Posts Tagged ‘app’

I have this problem: I want to stay in touch with my friends when I travel. I get homesick and communicating with random strangers just isn’t enough sometimes.

I remember the days when I had these things called “pen-pals”. It’s a really old-skool thing where you would meet someone (or they would be assigned to you) and you would hand-write a physical letter to them. Then, because this wasn’t laborious enough you had to (also) write the address (perfectly and clearly) on the envelope, and place the letter (with a stamp that you magically found) in something called a “mailbox”.

Now we have email. But this isn’t enough, sometimes. I realize how much of a first-world-problem this sounds like. Stick with me for a minute.

We also have texting- but when you’re traveling internationally, this is also expensive (for me). Also, hearing my friend’s voice made such a difference on my own morale (there’s some sort of science behind this, I’m sure). So I’ve made it a mission to find/try every type of (free) communication device/app out there. Here is what I’ve found:

 

Skype: 

I’ve been using Skype since 2008 when I moved to Canada and wanted to call my (only) friends. The only thing I remember about Canada was how miserable I was and how I blame the whole entire nation for that (I’m mature!). Since then, I have stuck with Skype for a few friends and international calling.

  • SUPER EASY to figure out and use.
  • If you call skype-to-skype, it’s free.
  • If you call skype-to-phone number, the prices and quality (depending on your internet) is decent.
  • Depending on the hour/internet connection, the video can be really great or really crappy. (Compared against Google Hangout)
  • The “SMS” service (skype messenger) is reliable, fast and decent. It does auto-correct your crap, though.
  • The iphone app keeps getting better all the time.
  • No group calls (that I know of)

 

Google Hangout:

I started using Google Hangout because Skype was becoming increasingly more difficult and un-reliable. Especially through Central America. Few things to note: I’m not aware of an app-meaning that you have to log in on a tablet/computer to use GH. The learning curve is really steep, but once you have it, you got it. I should note that I’m not really a gmail user by default, so maybe that is the reason why.

  • Only allows GoogleHangout-to-GoogleHangout. (no phone support, that I know of).
  • They have a different video algorithm. Can’t say/decide if it’s better or worse. Sometimes it was great, others it was lousy.
  • The audio quality is ok. (not as good as a good-skype day, though)
  • You can give yourself funny hats/faces.
  • Allows group-chats – up to something redunk like 500 people or something- this makes live-chats/interviews possible.

 

FaceTime: 

I jumped on the apple bandwagon as soon as I heard that Siri could tell you where to hide the dead bodies.  Apple keeps improving their communication-devices/capabilities, and I’ll try that stuff, too. I have friends that use facetime all the time and told me to try it, but I just never did- until I was in the Philippines.

  • The facetime Audio is the best quality that I’ve found out of all voip (voice over IP) services.
  • Very easy to figure out. (only if you have an i-device)
  • You forget that someone can see you pick your nose.

 

Voxer: 

When I returned to the states, my friend’s phone kept going off like a walkie-talkie. The old kind from sprint. Remember those? I asked her what was going on and she exclaimed with glee: “Oh-em-gee! It’s this new app called Voxer! It’s great for when you are too drunk and can’t text anymore but you need to whisper-tell your girlfriends about the douche-canoe at the bar!”

I was sold-and downloaded it immediately. Not just for the drunk factor, but also when I’m taking a long-road trip and want to send a message- but it don’t necessarily need to call them, I can Vox them! Here are my favorite features:

  • Slight learning curve (to set up) but really easy after that.
  • a “push to record a message” function. Can’t get much easier than that.
  • You can tag your messages (location)
  • The app tells you when your message has been delivered and listened to.
  • You can “listen in real time” (basically, talking over Wifi)- except it forces you to listen actively because you can’t talk until they are done talking. (Good relationship practice!)
  • Downloading the message/sending/forwarding it onto your email/text is possible. (If I ever make a podcast, it’ll be full of Voxer stories). (Whatsapp doesn’t do this)
  • Ability to text, send pictures, videos, etc as well.
  • Forwarding messages is possible.
  • Group chats is possible.
  • Messages are stored on a cloud (forever….?)
  • It “connects” once and downloads all your messages in 1-go. If someone has sent you multiple messages it plays them right after the other automatically. (Whatsapp doesn’t do this)
  • “Notes to self” is also available- where you can, you guessed it! record notes for yourself! (Whatsapp doesn’t do this).
  • Finding users is dependent on them looking you up by a user name that is given to you. (Whatsapp uses a phone number).

I have to say that I use Voxer as my most preferred device- because of the download feature. I use it for my podcast friend (Misti), my brother- who is now living in London, friends who live in Baltimore, Seattle, and down the street. I also use the “notes to self” religiously whenever I’m out/about and don’t feel like writing something down.

Whatsapp: 

Another “Walkie-talkie Messenger” app service that is the popular-version of Voxer. Here’s my beef with it:

  • Does everything above (unless stated)
  • You need to download each message before it plays (and hit “play” on the message).
  • Pictures that are sent via Whatsapp are saved in your PhotoLibrary. (kinda cool!)
  • Again, you find a friend on Whatsapp via a phone number, not an ID of some sort. (yay!)

Facebook Messenger:

So, I was late to the party, mostly out of annoyance to FB for shoving their app down my throat every 2 seconds, but my friend Craig finally convinced me of downloading FBMessenger. How? Because he sent me a voice-message- not just text. Just like Voxer/Whatsapp- except it goes off your facebook friends.

  • Only goes from Facebook-To-Facebook (that I know of)
  • It really wants you to have notifications!!! (Even though I don’t want to turn it on, the “reminder screen” pops up every time.)
  • Syncs to your contacts in your phone (not sure why).
  • You can’t save/forward messages.
  • Group chats are possible.
  • Tagging chats is possible. (don’t know why you would do this, but whatevs).
  • It’s a separate app from Facebook.

 

So, if you’re traveling, and you’re homesick, and you want some options on how to stay in contact with people- try some of these out. I’m still a fan of Voxer- but the others are good alternatives. Also- did I mention that they are all FREE? (cause they are!)

Very important questions

Posted: February 27, 2013 in Z0mB!eZ
Tags: , , ,

In talking to a lot of people while I travel there have been a lot of good questions about Zombies. Apparently, Zombies are looked at differently around the world. I shall share some of these (very serious, yet important) discussions with you now:

1) Are Zombies and Mummies related at all? This was a discussion with my friend Edi (who was kind enough to let me couchsurf at his place!). We got into a really good discussion of how there are 2 types of mummies. The wrapped-up kind (like king-tut) where their organs are removed and they come back to life to wreck havoc on the world. And the “frozen” kind– where their body is in almost a hibernation state. We decided that the “king-tut” variety can only be like Zombies because they were DEAD and are coming back to life, as where the frozen kind were never dead to begin with…. just MOSTLY dead. And, as we all know, to be MOSTLY dead is SLIGHTLY alive*. With this said, we also agreed that Mummies aren’t contagious like Zombies. They just wander around. I guess it could be argued that Jesus was a mummy– not a zombie. Because he didn’t bite/infect anyone.

2) Can Vegetarian humans make Zombie vegetarians? Actually, this is a great question! Zombies are brainless. They are going to be in auto-pilot mode. So does this mean that vegetarian friends won’t crave brains, but cauliflower instead? Let’s hope so.

3) “What would your friends look like if they were zombies?” This is actually answerable because of the Walking Dead app: “Dead Yourself”. Check it out. It’s kinda creepy. My brother uses this to zombify his friends/family/pets. He’s currently making a photo album of all these people for when the big day does occur he will be prepared with pictures. “Excuse me, sir… Have you seen my dog? He may look like this or this…”

4) “Why doesn’t a zombie walk stumble into a McDonalds and scarf down 22 big macs, 17 orders of fries and DIET coke. (This is key because they need to keep their killer figure).” -Josh  (currently unanswered)

What other questions do you have about the apocalypse?

*note: Very few Colombians know the movie “The Princess Bride”. This is a huge problem.

Zombies! Run!

Posted: September 6, 2012 in Z0mB!eZ
Tags: , ,

It’s been a very long time since I’ve found a game that made me do things I didn’t want to do (run) AND cry because I’ve gotten so emotionally invested with the characters… But “Zombies! Run!” did all that and more.

I bought this app by suggestion because I was looking for more zombie games. This one stuck around because it accompanied me while I ran.

The premise of the game is that the zombie apocalypse has happened and you are found among a bunch of wreckage. You soon become a “runner”. A person used by the town to run and get things (materials, people, deliveries, etc) between the township and the outside world– all without being eaten by zombies.

Not only is it a British game (meaning all the VO is lovely to listen to) but it’s also done really well! Too well! The characters are so rich and diverse that you get really attached to them.

In between “com announcements”, they will tell you to run somewhere (“over to that far tower!) and then the app plays music (from your playlists).

The story unfolds as you keep doing more and more missions and helping out the town until you’re completely hooked!

I actually finished the game-part (there is a ton of radio-mode aspects that I haven’t gotten through yet) on the subway (read: you don’t actually have to run, but it kinda defeats the immersion part of the game).

Anyway- if you’re looking for an amazing game to play in the background while you’re running, I can’t suggest this one enough.

zombies! run! website