Grand Home Management with Gideon Smart Home

While home may be where the heart is, with our busy lives we often find ourselves away from home than in it. This makes management of our home through the magic of remote access essential to our modern way of living. Making that access and control convenient and seamless is what Gideon Smart Home integration app available on Google Play.

Imagine being able to control your thermostat setting from work so you don’t run the heater or a/c when no one is home. How about being able to tap into your security system’s camera after 4pm so you can make sure the kids got home safe?

You can buy so many gadgets to control technology in your home, but who wants to use different apps to control each piece? Gideon downloads to any of your Android devices and brings accessibility to all of your home technologies to you, in one simple and easy to use app.

There are over 50 different types of devices that Gideon currently connects and controls, including:

  • Rheem water heaters
  • Nest Thermostat, Protect, Smoke Alarms, and Cam
  • Quirky and GE air conditioners
  • Lutron lights and blinds
  • Sonos Play 1, 3, and 5
  • Netatmo Welcome, Thermostat, Module, and Weather Station
  • And so many more…

Gideon

Once you download the app, which is available for free, you simply look for the products you want to connect to and establish the link. It’s that simple.

What is really cool is the easy-on-the-eye black background. I found it extremely pleasing to use, both during day and night.

After creating all the connections you need, you can further simplify your control over the technologies by creating scheduled programs that collate and execute set commands. For instance, if you want the temp at 70 degrees, the kitchen window shades opened, and the island light ON all at 6:00am, you can create a “Wake Up” protocol and define these parameters for those functions. You can also state what days you want to run and for what duration.

It allows you to take full advantage of the automated technologies you have invested in.

If you have multiple properties, you can use Gideon to program in connectivity to each property. Each property will have its own lists of devices it connects to, its own preset programs, etc.

Gideon also allows for connectivity amongst some of the devices. Let’s say the furnace is not working and the kids will be getting home in about one hour. Gideon allows you to have failsafes in place to make sure the house is warm before the kids arrive. You can program in code to say if the furnace is not working, turn on the gas fireplace. Gideon will alert you to the problem when it happens and will also let you know that your backup has been engaged.

Tears of the Machine – Defender Game Embeds Saga with Mystery and Combat

Last year, Mohamed Elzankaly brought the iTunes community something different with the introduction of Tears of the Machine. Confusing on the surface, this game captured players’ curiosity and ensnared gamers from all over.

At the time, the game was divided into four different chapters or episodes that were unhinged.

Today, we have Tears of the Machine Extended. Elzankaly has soldered the saga into one app that you work your way through, so game play is continuous and the experience, whole.

The scene? It’s year 2085 and you are slowly awakening to sounds of battle all around you. The enemy? The Global Order Coalition.

They have banded together a force to take over and take out anyone who opposes them.

As you slowly come to your senses, you find that there are images of a young girl that flash in your mind, or is it your memory? You can’t quite make out if those are memories or a dream. But you persevere to find out, all the while trying to stay alive – because you know the Coalition is in the wrong, and it must be defeated.

Chock full of interesting challenges and obstacles, Tears of the Machine tests your defender gaming abilities. You start playing in the Prologue and make your way through, with increasing levels of difficulty.

Each win brings you better weaponry and improved skill sets. As you pass through, you open up more doorways out of the Prologue and into the next chapter, Episode 1.

The Extended version of Tears of the Machine has a Prologue, Episode 1, and Episode 2. Episodes 3 and 4 are slated for release at least one year out, but they will come.

What I really liked about the game is that you can play it in different ways. If you are not up for a huge challenge and you want to experience the storyline, then choose Story Mode. If you are less passive and want a more immersed experience, then you must definitely choose the Survival Mode.

As an addition to the previous version of the app, there are Extras, which allows you to explore the gaming world and listen to audio clips throughout, giving you more context and clues as to how you may have gotten there and what your past is about.

There is no shortage of entertainment in this app. There are so many activities and battles to fight, backed by the ongoing storyline that keeps you questioning more and more to uncover where you came from and who you are.

I did find some of the controls to be a bit slow, and had to keep my patience as I moved along through the game, but it may have been caused by other things besides the app. I will have to try it out some more to see if there are any changes.

Other than that, this game is addictive because it collides a world of mystery and unknown identity with a conflict that you must work your way out of. I have not seen too many app with so much action and meaning all wrapped up in one place. Try out Tears of the Machine soon!

Enhance Presentations with Toolbox for Keynote Mac App

Making the perfect presentation is not always intuitive. It takes a lot of creativity and time to piece together content that delivers the information the way you want it to look, flow, and be arranged on each page.

That’s where a powerful toolset comes in handy. If you use Keynote on your Mac to create presentations, and you love all that has to offer, you can enhance your experience with Keynote by downloading Toolbox for Keynote.

We all know that Keynote provides a superb development environment for presentation creation, but it does lack in variety and options for different layouts, backgrounds, images, and productivity sets. Toolbox for Keynote builds on what Keynote already has and takes it up a few notches.

Enhancements include a multitude of clipart images; preset themes and layouts with built in maps, charts and graphics to match; infographics that are clear, concise, and customizable; small graphics that are customizable, like bullets, patterns, frames, and characters; illustrations like doodles, badges, icons, and more.

What is really cool about Toolbox is that you can download it for free, check out what it has to offer, and then pick and choose the pieces you like? If you want the infographics, you can purchase that product set. If you only need the clipart images with editing feature, you can purchase Clipart Prime. If you like all of the enhancement product sets, you can purchase the full bundle, and save lots of money. The added bonus to the full bundle is that you get free updates for everything for the lifetime of the product.

I fell for the full bundle because there were so many options to choose from and it made sense to pay less for more!

After I made the in-app purchase, I sat down to play around with a practice presentation. Normally, you would open Keynote and choose a theme. Without Toolbox, there were 30 themes to choose from. With Toolbox, I had over 100 different types of themes at my disposal! I was blown away.

Toolbox for keynote

I chose my theme and started adding some basic information on each screen. Then I went back and decided on the enhancements I wanted to add. There were so many to choose from:

  • Over 700 different clipart images
  • More than 100 item sets that include doodles, icons, and more
  • More than 300 graphic styles for bullets, frames, patterns, and characters
  • Over 2100 types of diagrams, data visualization sets, charts, flags, and maps

Initially, I was overwhelmed, but I am sure that as projects come in, I will find great use for the abundant choices offered. What I really liked was that you can get new ideas by just browsing.  I thought I knew what I wanted to add, but when I looked at the different options that Toolbox offered, my mind went in a totally different direction.

The only thing I could possibly offer as an improvement to the app is to offer smaller bundles. I like the full bundle, but I can see a lot of folks who use a certain smaller grouping of product sets getting excited about being able to get a discount on a trio.

I can see in-app sales boosted by offering these smaller packages, as a full on $49.99 purchase can be daunting. I love my full bundle and I get lost in the app just browsing and trying things out. I don’ t have a project on hand to create, so I am doing my best to immerse myself in Toolbox for Keynote so I am at the ready when I get the next deliverable! This app is also available for iOS.

Be Thrilled with Bravium

Bravium is an action filled role play game where you fight against enemies and other powerful characters to finish off one level and progress towards the next one. There are lot of exciting levels to show off your skills and power and it is more than a hundred levels as mentioned on the play store.

This is quite a huge app due to its high definition graphics and visual effects and please be mindful of the fact that it drains the battery quite quickly and can cause some heating issues to the device. The app is available free on the play store, just download and install and you are good to go. However, be thrilled…there are a lot of exciting in-app purchases for you!

When you first start the game, the app asks for permission to allow Bravium to access photos, media and files on your device and this must be mainly due to the fact that you should enable recording if you need to create and share your replays. The app also asks to allow access to location which I am not sure of why, as this isn’t a location based game, but what I really guess is, that it may compare your achievements with other players around that region, still unsure!

If you press deny for any of the above options, you will not be able to proceed to playing the game, so this is something that may be of concern for worried users.

Once you get into the Bravium screen, you will be given a short intro of all the items on the screen and on how to proceed further into the game. There are short tips here and there to guide the player on how to play and also on what to do with certain characters that appear on the screen. Some power ups are displayed on the screen when you start the game however they seem to disappear as a one off power for that level. So players need to be careful enough to choose those power ups at the right time when required.

While playing the game, destroying towers gets the hero (the player) a star and cabbages. The player can also collect diamonds and cabbages while killing the enemies and diamonds pop up on the screen that the player will have to collect.

In each level the player can earn up to a maximum of 3 stars; one for survival and one for each tower killed. The player can also earn coins for kills and the number of coins depends on the power of the enemy killed.

Using the collected stars, the player will be able to purchase strength, stamina, intelligence and wisdom from the store which is basically upgrading the talents. Cabbages are also collected when killing towers and enemies, and these help with upgrading your weapons.

The player can use diamonds to boost up the power before starting a level and If you are unable to survive a particular level with certain hero power or combination of weapons, you can try other heroes or different combination of skills and weapons.

A good feature of the app that most players will be pleased with, is the built in replay option that lets one record their gameplay and share their experience with other players around the world with everyplay. One needs to enable recording to create a replay. This is a good option in the sense that it helps other struggling players to learn killing techniques and skills and on what strategies to use to complete a level.

You can also see your achievements on the leaderboard by tapping the medal icon in the bottom left of the screen and compare it with other players from around the world.

The only drawback of the game is the wait to collect coins, cabbages and stars to upgrade weapons or make purchases without which you will need to be spending money for upgrades which will be a disappointment to many.

Floating out – Simple Yet Powerful Challenging Game

Floating out is a game made with Unity and offered by Glint labs. This game is challenging in its own way where you use certain strategies to calculate the best possible way through a level to the exit. Each level is different where you could be given the option of either number of touches or a certain amount of time within which to reach the exit.

The game is available free on the play store and can be downloaded and installed easily. When you open the game, you have the option to log into Google play games or not. There are a total of 5 Chapters with 15 levels in each chapter totaling to 75 challenging levels for the player to enjoy!

On proceeding to play, the player will be presented with the screen for Chapter 1 that shows the levels for that chapter numbered 1 to 15. Depending on the number of attempts the player takes to finish each level, they are given 1, 2 or 3 stars and these are recorded under each level as the player completes each level. You can score a maximum of 45 stars in total for each chapter, i.e. 15 levels x 3 stars maximum for each level. When you initially start, you will have ‘0/45’ displayed on the screen.

The player will start from Level 1 and on entering the level will be provided with a challenge in which the player will have to guide a ball through to the exit. There will be many obstacles of different forms all along the way and the player will need to strategically guide the ball through the best possible path, avoiding the obstacles and reach the exit.

Some obstacles can instantly kill the ball and you will need to start the level again. Guiding the ball through to the portal is by touching the screen. The ball moves in the direction of touch. If you touch near the ball, it moves slower and if you touch farther away from the ball it moves faster. Both these come in handy in situations where you need to control the speed of the ball in order to avoid or escape obstacles or may be reach the exit on time.

All the 15 levels in Chapter 1 have levels where the player has to guide the ball through touch only and it is not timed. Each level has a particular number of touch provided depending on the difficulty of the level and the player needs to guide the ball to the exit by using the available touches to reach the exit. For example, level 3 has 10 touches, level 4 had 3 touches, and so on. The obstacles in each level are quite different. Some levels are pretty easy while some are highly challenging.

Chapter 2 levels are a combination of both touch only and touch + timed levels. Timed levels have a time limit within which you have to guide the ball to the exit without being killed by obstacles in between. If you need to start a level again for some reason, in the middle of playing a level, you just need to tap the ring shaped icon on the top right of the screen. Touching the menu icon on the top left (four small squares) takes you to the main page where you can see your score for each level for that chapter; for example, 1, 2 or 3 stars. You can also see the total number of stars you have scored for that particular chapter. The achievement icon on the top left of this page will take you to the achievements page where you can have a look at all your achievements / awards earned so far. There are a total of 14 achievements that the player can accomplish.

Features of the game:

  • Floating out is a very simple yet powerfully challenging game that can be of interest to both children and adults. The app does not have tutorials or guidance of any kind and it is not a drawback at all as the game is pretty self explanatory.
  • The game has a combination of both easy and difficult levels and some levels can be very difficult if not played strategically.
  • Finishing each chapter will unlock the achievements for that chapter and also any other achievements that the player earned while playing that chapter. An example of one award is the persistent award, that is awarded if you die 20 consecutive times in one level. This can sometimes happen in very difficult levels, but the persistence to continue to finish that level without giving up earns the player that award. Yes, some levels are quite difficult and that is what makes it interesting too!
  • The game is challenging in a way that it makes you want to complete each level so that you can go ahead and take on more challenges that come your way. There is a curiosity behind what awaits the next level.
  • This is a kind of mind and strategic game where you use your logical skills to complete each level to reach the exit in minimal number of moves or time possible.
  • There are a total of 14 awards to be accomplished. One each for completing chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, one for the end, i.e. for completing all chapters, beginner award, advanced level award, expert level award, perfectionist award, ninja award, innocent award, persistent award and lightning award.
  • The best part of the game is that you do not have to start all over again if you lose life, instead you can just continue from the same level that you are, which is a huge relief.

I could not see much of any negatives while playing Floating out, but there is an in-app purchase that players will need to pay for in order to continue to Chapter 3; that is after completing level 30. Although this is not a high price to pay, this may leave a few kids upset if they are refused a purchase by their parents. iPhone version is available here.

Slow Burn Burns Fat Faster – Keeps You Focused

Fighting fat is hard. We have all had to face the music at some time or another when we try on those pants that just won’t button up, or when the shirt you used to love now stretches ever so slightly across the belly.

When that time comes, you know you have to take action. But, that action has to be the right action. You can run around the block only so many times before you realize it’s doing you no good.

That’s where Slow Burn can help. Slow Burn is an exercise phenomena developed by Fred Hahn. The Slow Burn takes his findings and puts the theory to work in an app, formulating it into a program that anyone can download and benefit from.

The basics behind Slow Burn is that you get multiple levels of benefits by breaking down focused sets of exercise over a long period, into a long period that consists of multiple types of exercises, each done in shorter intervals and interspersed.

For instance, instead of doing a total of 50 squats in 5 sets of 10 each, you would do 5 sets of 5 squats and 5 leg lifts. You would each of the 5 sets as: 5 squats and 5 leg lifts.

slow burn

Free to install, Slow Burn takes the guess work out of exercise and advises on the best way to burn calories and fat, so you have control and guidance on how get to your goal in a way that you can stick with and that provides easy consistent burn.

Because it’s free, there will be ads. If you want to avoid them, you can make an in-app purchase to bar them from your installation. Although, I will say that the ads were not distracting in the very least.

When you see the main screen, simply tap on Start to begin. From here the app asks how many sets you wish to do. You simply enter the number and then start. Then, as you finish a set of exercises, you simply tap the circle that’s in the center of the screen to move on to the next set. All you have to do is keep track of the different exercises you are doing per set and make sure you complete the number that is required.

The app also keeps track of how much time you spend on each set, so you can see your performance. You can even use this number to set a goal to finish a set within so many seconds.

I was kind of expecting a bit more out of the app in term of being able to use the timing data. It would be nice if the app saves that information and allows you to use the historical information to set goals for improvement.

Nonetheless, this app certainly helps make it a lot easier to follow the Slow Burn tactic behind getting more out of the exercise you do, without killing yourself. It helps you stay focused and stick with any program you choose to do.

Paralign – Real Connections in Real Time

In a time where experts say human beings are the most connected, it’s interesting to note how disconnected people really feel. Sure, you may have tons “friends” on Facebook, and more followers than you have friends, but are those connections real?

Do those people with whom you are digitally connected relate to who you really are? Do you know who you are? Those are all deep questions, and while we think we have folks around us that “get” us, sometimes it really isn’t the case.

Paralign lets you look inward to find out who you really are, what do you believe it, and help you identify what you believe in. It helps you figure out what makes you tick.

Paralign is an app that allows you to make connections that matter by letting you align with other members who share similar thoughts.

When you download, you can sign up using either email or a social media account. If you are not ready to commit, you have the option to use the app as a Guest. What was important to me, and I am sure to many others, is that Paralign will not post anything you enter on the social media site.

paralign

There are three areas in which to communicate with fellow members: My Mind, Similar Minds, and Wondering Minds.

The app has a mood journal under My Minds that lets you jot down what is happening and how you are feeling, in the moment. It helps you see what affects you and your moods so you can better predict if, going into a particular type of setting, you will be triggered to get happy, sad, upset, etc.

My Minds is also where you will set moods as you feel them or reflect on your day. This will add to your personal journal, so you can detect patterns and help go into situations with more insight. To enter these quick data points, you type in text about your thoughts and tag it with one of six emotions: happy, peaceful, nervous, neutral, sad, or mad. Then you can qualify your tag with an intensity rating of 1 for low and 5 for high.

You can keep you submissions private, or you can share. In sharing submissions, like-minded Paraligners will see your posts and can chime in with supporting replies.

One area the app could improve on is adding some fun by including emojis. Sometimes graphics can send the message you really want to send, and put an even bigger smile on someone’s face. I know I enjoy them while texting and it could be a big boon to this app.

Extremely easy to use and refreshingly well-timed, Paralign helps you keep your emotions in check, it helps you deal with difficult situations, and it helps you lift your mood, all with the help of a community that speaks your language and understand how you think.