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Showing posts with label APPS AND SOFTWARE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label APPS AND SOFTWARE. Show all posts

Thursday, 3 April 2014

I Used the Internet to Quit Smoking


I started smoking for the same reasons most people begin the nasty habit: I was young and stupid.
Like many teenagers, I could care less about the negative aspects of smoking. Money wasn't yet a burden on my everyday existence, the long term effects meant little to nothing and I had myself convinced that quick spritz of spray deodorant and some gum masked the smell well enough.
The truth was that smoking, once a fun and social activity then began to control my life.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed smoking. In fact, I loved smoking.
Smoking was always there for me. It helped alleviate stress, introduced me to most of my good friends, it felt amazing and played a huge role in my daily routine. I would sneak a smoke break anywhere I could, and living in a city always provided a few moments to puff, when waiting for the bus or walking between destinations

The beginning of the end

At age 22 I was up to a full pack a day, sometimes more. My family begged me to quit, but you can't just tell someone to stop smoking — they have to hit rock bottom, they have to want it.
A few years later, at age 24 I was living in New York, the most expensive city in the United States, where cigarette prices are over $12 a pack. There was now no way for me to further delay my mountainous, six-figure student loan debt. I simply couldn't afford to smoke anymore, and quite frankly, I didn't want to.
Then a friend posted an Instagram of her Timehop app. The nostalgia-based app allows you to see your photos and social media updates from exactly one year prior. Someone with whom I had once enjoyed many cigarettes had made it a full year without smoking, and I desperately wanted the same.

After some encouragement from friends and family, I started to seriously consider quitting for real. I had tried a few times before, but I had never put any calculated effort towards it.
I began researching popular methods people use to quit, and stumbled upon an online support group on Reddit, r/stopsmoking. The encouraging community is a place for Redditors who seek motivation to quit, and is filled with stories, words of encouragement and advice. A yellow badge appears next to your username with a number, signifying the number of days since quitting.

Once I immersed myself in the subreddit, I found that the community extremely friendly and helpful. Unlike other places on the Internet, there were no trolls or hateful words toward those who sought advice.

I quit

Although I had yearned to quit, and had done some research in the method and practice I thought best for me, I never picked a specific time to quit. But when I awoke on New Year's Day with a splitting headache, reeking of an ash tray, I figured now was as good a time as ever. The hangover alone was enough to make me not want to smoke, so I knew the first day wouldn't be so bad.
Searching for methods to quit smoking on the Internet is like searching for weight loss tips — there are thousands of different approaches that all claim to be the best, but not all is right for you.

The patch seemed too weird for me, the gum made my mouth itch, prescription medication was definitely out; I had no insurance, e-cigarettes hadn't caught on yet, and reading a self-help book just made me feel like a drug addict, which I was.
Along with cigarettes, my phone was the only other thing I couldn't leave my apartment without
One method that did peak my interest was appsAlong with cigarettes, my phone was the only other thing I couldn't leave my apartment without, and now it was my only clutch.
There are hundreds of apps geared towards quitting smoking. I downloaded an app called QuitIt, because it had good ratings, it was free and wasn't as invasive or time-consuming as some others.
There are hundreds of apps geared towards quitting smoking. I downloaded an app called QuitIt, because it had good ratings, it was free and wasn't as invasive or time-consuming as some others.
The app is geared toward information as motivation. You plug in the amount of cigarettes you smoke, cost per pack and the time you quit smoking. The app does the math and delivers you information based on your specifics.
The status screen tracks the amount of time since you quit, the money you've saved, cigarettes not smoked and the tar associated with that number. The app also includes a number of health goals, which monitors your progress as time continues.


Utilizing the app

Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Like most quitting stories, I did get a little sick, I was irritable and I felt terrible, but the most difficult part was the empty feeling I was left with. I felt as if nothing was ever going to be the same — any activity I had once enjoyed while smoking was simply never going to be as good as it was with a cigarette in hand.
My morning coffee just wasn't like it was before. I drank alone inside bars as my friends braved the cold weather for their vice, and even though my appetite did increase, meals weren't as satisfying without a cigarette for dessert.
Any time I had a craving, I would open the app, and track the progress I had made. If I had a craving while I was on the computer, I'd immediately go to r/stopsmoking, to read a success story, or to offer someone else having a harder time than me support. It was like complaining about a sprained ankle at the doctor's office when the person next to you doesn't have any legs at all.
After just a week or two, I started to notice a difference in my health and hygiene, especially in my mouth. Once the initial shock wore off, sleeping became easier, although occupied with strange, lucid dreams And I began to think about cigarettes less and less.
stopsmoking copy

The app worked for me because of its no-nonsense vibe. The ads are small and barely noticeable, it isn't overloaded with features and functions, it loads quickly and isn't a battery killer.
Other apps like Kwit use game design techniques to encourage quitting.

The app Livestrong which calls itself a "MyQuit Coach" combines game design, community and motivational information. It was a little frustrating to use, however, and the popups just made me want to smoke more.

A lot of apps also feature the humble, social media brag element, allowing you to connect your social media accounts to the app. For me, the thought of failure was worse once I boasted to my followers about how far I had come with my addiction.
Not smoking is still an everyday struggle, and probably will be for the rest of my life. Although myQuitIt app slowly moved from the home screen on my iPhone, to the third screen, back among other forgotten and hardly used apps, I have no desire to delete it. Still, the only time I ever open it is when someone asks how much money I've saved since quitting.
Answer: lots of money, and many years.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Thursday, 3 April 2014

Tesla Drivers' In-Dash Web Browsing Habits Revealed


The race is on to snag the attention of drivers via new Internet-enabled dashboard touchscreens, but metrics on exactly how popular this new browsing experience might be have largely been a mystery, until now.
Quantcast has released numbers from a study conducted over a 30-day period designed to give us some insight into the in-dash usage habits of Tesla owners.
The study, which gleaned stats from 100 million digital destinations over a 30-day period between Feb. 24 and March 23, offers a rough sketch of what the average Tesla owner's in-dash usage looks like.
"This data is based on websites using Quantcast Measure for their audience measurement," a Quantcast spokesperson told Mashable. "The Tesla browser has an identifier called a user agent, similar to a Chrome or Firefox browser. We looked at all visits to measured websites from the Tesla browser."

Predictably, usage of the 17-inch in-dash touchscreen peaks during typical commuting times, in this case, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 4:30pm to 7:30 p.m., respectively
Within the news vertical, the study found that 26%, or roughly half of the news consumption views, were devoted to local news sites, a possible shot in the arm to beleaguered local news ventures like Patch.
Quantcast's study also found that 13% of the news consumed was financial in nature. Interestingly, the study also found that the conservative news aggregation site the DrudgeReport accounted for 10% of overall web browsing traffic.
This can be taken in a couple of ways, depending on how you parse the data. Either it means that Tesla owners, generally affluent at this point, lean conservative, or it could just be attributed to the quick loading, bare-bones design of the DrudgeReport website.
Tesla usage map
Another interesting data point from the study reveals how usage of the Tesla tracks across the U.S. According to Quantcast's data, California is the leading source of browser views at 66%, followed by Georgia at 9%, Texas at 8% and New York and Illinois at 5% each.
What's most interesting about Quantcast's data is that it exists at all. There are numerous laws on the books in various U.S. states prohibiting the use of television screens in cars while driving. So, yes, a touchscreen tablet-style dashboard isn't a television, but it could be reasonably argued that it might be just as distracting during web browsing sessions.
In California, the state with the most web browsing activity, according to the study, the law states:
However, the law makes exceptions for windshield and dashboard-mounted GPS devices and "systems designed to prevent the driver from viewing them." But neither of those exceptions describes the kind of in-dash touchscreen used in the Tesla.
In the next most popular web content viewing state in the study, Georgia, no such restriction exists. But in all the other states listed in the study, including Texas, Illinois, Washington, Ohio, New York, Washington, D.C., the laws regarding screens in cars are largely similar to those in California — no distracting screens allowed while driving.
Although the Tesla's dashboard screen does not have the ability to display web video, on Tesla'sown user forums, some owners of the vehicle openly admit that the vehicle's in-dash screen can indeed be distracting.
In response to the growing use of media-rich mobile devices, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released voluntary guidelines last year. The agency's guidelines recommend that vehicles be "stopped and in park" during situations involving "the display of certain types of text, including text messages, web pages, social media content."
Of course, the dashboard computer industry is still so young that we're likely to see even more guidelines crop up in the coming years. For now, we can only hope that the stats from Quantcast's study represent instances in which the vehicles were in park.
And while Quantcast's study is limited in size and duration, it nevertheless offers a hitherto unseen peek into how these new screens (including Apple's CarPlay and Ford's Sync) will really be used.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on

Monday, 31 March 2014

Build Your Own 'Flappy Bird' IRL With This DIY Kit

Flappy Bird: it's not just for phones anymore.
The mobile app phenomenon that ended abruptly in February has returned — but this time, in the form of a physical, do-it-yourself game kit.
Make Flappy Box is based on a prototype made by Arduino, an open-source, physical computing platform that aims to be affordable and accessible for anyone, regardless of their technical background. Other similar projects include a cardboard-box version of Super Mario Bros.
Make Flappy Box
"Technology has somehow trained us to take things as is, instead of asking the hows and whys," Fawn Qiu, who spearheaded the project, told Mashable. "I'm hoping to make technology more accessible through introducing electronics in a creative and fun way."
Users press one button to start the game and another button to control a character, as a continuously rolling background moves behind it. When the character hits an obstacle, the lid of the box closes and the game is over. As a default, the kit is stocked with a Flappy Birdbackground, but additional templates, such as a race car version, will be available on the Make Flappy Box website.
Qiu made the prototype right after Flappy Bird was removed from Apple's App Store, with the intention to empower people to create their own version of the game, and also so she could keep playing herself. Qiu drew inspiration from 1980s video games such as Frogger.
"The physical game is more intuitive and social. It makes the playing experience more approachable," she said. "It's no longer just one player and the phone, but people around you are also aware of the game which invites collaboration and curiosity."
The kit comes with a guide book, circuit board, and electronics pack that includes motors, a speaker and buttons to control the bird. It also comes with a construction pack, which includes items such as the background template and the box. Players can use the materials to make their own original creations if they get tired of the game. The open-source circuit-board design will be posted on code-sharing site GitHub.
Make Flappy Box's Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $5,000 of its $6,000 goal with four days to go as of press time. The game currently only exists as a prototype, but a final product will be made after the campaign ends. Qiu said a portion of the profits made from Make Flappy Box sales will go toward free engineering workshops for disadvantaged female high-school students in New York City.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Monday, 31 March 2014

Let's Get Weird: 9 Wacky Chrome Extensions You Need to Try

Google Chrome is the gift that keeps on giving.
The web browser comes with a host of extensions to customize your page down to the letter. Extensions are downloadable features that modify your Chrome page, making for the ultimate personalized Internet experience.
From eliminating words you don't want to see to adding pictures of Nicolas Cage everywhere, there are thousands of weird features available to download.
Here are 11 Google Chrome extensions you need to check out to believe.
  • Millenials

    1. Millennials, Begone!

    If you're tired of hearing the word "millennial," this extension is for you. It changes the word "millennial" on every webpage to "pesky whipper-snapper" instead.
  • Mustachio

    2. Mustachio

    A mustache enthusiast will appreciate Mustachio. The feature adds a thick black mustache to every photo on a website.
  • Ncage

    3. nCage

    If you go on the Internet and think, "Hm, I'm not seeing enough Nicolas Cage," this extension is here for you. The nCage will exchange every photo you see with an image of the actor.
    (If Nic Cage isn't your type, there's always the Hey Girl extension, which replaces every photo with a shot of Ryan Gosling.)
  • Unfriend

    4. Unfriend notifications

    For the Facebook-obsessed, this extension updates users every single time someone unfriends them on the social network. That's right, you'll get notified every time someone decides they could do without your status updates.
  • Nothing

    5. Nothing

    The Nothing extension literally does nothing. However, it's received 6454 reviews and currently has a five-star rating. Oh, Internet trolls like to have fun.
  • Cyrus

    6. No Miley Cyrus

    Maybe you can deal with millennials, but if you just can't stand Miley Cyrus, the Chrome gods heard your prayers. No Cyrus hides all mention and photos of the singer from your web pages, so you can comfortably surf a Hannah Montana-free zone.
  • Gender

    7. Jailbreak the Patriarchy

    Jailbreak the Patriarchy is a gender-bending feature that swaps every male or female phrase. "He" gets replaced by "she," "mother" gets replaced by "father," and so on. The extension's site lists this example: If you see the sentence "He loved his mother very much," it would instead read as "She loved her father very much."
    Nope, not confusing at all.
  • Doge

    8. So wow, much Doge

    Fans of the Internet meme can Doge-ify their websites. The addition will plop Doge photos and sayings such as "so wow" everywhere.
  • Google1

    9. Upside Down

    This extension is intended more for you to prank others than to use yourself (because...why would you want this?). Upside Down does just what it says, flipping over every website you open.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Anti-Social Networking App Helps You Avoid Friends You Don't Like


A new app claims to be the social network for the anti-social.
While most social media apps focus on helping you get closer to your friends, Cloak uses location data to make it easier for you to avoid your connections.
The app pulls in location information from your social networks to show you where friends are so you can avoid accidentally bumping into people you don't want to see.
Connect Cloak to Foursquare and Instagram and the app brings up a map displaying your location and the locations of friends who have checked in nearby. If there's someone you want to avoid, select "flag" and the app will alert you when that person gets within a certain radius of you. A half mile is the default radius but you can set it to be as small as one block or as big as two miles.
cloak app

Cloak's "antisocial networking" app will alert you when friends you don't want to see are nearby.
For now, the app only pulls in location data from Foursquare and Instagram, so it's only useful if you follow the people you're trying to avoid on these two networks. The developers say they are working on connecting the app to more services in the future, though Twitter will likely not be among them.
"The location data just isn't there," the company explains in their iTunes description. "Most users have it turned off and even when it's on, it's quite vague."
The app is the project of programmer Brian Moore and Buzzfeed's former creative director Chris Baker. This is not Baker's first venture into software for the anti-socially-inclined. Baker leftBuzzfeed in the fall to work on Rather, a Chrome extension that helps users block unwanted content in their Facebook feeds.
In an email to the Washington Post, Baker said: “I think we’ve seen the crest of the big social network … I think anti-social stuff is on the rise. You’ll be seeing more and more of these types of projects.”
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Have Known In My Teens

Most people learn time management in the hard way, working late nights to meet deadlines, etc.
Etienne Garbugli, product and marketing consultant shared the lessons he’d have known when he was starting into a presentation posted to SlideShare.
Here’s what presentation says:-
Time Management Hacks :-
1. There’s always time
Time is priorities.
2. “Only plan for 4-5 hours of real work per day”
Days always fill up.
3. “It’s normal to have days where you just can’t work and days where you’ll work 12 hours  straight.”
Work more when you are in the working zone.
Relax when you’re not.
4. “Your time is $1000/hour, and you need to act accordingly.”
Respect your time and
Make it respected.
5. Stop multi-tasking.
It merely kills your focus.
6. Set up a work routine and stick to it.
Your body will adapt.
7. We’re always more focused
and productive with limited time.
8. Work is the best way to start working.
Start with short tasks to get on the track.
9. “Doing is better than perfect.”
Work iteratively.
Expectations to do things perfectly are oppressing.
10. More work hours doesn’t mean more productivity.
Use constraints as opportunities.
11. “Separate thinking and execution to execute faster and think better.”
Separate strategic and brainless tasks to become more productive.
12. Keep the same context throughout the day
Switching between clients/projects is unproductive.
13. Work around procrastination.
Procrastinate between intense dashes of work.
14. No two tasks ever hold the same importance.
Always prioritize.
15. Always know the single(one) thing you need to do get done during the day.
16. Delegate and learn to make use of other people.
17. Turn the page on yesterday.
Only think about today and tomorrow.
18. Don’t let tasks go on indefinitely.
Set tasks for everything.
19. Set end dates for stressful and intense activities.
Everything ends at some point.
20. “Don’t trust your brain for your memory. Get reminder app for everything.”
Always take notes.
21. Write down anything that distracts you- new ideas, random thoughts or whatever. The point is , if you write them down, they’ll stop bubbling up.
22. Take breaks sometimes.

Posted By: Pawan Lubana on Tuesday, 31 December 2013

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