days and maybe I did just make it up right then and there, however, the statement is totally true and the app Gyft is the solution to that.

Gyft is an app where you can buy, send, and manage gift cards that you own on any device.  You are able to choose gift cards from hundreds of retailers such as Target, Sephora, Amazon, Best Buy and so much more.  Gyft allows to you shrink down that wallet size by eliminating all the space taken up by your gift cards and make more room for all that cash you have (if only; I’m just a poor college student).

Some key factors that Gyft has is that there are no fees of any kind, it’s simple self-serve ordering, order tracking by recipient, all digital causing no loss of cards), and you can use it for hundreds of different retail stores.  Something that I appreciate about this app is that say you own a business you can buy gift cards through the app in bulk for employee rewards or customer loyalty incentives.  Not only as a business person can you give gift cards, but you can also create your own for your own business.  All you have to do is upload your logo, type your business name, and choose fonts and colors.

“The Gyft Business app has created an efficient and simplified way for us to issue and redeem gift cards. Not only has it driven more business for us, but it has given my customers more purchasing and gifting options” -Amy Keppeler, Barn Owl

As a person who has a lot of gift cards in her wallet, always forgetting what gift cards I actually have, and is constantly having the struggle to find the correct card when in line to check out, Gyft is going to be great for me.  I actually just downloaded it on my phone and I’ve decided to give it a try!  I’ll keep you posted for those curious as to how the app really works.

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Is it Really “Over”?

“We are believers in the power of creativity. Helping you discover more creativity will improve your life in every way. Mobile devices have given us incredible new freedoms and we imagine a time when you will be able to accomplish powerful creative tasks using just a phone.  We make creativity easy, everywhere.”


No don’t worry this isn’t a post about dating or break-ups, but it is about a photo-editing app. With “Over” you have the option to choose from 25 groovy fonts and add text to your photos.  You can add captions, quotes, jokes, whatever tickles you pink to make your photo the way you want it.  You are also able then resize, align and position your text however you would like on your photo. When you finish, you can easily post your creation to any social media site you would like and share your image with the world. What is nice about Over is that you are able to change preset photo sizes for your different social medias. Over has all of them saved, so you can crop before or after you edit a photo.  There’s no full-fledged image-editing, but you can make basic adjustments: cropping; blurring; tints; opacity.  Though they don’t have those features, their main goal for the app is to just put text on images.


When the owner was asked about how Over manages to stand out from the rest of the thousands of photo editing app, Marshall responds that “it has put a lot of effort to establish a good brand as well as a strong relationship with its customers…It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the competition game. I keep listening to our customers, and deliver accordingly.  The key is to find a way to drive value to your users and know what makes them tick.”

I would probably invest into this app, but only if they were to add full-fledged image-editing to the app as well.  The only time I edit photos is when my picture is too big to fit on Instagram, but I can see how people who enjoy making memes would love this app.  Something that I think would be cool for Over to do is be able to print out these pictures and make them invitation cards to different events like weddings, baby showers, graduation parties, ect.  Or if that isn’t an app already, maybe I’ll have to create something like that myself…

So if you’re wondering, the editing apps of photos are never really “over” (pun definitely intended)

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Cheating or Helpful?

MyScript Calculator is an app of IOS or Android users where it lets a person calculate mathematical operations with freehand writing of expressions on your touch screen.  All you need to do is draw on your screen the problem you want to calculate and it will solve the problem for you.

Some features on MyScript include buttons to undo and redo, and a trash can for when you want to clear the screen completely.  Under the setting tab you are able to change the number of decimal points the app displays, switching to left-handed input, and as well as a few other options.  A feature that I really thought was super cool was a setting called palm rejection.  This feature means the app will ignore the part of the hand that touches the screen, which would be very helpful for my case because I am a person who normally rests my hand on the writing surface when writing or drawing things on my devices that include touch screens.  The app also lets you solve for variables using a question mark. This means you could write “6 (6+1) + ? = 50” and MyScript Calculator will replace the question mark with the correct answer automatically.


MyScript Calculator converts hand-written numbers and symbols into clear notation before your eyes, then shows you the solution to a math expression instantaneously. Not only can you add, subtract, multiply, and divide; you also can solve trigonometric functions by writing sin, cos, tan, and the degree of the angle on the screen. The app supports surprisingly complex expressions, letting you add exponents, draw the radical symbol for square roots, draw a line to divide by another number, and so on. You can continue to add to each mathematical expression or erase parts of it until you get it exactly right.

While MyScript is perfect for math students or anyone who wants to make a quick calculation, I don’t think that it is helpful for people who are trying to learn material.  Because this app automatically calculates the answer for you, it doesn’t give people the opportunity to figure out the solution themselves which is not helpful when you’re learning new information.  While I don’t think it’s good for people who are learning information, I can see it to be useful for people who are in the business world and need to calculate something really quick or people who are not in school and need it to calculate simple things fast.

“Amazing piece of software. All my sales team use it now to easily explain our monthly deals to clients. Fantastic work!” -Yelrom

“This has become my favorite calculator for quick calculations like computing gas mileage, or figuring the sales tax of an item.” -Tdahlia

Another complaint that I saw someone had about MyScript said:

“The one problem I had with the app, was that you can’t resize the display once the numbers have been written and recognized. With the ability to add more math expressions at any time, it seems like there should be a way to resize the area with a pinch-to-zoom type of gesture so there is room to add more variables.”

As a person who likes to see all of her work at once, I completely agree with this statement that they should have the opportunity to zoom in and zoom out.  Maybe someday they will update the app so you would be able to do that.

MyScript Calculator is free at the app store and is great for when you want to perform quick calculations and I don’t think it would be smart for students wanting to find the solutions to more complex problems when they are just learning the information.

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