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As a senior in college, I am getting closer and closer to the day I have to take responsibility for my own finances. Luckily we live in a world with effective and innovative tools that can help me do so. One of those tools is an app called Squeeze.

Squeeze is a personal finance app that is designed to help users manage their finances. Tasks it helps with are saving money, reducing debt, and growing wealth by giving you access to price comparison tools for all of your bills. As well as other tools. Such as a spending tracker, financial analytics, and coaching on how to do these things.

Squeeze will sync users’ online banking, credit cards, consumption habit, and evaluate pricing on the users’ recurring bills. The creators of Squeeze look at the app as being an all in one financial solution to managing their personal finances. Squeezes’ financial management app has often been compared to other sites like Expedia and Travelocity. This app also brings together the users mobile phone, the internet, and internet plans all into the app and compare their prices to others constantly.

I personally feel that this app would be a great tool for anyone to use in order to manage their finances effectively and in a new way.

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PASS – Professional Photo Sharing Platform

In today’s digital era, the old models for photography businesses just don’t work. Previously, photographers would sell print packages in addition to their session fees. Clients would have to choose from a gallery of images and pick their favorites to be printed. However, now everyone is accustomed to having cameras on their phones and constant access to as many pictures as they can take. The value of photography work is sadly declining, due to everyone’s new ability to be their own photographer. Gone is the day that clients were satisfied with a handful of prints reflecting only a small selection of their photos. People want to see more, and have access to all of their photos. Some photographers meet this need by providing all of their client’s photos on a flash drive or a CD. At some point, someone thought “isn’t there a better, faster way to deliver my client’s photos?” and PASS was born.

PASS is a photo sharing platform designed specifically for professional photographers to share galleries with their clients. The platform was launched in 2013 and quickly built a long waiting list for an “invitation-only” access to the product download. They offer two pricing structures – free with limited features, or $29 a month for unlimited access to galleries, storage, and other features. PASS is available as a mobile app as well as a website on the client’s end, and as a downloadable software for the photographer to create and manage client galleries. The client is able to view their photos, share them to social media (which links directly back to the photographer, giving them credit for their work), download print-quality files for their own personal use, or order professional quality prints right from the app. The photos are stored on the cloud for up to 10 years, freeing up the photographer from hoarding dozens of back-up drives or boxes of client photo discs. It also effectively eliminates the need for the photographer to be involved in the print distribution – something that receives differing opinions, depending on which photographer you ask (many prefer to review the quality of the prints before giving them to clients).

Overall, PASS makes it so much easier to be a photographer in our digitally fueled world.  As a photographer and long-time PASS user myself, I can attest to the usability and function of this platform. Sending client photos is as easy as uploading the images and clicking “send.” The free version is perfect for photographers like me who shoot the occasional session, and for more serious photographers, the $29/month package is a steal. The business model definitely solved a very niche market need. Their partnership with White House Custom Color Prints creates a one-stop shop for photographers and their easy sharing and downloading features make it a client favorite. From all this, PASS has become one of the most used and trusted forms of photo sharing and distribution in the professional photography industry.

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Citymapper: choose your adventure.


“Eben.” My host mother smiled and hugged me. She wore glasses, a beanie, scarf, stripey gloves and boots, her small frame swallowed up in the big coat she wore to shield her from the January cold.

Struggling to find the right word and ending up persisting with one I knew was wrong, I asked my host mom if both she and her husband were from Berlin originally. Yes, they both grew up there, although she was born in Austria.

On that first trip home I tried to pay attention to our three transfers, knowing I would have to come back to the university the following day. I asked my new host parents for help, wrote down their directions on a piece of paper and prayed to God I would figure out the way back. And I made it! It felt pretty good.

Those months in Berlin I spent alot of time on public transportation, and I often used Citymapper to help plan out routes. Although I prefer getting to know the city myself and figuring things out on my own, Citymapper was really helpful when my route involved buses (the bus schedule was more complicated to figure out than the subway) and when I wanted to find the fastest route.

Citymapper is an app that has public transportation info on currently over 30 major cities worldwide and will put together a route for you via public transportation, walking, or cycling. It offers pretty much anything you could need – realtime travel estimates, offline map, online map, and you can set a home or work address to make things go faster when punching in a destination.

Although I wouldn’t recommend using it as a crutch if you really want to get to know a city, it’s an extremely helpful app when visiting new places or when you don’t have time to plan your route. If they don’t have it in your city, you can vote to get them to start working on it! It’s very well put together and I’d recommend it to anyone who needs help regularly planning the fastest routes. Just don’t forget that there’s nothing like the adventure of figuring it out on your own.

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Periscope: Cool or Creepy?

Heard of the app Periscope? It’s pretty ridiculous. Periscope let’s you watch (and make) live streams and interact with people from all over the world. For some reason, I’ve found it’s especially popular with Russian, Turkish and Arabic speakers.. they poppin’ up everywhere on the map.

Periscope says they came up with the idea for their app by asking questions like, “What if you could see through the eyes of a protester in Ukraine? Or watch the sunrise from a hot air balloon in Cappadocia?” Once you open the app, you can go to the world map and click to watch any live streams being broadcast from all over the world. It’s pretty cool.

Although it’s a cool idea, a majority of streams aren’t as riveting as that sunrise in a hot air balloon might be. Lots of people just stream videos saying “I’m bored, talk to me.” That’s fine, but I guess they won’t be getting lots of followers. Other periscopers have a large following because they’re fun or interesting to watch. One periscoper called Syria View, run by a news network based in Damscus, has over 2 million followers. It’s always in Arabic, so I don’t understand what’s going on when I watch their streams, but obviously people are interested in what they have to say, because of the civil war in Syria. I have to wonder about this news network though, because there are no other periscopers from Syria. My guess is that that news station has special permission from the government to use the app, because the video viewing and streaming is currently blocked for civilians. Probably some of what that network is saying is at least a little bit biased anyway.

Anyway, that to say, with this cool idea there are pros and cons.

Pro – the possibility of being able to hear what is going on all around the world straight from the people who are there

Con – doesn’t always live up to the ideal, not to mention it might be a little uncanny if you’re the one broadcasting your location and activity to the world.

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Apps for One Time Events: the Pittsburgh Marathon

Several GCC students ran in the Pittsburgh Marathon events this weekend. There’s an app for that too.

Larger marathons often have an app to go with their events, and the Pittsburgh Marathon is no exception. The app is one place for participants and spectators to go to get all their information – race day info such as corral and parking locations, maps, runner tracking and more. It’s a lot more concise and convenient than scrolling through the website.

pittsburghmarathonappIn my experience, apps like this improve participant and spectator experience. I watched some of my family members and friends run in the Chicago marathon last fall. Their app was very helpful in navigating the city and course. In addition, after signing up to track certain runners, I received notifications when they passed checkpoints along the course, so we could plan where to be to see them. When I used the Pittsburgh app this weekend, I appreciated being able to quickly access information about the expo (event before the marathon at which runners can pick up their bib numbers), corrals, and the course. The app also sends push notifications about new information such as emergency weather updates.

By making an event run more smoothly, apps like this encourage more participants and spectators to come in following years, which helps not only participants but also those putting on the event. When events are run well it creates pressure for other events to improve as well. So when they help events run smoothly, these event apps benefit all parties.


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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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