Category Archives: new toys

5 Awesome Android Reading Apps

Earlier this month I managed to talk Josh into buying me a tablet. (Okay, it might have been retribution for having to stand in Best Buy for 45 minutes while he quizzed a salesman about the games that he needed to purchase for his History in Video Games course.) My very, very early birthday present/pay back, is a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. And it’s awesome.

So far I’ve spent a lot of time (probably too much) playing games, checking my email and downloading apps on it. Since this is technically taking the place of my now somewhat retired ereader (a Nook Color, for the record) one of my first tasks was to find apps that would allow me to read ebooks and magazines. I’ve come across these five thus far:

nextissue1) Next Issue. This app works like Rhapsody’s music service. For $14.99 a month, you get access to over one hundred magazine titles – both new and back issues. If you’re a magazine addict like me (I once had over a dozen different subscriptions) you’ll love this. I’m only a few days into my 30 day free trial, and I think that it’s completely worth it. Just think of all of the magazines that I can read without killing trees and having them in stacks all over my office!

zinio2) Zinio. Since I’ve already stated my sheer love of magazines, I’ll rank this one second. With this app, I can purchase (or subscribe to) magazines that aren’t covered by Next Issue. I’ve purchased single issues through Zinio in the past, but found reading them on my computer to be a complete and total pain in the rear. Having an app for it makes it much easier.

kobo3) Kobo. After Barnes and Noble pissed me off several years ago (I haven’t purchased either a book or an ebook from them since, although I do buy textbooks from them, because they run my school’s bookstore), I turned to other sources, namely Kobo. They are a Canadian company that sells ebooks online, and they also have an array of tablet and standard ereaders that I was drooling over. Plus, they have a free app that syncs with my account, so I no longer have to side load books onto my tablet. Yay.

Mantano4) Mantano Reader. This was an app that I actually had to pay for (although not really, since I received $10 in Google Play credits for registering my tablet.) It handles all of the ebooks that I didn’t buy from Kobo, and has a number of other functions that I’m not going to use. I do not plan on hooking my device up to social media, so while some people might get a kick out of sharing the books they read with their internet “friends,” I have no desire to do so and won’t use that option. They also have some sort of cloud option where you can sync up the app with your computer, but it costs money to use and seems overwhelming complicated.

Play Newstand5) Google Play Books and Play Newsstand. Both of these came preinstalled on my tablet. I haven’t much of a chance to use them, other than to connect Newsstand with my Wired magazine subscription so that i can read it both in my office (in old-school paper format Woo Hoo!) and when I have a break between classes on my tablet. I’ll have to play with both of them more in order to give them a fair review.

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A few cool things

Did you know that Krispy Kreme (baker of awesome doughnuts) has a cell phone app? It’s for Android, iPhone or your desktop computer. Basically, you plug in your location info and it tells you where the nearest Krispy Kreme is, and sends you alerts when they have fresh doughnuts. For a chocolate-covered doughnut-addicted frequent-road tripper like me, it’s perfect. And it’s free. How can you beat that?


I love a good board game, and am entirely disappointed whenever I wander the game aisle at Wal-Mart. All of the new ones seem to come with DVDs or are shadows of the ones I remember playing as a kid. I think all of the kids these days are more into video games, which is a shame. (And, yes, I know how old that makes me sound.) So, when a new board game comes along, I get excited. This one is based on the TV show Modern Family. Basically, as you make your way around the board, you advance by collecting tokens. To get a token you have to draw a card (the color of which depends on the color of the space that you’re on) and answer trivia questions about the show, do charades or discuss show-related topics. Pretty cool!

I got a kick out of this quiz on the ABC Home & Carpet Reveal Blog: Find Your Perfect Bookcase. All that you have to do is answer two questions, then scroll down to see what your ideal bookcase style is. It turns out that I’m “classic” and that this style is recommended:

Todd Hase designs are made-to-last classics. This bookcase, rendered from sycamore wood, is a timeless piece that will certainly outlast your book collection.

Since it resembles almost all of the 6 (yes, 6!) bookcases in my office, I’m going to with yes, the quiz is pretty darn accurate.

What style did you end up with?

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Check out the Let’s Eat! Android app

I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I need to eat asap — or else someone’s going to lose an eye (or worse.) My husband will testify to that: he’s been on the receiving end of that disaster in progress. Add that fact and the road trips that we enjoy together, and you’ll have the makings for a disaster of epic proportions, especially if I’m both tired and hungry.  But then I discovered the Let’s Eat! app.

That’s what’s cool about the Let’s Eat! app that I just downloaded onto my (Android, thank you very much) phone. Instead of having to wander through reader reviews and 10,000 menu options to find something nearby, I just have to let the app find my location and then everything within 1km, or around .62 miles, pops up. With the help of Google maps, it even gives me directions on how to get to the restaurant, diner or gas station of my choosing. Yes, I’m not above eating a gas station hot dog. Most of them are quite tasty. But, I digress…

The graphics on the app are simple and straightforward. You don’t need any flashing or blinking icons, or any annoying restaurant reviews when all that you want to do is find something to eat before your wife starts beating on you. (Right, Josh?)

You can find the Let’s Eat! app on the Android Market here, or search from your cell phone. For 99 cents, how can you go wrong?

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Fun with Snapbucket

I tested out the Snapbucket app on my phone the other day. After about an hour of playing with it, I came up with these:





It was easy to alter each picture and upload them to my new SnapBucket account. (What’s even cooler is that it uploads the original un-altered picture as well.) It even includes options for sending the finished results to other people via email, facebook and twitter. I do wish that you could send your finished pictures via text, but, oh, well.

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Slightly obsessed with Tumblr

Over a year ago, I started an account on the “micro-blog” site Tumblr, just to see what the fuss was about. Yesterday in a rare moment of boredom I logged back on and started playing with it. I am now obsessed.

I love the idea of being able to submit tiny little one-line posts and single photographs to a blog without having to expand it and create some sort of a narrative structure. Sure, this blog is awesome (if I do say so myself) for longer things like book, product  and food reviews, multiple cat pictures and funny stories, so it isn’t going anywhere, but it’s nice having a place to post shorter things and some of my truly “random” thoughts. My Tumblr is essentially an extension of this blog, which is its intended purpose.

So, here is the link to my Tumblr: More Random Thoughts of Crazy Mandy. I hope you’ll check it daily to see what kind of crazy thoughts I manage to come up with.

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New feature: weekly Random Thoughts newsletter!

I’m trying something new… a weekly email delivered straight to your inbox! Sign up for a special weekly edition of my random thoughts, links to my articles published ’round the web, and other fun nonsense. It’s free so sign up now!

For Email Marketing you can trust

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The return of Floyd

My computer, affectionately named Floyd D. Computer, decided to die this past Monday. Of course, since writing is impossible without a computer to send, publish, and retrive files, I freaked out.

Thanks to my quick-thinking and awesome parents, I received a new computer a few hours later that same day. I named him Floyd D. Computer Jr, and he is my birthday and Christmas presents for the next few years. In fact, I’m writing this on him now. He’s an HP G62-340US notebook with a 300 gb hard drive, 3 gb of RAM and a 2.2 Ghz processor, all of which is at least double what the old Floyd possessed.

My mother-in-law offered to help me retrieve my files off of the old Floyd, so yesterday I took him to a local computer shop: PAK Computers. Lo-and-behold, they managed to fix him for $60! It turns out that some of his RAM went bad, so they removed the damaged chip and he worked just fine, albeit a little slowly since he now only has 1Gb left. But he works! And 24-hours later, I was able to back up his files on my own.

I’m keeping the original Floyd  just in case. Besides, I can’t bear to part with him: I have a sentimental attachment to that old HP laptop!

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Batty for board games

 I have about 30 board games, including 6 Star Wars ones (Escape from the Death Star, Trivial Pursuit, 2 versions of Monopoly, and 2 versions of Risk), five *count ’em* FIVE versions of Monopoly (the two aforementioned Star Wars ones, Cleveland, Harley Davidson, Catopoly, and the original), plus classics like Yahtzee, Life, Hotels, Battleship, Scrabble, and Axis and Allies.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to play too many of them. It’s hard to find the time, plus a certain person won’t play Scrabble with me because I always win. (BTW – he cheats at Battleship.) And then the cats take over, like in the picture above. Osiris spent a good 15 minutes attacking the dice, It was just so funny that I let her play with them.

The next thing you’re going to ask is, “How did I get so many board games?” Well, some I’ve had since I was a kid, some were gifts when I was in college, and others I bought on ebay. One of them is older than I am: Escape from the Death Star is from 1977.  I even rescued some games from the dumpster outside of my building. Before you say EW, let me clarify – they were on the ground outside the dumpster and were still in their original shrink wrap. I couldn’t let them go to the landfill. It just wasn’t right.

There are still a few on my wish-list, including a blank make-your-own Monopoly, and several Star Wars-themed games that I don’t yet have. I’d also like a complete Axis and Allies (the old mid-80’s version) since mine is missing some pieces. I think I need Mousetrap to complete the collection, too. None of the new-fangled ones though. The last time I wandered the game aisle at Wal-Mart I was dismayed to find that they all contain DVD’s now. Are attention spans that short? It’s sad that kids these days will never know how much fun it is to spend three hours losing at Monopoly.

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My new blog is up and running. Click here to go to:

On my new blog (don’t be alarmed, this one will by no means be abandoned) I’m going to share my opinions on local sports: Cleveland Browns, Cleveland Cav’s, Cleveland Indians, Akron Aero’s, and… whatever the hockey team is called now, oh wait, the Lake Erie Monsters. Don’t expect play by play or game descriptions. This is going to feature my opinions on things only.

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Addictive droid games

I can’t stop playing with my new phone. So far, I’ve downloaded close to 30 different apps, some of them being useful (news, weather, email) and some just good, plain fun – games!

Here are my top five games, thus far, in no particular order:

1) Fruit Ninja. I can’t stop playing it! Who knew that Ninja’s hate fruit? LOL

2) Bubble Blast 2. Another one that I can’t stop playing. The sound effects are cool and the puzzles actually require a bit of skill and luck.

3) Angry Birds. I love it. The pigs stole the birds’ eggs, so you have to slingshot the birds to attack the pigs. Weird, but cool.

4) Curling. I set it up on two-player and Josh and I challenge each other. He gets mad when I win. 🙂

5) Paper Toss. It’s hard and I get annoyed at it, but I’ll beat it eventually!

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