Sunday, May 30, 2010

iPhone Apps: MeeGenius

An app I recently purchased has become one that I use on a daily basis. As always, Natasha and I are always on the lookout for good apps for Children. MeeGenius has a collection of illustrated stories with audio and highlighted text.

At first, Charlotte had little interest. If she couldn't press a button or things weren't moving fast enough, she wanted to see something else. However, after a few weeks, she's been coming to me almost every day asking for a story.

The stories are short and sweet, most having between 10 and 14 "pages", which as you can see are mainly pictures. The audio is what I love most about this app. The words are clearly spoken, and each word is highlighted as it goes along.

Also interesting is that many of the stories are noted as being "retold", and it seems that some of them have a slightly modified ending, but it adds to the fun.


The Three Little Pigs.

This is one such story. Very well read, and at the end, the pig in the brick house befriends the wolf and teaches him how to eat many other delicious foods (besides pork, I presume). I'm not sure but I have a feeling the original story didn't end in a buffet.


The Lion and the Mouse.


Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The illustrations are really well done, and actually add much humour to the stories if you watch closely.

The MeeGenius app proves that quality apps exist and provide a great value for $1.99.

For more info, see their website and follow them on Twitter.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

William: Two Months

William is two months old today! Time is going by quickly and he's getting to be a big kid already, over 14 pounds. He's also smiling a lot these days, not shown in the photos shown here.


William in his cute sports suit.


William enjoying the swing from time to time.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday, Charlotte!

The day has finally arrived! Our little girl is two years old today! Guess she's not so little anymore.


Charlotte's two!!

We just got back from a two-day trip to the Seattle area where we took Charlotte swimming four times at the hotel, to the Seattle Children's Museum, and a few other places around town.

This morning we opened Charlotte's gifts. You can see all her gifts except for a few, below. Also, some of our family and friends sent money and bought clothes and other gifts. Thank-you from us and Charlotte for each and every one of them.


Many of Charlotte's gifts.

Charlotte also got a "Little Tikes Princess Cozy Coupe" from Auntie Stephanie, Auntie Susanna, and us!


Little Tikes Princess Cozy Coupe.

We've unpacked everything and Charlotte has been playing with all of them. The car might be a little advanced for her right now but she has lots of room to grow into it and learn how to drive it well. In any case, she loves playing with it, and the toy cell phone it comes with.

We had icecream cake for dessert. Charlotte even managed to blow a candle out on her own!


The icecream log cake!


Natasha helping Charlotte blow out the candles.

After bedtime tonight, a whole new year begins!

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Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Busy Saturday

Today was a fun but very busy day. It began with a trip to YVR for William's NEXUS interview. Despite their many questions and his inability to answer, they still approved his application.

Then, off we went to Stanley Park for an afternoon of enjoying the great weather. On the way, Natasha suggested we go to Park Royal to look for some rollerblades for me. It just so happened that we parked near Five Guys burgers and decided to check it out. Good move! The burgers are huge and tasty, the fries are done to perfection and literally overflowing their containers. They even have self serve peanuts if you want to munch while you wait. Of course, we took photos!


Even I had trouble biting into this burger!


Natasha with the "little" burger, as the menu calls it.

Then, off to Stanley Park to burn off the calories we just consumed.


Natasha and the stroller with Charlotte and William.


Andrew sporting his new Rollerblades!

We had a good skate and went almost the entire way around. Charlotte got a chance to play at a playground, and by the time we headed home, everyone was worn out.

Another successful Saturday with the family!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Northern Voice, 2010: The Review

On Saturday, I attended Northern Voice 2010, a Personal Blogging and Social Media Conference held at the University of BC. «street view»


I met up with @nickamado, coworker and social media enthusiast, prior to the keynote, and set off to take in some new ideas, interesting stories and concepts, and plenty of geekiness.

The 45-minute keynote speech flew by, but mainly because I was taking in my surroundings and watching things with interest. Most people had laptops, many iPhones, and even a few iPads (the first time I've seen one). What were they doing with them? Tweeting madly, for the most part, for any Twitter user or follower who might care to read snippets of everything coming out of the speaker's mouth. I'm fairly certain that some people were so focused on their electronics that they didn't ever see the presenters.


The Atrium of the Life Sciences Centre

So, off to the first session regarding whether or not blogging is dead. Obviously a popular topic, as the room was packed and we sardined into a few remaining seats, surrounded by more people with laptops and iPhones, ready to tweet even the smallest tidbit. Actually, this was probably the most interesting session, with three presenters giving opinions on blog trends, and a lot of feedback, questions, and comments from the listeners. The general consensus? Blogs are alive and well. Despite all of the micro-blogging going on these days, your standard blog is higher quality, and maintains a solid history of what you've written.

Lunch was buffet style tortillas with a variety of things to fill them with. Although simple, it's obvious that quality was taken into consideration, and I really couldn't have been happier with it. We sat on the grass outside on a nearby hill with a bunch of conference attendees. Pretty sure the tweeting continued there too.

Session two: Coping with Social Media. How to deal with the influx of email, tweets, Facebook stuff, news readers, blogs, etc. Most of the information given out here was common sense. Use lists and a good reader application for Twitter, clean up your Facebook, and use a quality news reader that lets you organize all of your feeds well. Oh, and add email filters until they're coming out of your ears. Everyone's goal for the year: getting your email inbox down to zero. I dream of that day. The venue for session two was a large auditorium with excellent seating, power plugs for laptops, and microphones all around for easy question asking. This played a big factor in staying put for session three.


Now this is a nice auditorium!

Session three, in the same location, was the "Uses & Misuses of Social Location Sharing Sites". How far is too far when it comes to telling people where you are? The panel had many interesting things to say, but the big question that really remained unanswered in the end was: What is the Matrix? Why do people want to share their location? What are the benefits and where is the value in it? And further, what are the dangers? It's a whole new area of social media development, and it will be interesting to see where it leads.

After session three, I decided to head out to take care of other Saturday business like playing with my kids! Anyway, session four, "Blogging the Parenthood Experience" was one I could skip. I have growing concerns over the (lack of) quality on many "Mommy" blogs (if any of your posts have more than 30 exclamation marks, this might be you) and it's likely that session does a world of good for many family bloggers.

Conclusion

For anyone interested in learning more about social media, or wanting to get a better feel for its uses, maybe make connections with others in the same industry, this type of conference is really valuable. To get real value from the conference, one should attend both days, I think. The whole thing is very efficiently run, and I saw no sign of any problems. Each session has four options to choose from, so there's likely something for everyone, all the time. Overall, it's a fun event to spend your day at, and to really beef up your tweeting skills!

#nv10

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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, 2010


Natasha, Mother's Day, 2010

Happy Mother's Day to my great wife and mother of two, Natasha! Thanks for making our family so great!

Also, Natasha and I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to both of our Mom's. Thanks for all you've done for us!

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Thursday, May 06, 2010

Pics Of The Kids

We've continued to take as many photos as we can of the kids, and here are a few good ones we want to share. Watch for the April photo album coming sometime soon.


Charlotte, the hat girl!


A nice close-up of William.


William swaddled and ready for bed!


Charlotte with her friends, Arianna
and Phillip on their kid quad!

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

iCarc: The Carcassonne Companion

My new iPhone application, "iCarc: The Carcassonne Companion" launched today on the iTunes app store. I've been working on it for quite a while during my spare time, and it has finally paid off.


iCarc is a companion to the board game, Carcassonne, a tile laying game where each player in turn chooses a tile from a bag and plays it. The companion lets you track which tiles are left to be played by having a list of all tiles at the start, and removing them from the list as they are selected.

  

You can read more about the app on my (also new) official page, http://www.andrewhoyer.com

NOTE: As of May 4, 2010, this app has been removed from sale. It will return shortly, and an announcement will be made at that time.

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