Apps Worth Considering

I came across three apps I thought worth sharing with you. Two are for both Mac and PC, and the last one for your iPhone or Blackberry.

The first app is f.lux. F.lux is an app that, quite simply, adjusts the light of your display to fit the light of the room your in. More specifically, it adjusts your display’s color temperature. What is color temperature? Borrowing from f.lux‘s FAQ page:

The term color temperature is a way to numerically describe how much red or blue light is illuminating a room. Color temperature is measured in Kelvins, and is determined by the kind of light you’re using.

Confusingly, warmer (more red) light sources are described in lower degrees Kelvin. Compared to indoor lighting, sunlight is cool – very blue. A candle is around 1800K, while a sunny day might be 6000K. An overcast day will seem more blue, so it might be around 7000K.

Most computer monitors display around 6500K. If you are using incandescent task lights behind your computer, those are around 3000K.

For you Macbook owners out there who already know your wonderful machines have their own built-in ambient light sensors, f.lux isn’t made to replace that function, but to actually enhance it:

The ambient light sensor measures the brightness of the light in your room and adjusts the brightness of your screen based on that. f.lux changes the color of your screen and warms it up according to the type of light you’re using and the time of day.

f.lux doesn’t use ambient brightness to adjust colors. You might be in a dark room with very cool light, you wouldn’t really want your monitor to look warm, but you would want your display to look dimmer. We’ve found that when your screen colors match the color of your ambient light correctly, you don’t need to adjust monitor brightness as much.

There are f.lux versions for Mac, PC, and even one for Linux which is nice. Of course, I think the best thing about f.lux is the price. It’s free. But you know what. It’s one that I would’ve given a couple of bucks for. ;)

Next on deck is Diigo. Diigo is a Firefox add-on I came across while searching for a web highlighter. I don’t know about you all, but I’m one of those folks who likes to highlight things I read (if you’ve borrowed a book from me, you probably know this already). This helps me out in both reminding me of the specifics about things in certain books, as well as helping me find them quicker when I need to search them out again. I’m no different when it comes to my web browsing habits. Diigo allows me to highlight things of interest to me on web pages in my Firefox web browser. “Will they be highlighted when I return to them the next time,” you ask? Yep. But it gets better. Diigo also allows me to add sticky notes to the page. I have the choice of making the sticky notes public or private. Staying on the theme of public and private, Diigo also allows collaborating. I can create a group and share things I come across and with friends or colleagues. Diigo requires you have an account (they have to be able to keep track of who’s highlighting what somehow), and the registration process is painless. There’s a lot more to Diigo you may want to check out for yourself. Lastly, since it’s Firefox add-on it’s not really OS specific, nor does it cost anything.

Lastly is a little iPhone app my buddy Elvis tipped me on (hat-tip his way) called WhatApp. WhatApp is a smart phone-to-smart phone messenger/chat application. The beauty in this app is that it allows free messaging between smart phones. This saves one a nice bit of pocket money over time, and that’s not so bad. :)

From what I’ve been able to glean from the site, WhatApp is currently geared towards iPhones and Blackberries with plans on adding more devices in the future. For those of you wondering if it works with the iPod Touch, the answer is yes. However, there are some things you need to be aware of. From their site:

You can use WhatsApp Messenger on iPod touch, but please be aware of the following caveats:

  • WhatsApp requires a functioning mobile telephone number during the signup process. This number would be used to send and receive WhatsApp messages to and from your contacts. A large number of our users utilize non-Smartphone mobile handsets in conjunction with WhatsApp Messenger on their iPod touch quite successfully.
  • Please be aware that an iPod touch turns off the WiFi radio when it is unplugged and in sleep mode (screen turned off). You will not receive new message notifications when your iPod touch is in this state. For the best experience, try to keep your iPod touch connected to power source as much as possible.
  • Finally, please make sure that friends and contacts you want to communicate with already exist in your iPod touch address book.

One last, but particularly important thing regarding roaming charges when traveling abroad:

When I travel abroad / overseas, will I be charged for data roaming?

Possibly. WhatsApp uses the same internet data plan that you use for web and email. If you would normally get data roaming charges when traveling abroad / overseas for email and web, WhatsApp would be no different. Of course WhatsApp would be free to use over a Wi-Fi connection. To confirm that your data roaming is disabled, go into iPhone Settings > General > Network > Data Roaming and make sure it is set to Off.

And don’t forget to set your WhatsApp status to “I am currently roaming abroad, will reply back when I am on Wi-Fi” — this way your friends will know why you are not answering right away :)

WhatApp cost .99 cents or 7SEK. I’m willing to be you’ll save that in SMS costs in the first few chat sessions.

Laterz. ;)

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