Unpaid Endorsements: My 4 Favorite iPhone Apps

By no means am I an iPhone expert, an App connoisseur, or a smart, capable person. However, I do have some super-helpful apps that I use on a daily basis that might be useful to you:

Beat The Traffic = Every single time I get in the car for my morning and evening commutes to and from Dallas, I check BTT. (Full Disclosure: I only have two or three possible routes — four or five if it’s absolutely ridiculous traffic.)

But the highly accurate red/orange/green road colors let me know which roads and intersections to avoid, and exclamation points highlight any accidents/major slowdowns. (You can report them as well.) I don’t really use any of the other features (daily alerts, etc.), but I’m sure they’re good.

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Gas Buddy = You might have a favorite gas station or one that you “know” is the cheapest around…but you can know where the cheapest gas prices are with this app.

One big button to hit for GPS-targeting your current location, or just type in a zip code. It’ll give you a pretty long list of area gas stations which you can sort by price or location. I remember my dad trying to remember all of the various gas prices in our neighborhood, and this app makes it so crazy easy. Technology is awesome.

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SoundHound = Driving. Great tune comes on radio that you don’t recognize. Tap to open SoundHound, tap to start “listening,” and it’ll name that tune in 10ish seconds. Read about the artist and then share what you’re listening to on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Also has the lyrics that will scroll along live with the radio, so it’s basically a karaoke app too.

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MLB Trade Rumors = I started reading this site online several years ago for the latest baseball news and rumors. It’s a freakin’ empire now, and the app has all the site content updated instantly — which is great for fantasy baseball dorks like me.

Editor’s Note: I was reminded by @GalloSays on Twitter (Thanks Steve!) that the actual app name is not “MLB Trade Rumors,” likely due to MLB copyright restrictions. In iTunes, look for “Baseball Trade Rumors.”

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What are YOUR favorite apps? I showed you mine, so show me yours (in the comments below)!

Unpaid Endorsement: Gillette Fusion

Been a while since I done did one of these, but this morning’s shave made it necessary.

I’d been a loyal Mach 3 Turbo user for many years, after an emergency switch from electric shaver to regular razor (thanks to a forgotten adapter on a trip to England).

And although I really haven’t loved any Fusion advertising (I respect, but I’m not a huge fan of Tiger Woods, Derek Jeter and those other dudes), several times I’ve read glowing reviews of the product. Somehow, the alleged superiority of the product seeped into my consciousness and I decided a month or so ago that I’d switch.

My father-in-law had a bunch of Fusion blades hanging around, so I splurged and got the actual razor a few days ago.

This morning, I gave myself a Top 10 All Time shave thanks to the Fusion. It “handles” differently than the Mach 3 Turbo, and even felt differently as it moved across my face.

Long story short: a very good shave, and since the price isn’t drastically different from the Mach 3 Turbo, I highly recommend it.

Unpaid Endorsement: IKEA

Yeah, I’m like ten years late on the IKEA bandwagon, I know. And this isn’t even my first purchase with everyone’s favorite Swedish make-it-yourself furniture folks.

But this weekend, my bride and I purchased three items that come highly recommended – for both building ease and functionality.

FINAL – No, not the last thing. This was the name of the two-headed stand-up lamp that now stands in the corner of our living room. Much cooler-looking and easier on the eyes than the ceiling fan lights.

LERBERG – Kind of a metal/mesh TV stand, now in our second bedroom/office. Perfect size – not too big, and has a bottom “shelf” for the cable box.

And the crown jewel, the POANG (there’s an umlaut over one of the vowels, can’t remember which) – a slightly springy (but not quite a rocker) chair with comfy cotton upholstery, which is removable and washable. (Excellent for cat people.)

I was able to assemble each of these pieces in less than a half-hour, using only amazing Allen wrench technology. And I must say, I’m kind of proud of myself – it’s as close to actual carpentry as I’ll probably ever get.

Unpaid Endorsement: Buffalo Wild Wings Cafe

Shannon and I were driving along Belt Line Road in Addison this past Saturday night, cruising the restaurant-heavy avenue for a not-too-expensive, not-too-dressy but still decent place for dinner.

We went past the busiest section, then did a U-turn when we saw a wings place.  We pulled into the parking lot, but it looked like a super-heavy college/high school crowd.  Us being old fogies, we remembered that we saw a Buffalo Wild Wings Cafe further up and headed a few blocks down.

It wasn’t crowded at all, so we got a nice booth near the humongous big screen (showing the Rangers, getting beat again).

We each got an adult beverage (beer for me, mojito for Shannon), and got 12 BBQ wings, 12 medium wings, and an order of mini-corn dogs that was freakin’ awesome.

Crowd was a mix of families, dudes going out to watch the Mavs or Stars, and more of those young’uns out for a good time.

Service was good and attentive.  Manager checked on us twice.

They had outdoor seating, too–maybe next time.

Unpaid Endorsement: Dogpile.com

So many people use Google for online searches, it’s become a verb.

“I’ll go Google that up.”

“You really ought to Google it.”

“Google you, you Googling GoogleGoogler!”

Et cetera.

But for me, my go-to search engine is Dogpile.com.

Why?  Simple.  It utilizes your almighty Google, but it also checks Yahoo, MSN LiveSearch and Ask.com.

To me, that’s Google-Plus.

It has most of the same functionalities – Web search, Image search, News search, Yellow Pages, White Pages, blah blah.

And maybe it appeals to me that it’s kind of an unknown quantity, an underdog, a rebel.

Anyway, next time you’re about to search for something on the InterWebNetTubes, maybe you should consider “Dogpiling” it.  That sounds a bit more fun anyway.

Unpaid Endorsement: Neti pots

About a year ago, someone sent me a link to an online video under the auspices of “hilariousness.” (Editor’s Note: Not an exact quote.)

It was an ad/demo for a product that basically looked like a miniature tea pot, but the demonstrator woman stuck the spout in one nostril, leaned her head to the side, and poured the water in–and then naturally, it came out the other nostril.

This product–which I purchased 11 months later–is apparently very popular now. Mostly used by practitioners of yoga, the purpose is to cleanse the sinuses with salt water (the product I bought came with small packets of salt/powder).

In an effort to stop snoring AND to get rid of some of the gunk where the back of my nose meets the top of my throat, I bought this product. And I use it almost every night. And darned if I don’t feel better afterwards.

It washes out your sinuses, and after pouring this stuff through each nostril, I blow my nose and am able to breathe normally.

Allegedly, this stuff can help people with allergies, asthma, frequent colds/sinus infections, stuff like that.

Back bloggin’ because of the public outcry (MySpace blog from 2.26.08)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Back bloggin’ because of the public outcry
Current mood: sweaty

Once more into the fray, or at least into the dank basement that is my mind.

Ralph Nader is back. Oh, Ralph. I feel bad for him. All of the groundswell of support that Obama is getting–that’s what Ralph needed four and eight years ago. I think it comes down to charisma. Ol’ Ralphie Boy has some great ideas that people should be passionate about, but his personality doesn’t inspire. Bummer.

Random endorsement: Twix Java. This is one of the greatest things that ever went into my mouth. You can’t go wrong with a chocolate cookie covered with coffee caramel and milk chocolate. You just can’t.

I hate 95% of all Lexus drivers. I think that when you purchase a Lexus (which, from what I hear, is just a souped-up top-of-the-line Toyota sedan), that “I paid an exorbitant amount for a car, so now I own the road and can drive like sh*t” feeling is a freebie they throw in at the dealership. To paraphrase David Cross: You don’t have to be a Lexus driver to be an a$$hole, but you do have to be an asshole to be a Lexus driver.

Random endorsement: “We Need Girlfriends” on YouTube. A DIY sitcom that NBC allegedly bought and will produce.

I’ve been jotting down notes for another spam-focused blog. Just waiting for the furor over my last one dies down before writing it.

Once again, I have contracted Fantasy Baseball Fever. The only cure? Geeking out and making up extensive lists of players to prepare for the annual drafts of my two leagues. Luckily, Shannon is very cool about this hobby/obsession.

Random endorsement: Board-certified doctors. They’re the only ones I will go to or recommend. And yes, I do become a bit of an academic snob when researching a new physician. I’m not 100% keen on seeing someone from the Universidad de Tijuana or Southeastern Montana College of Medicine.

Over the past several years, I’ve become a boxing fan. And although last Saturday’s Klitschko/Ibragimov heavyweight bout was an incredible snore, I really like how Klitschko (who won) is trying to unify the FOUR different heavyweight belts. For non-boxing fans, there are at least four major sanctioning organizations within the sport, all of whom have title belts. Not to mention the “unofficial” Ring Magazine championships. Klitschko’s win gave him two belts. I really hope his matches for the other two actually happen, and are infinitely more interesting than this first match.

Yesterday it was 80 degrees and sunny here. We even did some brainstorming outside in the courtyard at work this afternoon. Today, it’s like 54 and sunny. Some might cringe at the thought of a 26-degree drop. But I’ll take it any day over snow, slush, ice and temps in the 20s or 30s.

I had my every-eight-week Remicade treatment yesterday. Basically, I sit there for three hours or so while this monoclonal antibody is infused via IV. I’ve been going for these infusions for several years, and it’s usually fine. Sometimes I’ll sleep, or watch TV if they have it, or read, or pretend to do work that I’ve brought. Sometimes, I’ll share illness stories with the other patients (if there are any). Yesterday’s companions were both Rheumatoid Arthritis patients–one very nice 70-year-old lady with more metal joint replacements than she could count, the other a 50ish woman who used to live in Hawaii but was driven away by the humid climate (and its effects on her physically).

Speaking of medicine, I’m switching gastroenterologists. I do like the guy I’ve been seeing since I moved to Texas, but two straight horrible “customer service” issues have sent me packing. When you call in a prescription refill, you don’t get a nurse or the doctor. You get a receptionist or one of the various customer service reps at this large practice. And twice in the past several months, I’ve had to make multiple calls to both the pharmacy and the office (who was to blame) and basically missed doses of my medication because the promise that “we called it in” was either a lie or accidentally untrue. I need my meds, and I need a direct line to somebody who says they’ll do something and gets it done. So goodbye, G.I.

Enough serious crap. How about “The Moment of Truth” on Fox? Last night, I didn’t see the whole thing, but apparently a contestant admitted (right in front of her husband) that she would leave him if her ex-boyfriend would take her back. Which brings up the ultimate question: what’s worth more, your marriage or the $25,000 she stood to lose by just quitting? Apparently for her, it was the cash.
[Editor’s Note: Hi, Editor here. I just Wikipedia’d up the show, and it seems that she did admit that she’d leave her hubby for the ex. In a fun twist, she ended up losing $100,000 because she lied when she said that yes, she thought she was a good person. Awesome.]

Tonight is American Idol, which is nowhere near as fun without all the crazy people.

End transmission. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. If not, you can get your money back by calling 1-900-GET-A-LIF.

Unpaid endorsement: Fighting Chance (MySpace blog from 12.7.07)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Unpaid endorsement: Fighting Chance
Current mood: pleased

Once in a while, I’m going to use my blog to sing the praises of a product or service or whatever – something or someone that I’ve had a very very very positive experience with in my life.

FIGHTINGCHANCE.COM is an awesome site that WILL save you money when you’re buying a car. (If you don’t save money, you didn’t follow instructions.)

I’ve saved at least $2,000 on car purchases thanks to the site.

Fighting Chance is both an information resource and a smarter process for buying a car. They have tons of information on all kinds of new cars, and for only $40 or so (and $10 per additional set), you’ll get everything about the make and model, unadvertised deals, and most importantly, the actual dealer invoice price. (That’s what the dealer paid to the manufacturer for the car.)

The concept is that if you follow the process (briefly described below), you should never pay more than $500 over dealer invoice price – which is usually a whole lot less than the sticker price.

The process:
–First, don’t ever sit down with a salesman at the dealership. Maybe go to test drive, but other than that, do NOT discuss numbers or give them information.
–Order (and read) the information packet about the car(s) you are considering.
–Create a fax using the template they provide.
(It basically says who you are, the car you’re looking to buy, that you know how much it really costs, the range you’re willing to pay, etc.)
–Send out the fax to as many dealers as you want – or as far as you’d drive to buy a car.
–Make sure to send it out on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, first thing in the morning, during the last week of the month. (Slowest times for dealers.)
–Wait for the phone calls to start.
–When a dealer calls, get their price and tell them you’ll call back.
–Take calls all day, then call them all back and ask if they can meet or beat the lowest price quote. If they can’t/won’t, then goodbye.
–Call the winning dealer and tell them when you’re coming in to buy.
–Before you sign on the dotted line, CALL FIGHTING CHANCE. They will tell you if you’re getting a good deal.

There are slightly different processes for buying or leasing – but they walk you through it.

If you want to avoid the typical car-buying process AND save money, then try this.

Or go to the dealership and sit there, waiting for the salesman to “talk to his manager” 54 times.