Want an app to help make reading Sheet Music easier?

Really well done review! The app looks interesting, but seems to still have bugs that need improving

iPad & Technology in Music Ed

Notezilla logoNotezilla – (READ TO THE END FOR UPCOMING FEATURES!)

We provide high quality, interactive sheet music – synced to real recordings.

There it is, the simple idea behind this music app.

The short version of this post is that Notezilla provides a way for us to see beautifully rendered sheet music and at the same time listen to a high quality recording of that music performed by actual musicians. There are a few nifty tools to help us study that sheet music while being able to listen to it.

Let’s see why we need an app like this…

FACTS: we can currently…

  1. LISTEN to RECORDED MUSIC – We already have an amazing amount of recorded music to listen to at our fingertips from top notch, quality performing groups – I have fallen in love with Spotify for this!
  2. SEE SHEET MUSIC – Apps like ForScore, UnRealBook and GigBook allow us to have…

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Reaper Mac (iOS) Application Review

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Do magical creatures and worlds, mystical monsters, and flashy sword moves ring your fancy?  Then Reaper is the game for you.  In this game you play as the Black Swordsman on a mission to kill as many slimes as you possibly can!

Offerings:

  • Countless quests and dialog options that help you to move forward and make your own decisions
  • Skill points upon leveling up that can be allocated to the skill of your choice
  • Accessories to upgrade your character

Unfortunately, this game is only free up to level 10, which is a bit of a bummer.  On the brightside, however, it takes quite a while to get up to that point.  This isn’t an easy game – at least not for me.  Shall we start with the main menu options?

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Now, I have to admit, when I first downloaded this, I didn’t read the description.  If I had, I would’ve seen that it was only free up to level 10 and this page wouldn’t have surprised me.  There are three different editions of the game, each having more features than the last.  It’s like pre-ordering a game and getting all the extras.  I didn’t take a look at how much it costs to download, but then again, I haven’t reached level 10 either.

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The main controls were really straightforward.  I loved how simple the menu was – I didn’t have to hunt around for any options.

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One feature of this game that is pretty interesting is leaderboards – you’re competing against a wide array of other people!  I didn’t see if there was any reward for doing well, but if you’re a competitive gamer, this would definitely be appealing for you.  From my perspective, I see these numbers and go “that’s nice….I won’t be getting there anytime soon” and just ignore it until I’m a higher level.

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The one thing I really enjoyed about this game was the initial art.  The main page and the introduction have such vibrant greens and other colors – it’s really pleasing to the eyes.  I loved how the art was done.  It looks soft, but still really nice.  It was a great way to be introduced into the game.

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One thing that struck me as odd, but intriguing, was how quickly the atmosphere of the game changed from the introduction to the actual gameplay. The game starts off bright and cheerful, but as soon as the tutorial level begins, it’s dark and somewhat creepy. It was a complete 180 from what I expected after watching the initial art slides fly by.

Ah, gameplay.  I really expected a lot from this game just based on the quality of the introductory art.  I was a bit disappointed at the choppy controls.  They were far more sensitive than they needed to be.  To charge attack left or right was so simple to mistake with just walking.  I swear I spent half the time trying to attack air rather than actually walking through the scenery.

The character, however, is adorable.  His gigantic head and the sword that is larger than his entire body gave it a very ‘chibi’ feel.  The colors of the background were pretty as well.  I loved how the neon colors were so vibrant that they actually seemed to be glowing against the more subdued colors of the background.

The first level, as mentioned, it a tutorial.  it walks you through  the basics of gameplay and allows you a simple level to adjust to the controls.  I felt as though I needed longer, but that was just because the controls seemed a tad too sensitive to me. Each glowing bubble provides a hint on how to do a new move, and there is enough room in between each bubble to practice the moves.  One good thing is that while the bubbles always open the hints, even if you’ve already read them, you’ll still be able to move around in the background.  This game doesn’t do what most others do and freeze the game just for the hint, it allows you to practice and maneuver the character while viewing the hint.

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One of the big selling features of the game is the ability to upgrade the accessories of your character.  In order to do so, you have to collect little gold coins.  While this task is simple in theory, in practice it is much harder.  For instance, when you destroy a ‘gold pot’ and the gold comes pouring out, it doesn’t just sit on the ground, it doesn’t just go in one direction…no, these little nuggets of goodness go flying everywhere! Up, down, left, right, you name it, they do it.  Oh, and I should probably add, they bounce.  They eventually bounce offscreen if you aren’t fast enough to catch them – and many times you aren’t.  I found that it was difficult to collect enough gold to really buy useful accessories, but that also could be to lack of level and experience.

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There were a wide variety of items that were available for purchase.  What is also nice is the fact that you can increase certain stats; health, stamina, etc, by just leveling up and gaining ‘skill points’.  For example, I increased my health once, and it went from 100 to 118.  Leveling up does take a while though, at least in my experience, so spend those points wisely.

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I love how the story line allows you to chose two sides.  You can either be a jerk or a nice guy, to put it bluntly.  I love that you’re not completely stuck in a mold, however, you don’t have complete free-will either.  Each character you interact with gives you an array of options that dictates how you will end up playing and how the storyline will progress.

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Winning battles as you travel to the next city is how you level up and earn skill points and gold to spend on attributes and accessories for your character.

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 8.30.58 PMThe character itself will auto attack when you are close enough to a gold pot or an enemy, which builds up these little gold skulls at the top of the screen.  These can be used to do more powerful manual attacks, of which there are a few kinds.  There is the typical left and right slash with the sword, then there is the jumping up and slamming the sword into the ground attack, and the final is in the air, you can spin around in a giant circle of death with the sword.

Levels aren’t overly long – just enough to spend about 5-10 minutes of real focus time, if that.  This game is designed to allow you to play for a bit, then go back to whatever you needed to be doing.

 

I give this game a 6/10.

I wasn’t enamoured with how the character was controlled and how sensitive the movements were, nor was I loving how many bad guys were congregated in a single area.  It’s a great game to pass the time, but it’s just not the one for me.  I wouldn’t buy the expansion to go beyond level 10.

However, that said, this game is really well made.  The graphics are well done and I couldn’t find any bugs – their software team did a great job smoothing out all the seams.  Kudos to the team for pushing out a good game and a quality game.

 

Infection 2 iOS Application

IMG_2152 Infection 2.  What better way to pass the time than killing the entire world population with a widespread disease?  Couldn’t get better, right?  What’s even better is that this game was popular enough initially to warrant a second version!

Okay, okay.  So you have a basic idea of the game, but what is it really?  Well, it’s simple.  The entire premise of the game is to design a disease that will hit the entire world and be able to spread through different environments and survive.  Now think about this… There are approximately 7.5 billion – that’s right, billion – people on this planet and in this game you have to get them all.  That means you need to consider things like infection methods – how it is going to get transported, how visible it is – they’re gonna develop a cure at some point, and how effective it is at killing – since that is the real goal. This game requires strategic planning and quick actions to win, which makes it a fun challenge to pass the time.

Offerings:

This game is just a unique thing in itself.  It isn’t a FPS, nor is it a RPG, it’s in a class of it’s own.  This game includes:

  • The ability to choose difficulty.  There are three options: easy, medium, and hard.  I have to say though, there are some levels where even easy has me about pulling my hair out!
  • Challenges… Oh the challenges.  The goal isn’t always kill everyone in whatever timeframe you want.  Sometimes you have to do it in under 700 days, sometimes it’s infect everyone within 300.  These challenges are designed to keep you on your toes.
  • The ability to target whatever country you want first.
  • And finally, the most important feature, the ability to evolve your disease however you want to better infect the world population.

I was a bit skeptical about this game, I have to admit.  I thought it’d be another boring game, with crappy controls. I was definitely wrong.  The first day I tried it, I played for 2 hours straight! IMG_2153The game has so many different levels, and you can replay them whenever you’d like.  It starts you off really simple, just getting you used to the controls and what strategies work best, then tosses you off the cliff and hopes you’ll fly.  It’s a whirlwind!  The main menu definitely has the ‘toxic’ vibe.  With the red colors, the hexagon shaped buttons – you really feel like you’re working in some sort of top secret laboratory. IMG_2154 The map on this game is detailed.  It’s like looking at a satellite view of the world without the clouds.  I like that they put the white lines between each country – I wouldn’t be able to tell what was what without them.  It’s also great since they put the pictures of what types of port each one has.   Airports and Seaports are not listed on every country, so that has to be taken into account when planning your strategy.  My personal policy is to pick a country that has both, that way it will spread by boat and by air.  The routes that places take also change, so be sure to keep an eye on where the boats and planes are going as the game progresses. screen568x568 (2) At this point you’re probably thinking, “Okay, that’s nice and all, but what about points systems, how do I get stuff to infect people?”.  The answer is in the picture above!  The red and yellow symbols appear as a country is being infected.  You’ll have to be quick and collect them, otherwise you don’t get the points.  The blue symbol is our enemy.  When the disease spreads to a certain amount of people, they naturally start to look for a cure.  Clicking on the blue symbol will slow the cure search down a bit (see the percentage right above the World button in the bottom righthand corner). IMG_2155 All the points you earn must be rationed between three categories; Transmission, Symptoms, and Resistances.  Transmission is how the disease will be spread to the entire world population.  Each method focuses on a different category.  For example, some are better in humid environments with a poor population and some are better in cold environments with a rich population.  You really have to take into account what regions are critical to hit before selecting.  The bird symbols allows transfer across borders, the rat allows it on ships, and the squiggly lines (breath) allows transfer on planes.  Each serves their own purpose, though some do increase the visibility more than others.  It is absolutely key to keep visibility down, since the more visible you are, the more likely the countries are to ban together and search for a cure.  If cure reaches 100%, the round ends and you lose. IMG_2156 Symptoms start off innocent – a mild cough, a sneeze here and there, maybe a bit of a fever.  However, as you progress and select more symptoms, the lethality increases.  Some examples include seizures, respiratory issues, andy my personal favorite – paranoia. IMG_2157 The Resistances field should be used carefully.  This is the section where you say “it does better in warm” or “it does better in cold”.  If you save enough points, you can choose both, but they get a bit point pricey.  This section is also where you are able to slow down the cure hunt.  The row of three in the picture each contributes to slowing down the hunt or stopping it altogether.

I give this application a 9/10

Overall, it’s really well done.  I’ve had an absolute blast playing this game, and will actually keep doing so – since I can’t even beat level 4!  It’s a fantastic strategy game that makes you think and plan without realizing it.

My Diet Diary iOS Application Review

download (1) My Diet Diary – the name really says it all in this case.  This application is designed to help a person balance eating healthy and counting calories with exercising at regular intervals. It really doesn’t matter what your goal is, whether you want to gain weight, lose weight, or even just maintain your current weight, this app is designed to help.  The goal of the app is to help you reach your goal without taking an unhealthy path.

Offerings:

You might ask “what makes this application different from any other weight management app out there?”  For starters, this application is completely free.  It isn’t one of those applications where you start out using features, then have to pay for more.  No siree, it’s completely and totally free.  All features come installed when the application is installed on your iOS device. It can also boast about having these lovely features:

  • Simple UI for easy data entry
  • Track water intake
  • Can connect to activity tracking devices – Fitbit, Jawbone Up, etc
  • Provides daily health tips and reminders
  • Future planning – will have a chart to track your current trajectory to see if you will make it to your goal.

photo 1 (3) I downloaded this originally to try and track what my exercise to food intake ratio was, and despite having a slender frame, I was shocked.   I was drinking far more water than necessary for my size, eating barely enough, and exercising even less.  Let’s face it, I was majorly out of shape and this app was just the thing I needed to help me realize it.

The homepage of this app was amazing, once I had everything set up.  It displayed a line that filled as my daily calories filled and also showed me the daily budget based on my current weight and goals.  I was able to enter calories and I would get the nutrition facts – protein, fiber, etc – that went with them so I could track that as well. The clean, simple structure of the navigation and application allow entries to be easily made no matter which page you are on. (see below) photo 3 This menu is located at the bottom right-hand corner.  It’s a ‘+’ button normally, and while obvious, doesn’t take away from the aesthetics of the rest of the application.  Clicking any one of these bubbles will take you to an entry page that will allow you to look up the amount of calories burned or eaten depending on the bubble option chosen. photo 4 The side menu appeared when I swiped the left of the screen.  This included a wide variety of charts, the main diary, and community chat rooms.  I loved the chat rooms because they were great for finding support to keep motivated. photo 2 (2) The only negative thing I really had about the app was the notifications. I love letting my apps notify me when they are ready to update or be interacted with, but this one sometimes got annoying.  Every night at 8pm sharp, it reminds me to fill in my information.  Every single night.   This I wouldn’t mind, since I usually need some sort of reminder to add in dinner.  However, when it also pairs that with the occasional 10 reminders in one day, it drives me absolutely crazy!

I give this application a 8/10

Overall, I find the application to be extremely helpful.  It’s like having a buddy working with me to keep me on track and honest.  I love being able to just go in really quick, and with a couple button presses, add all my information for the day.  It’s simple and very user friendly.  I actually struggle to come up with many negatives for this application.

How to Train Your Dragon: Rise of Berk iOS Application Review

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Have you ever dreamed of having the chance to own your own dragon?  How about multiple dragons?  Hiccup and the gang certainly achieved that dream in How to Train Your Dragon: Rise of Berk for the iOS App Store.

Join Hiccup, Toothless, and friends as they try to fight back against a mysterious dragon-egg stealer to protect their dragons and their home.  Embark on missions, search for remaining eggs, hatch and raise dragons, and even train them to help with the household chores!  There are no limits to what these critters can do in this game.  From the lovely 3D styled character graphics to the main and side plotlines, nothing was missed.

Offerings:

So, you’re probably sitting here saying, “Ok….it’s a game, what’s so cool about it?  There are a million like it”.  What’s so cool?  Well I will tell you what’s cool!

  • 12 of the main dragons featured in the movie are included.  That means Toothless, Stormfly, Hookfang, Barf and Belch, and Meatlug will be making appearances if you save up enough coins to get them!

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  • 18 different dragon species from the movies, from the Monstrous Nightmare to the Changewing, they’re all there!  Each dragon makes a unique noise when selected and are able to collect different amounts of supplies.
  • Character missions and side-quests.  Join the main gang as they try to discover what’s happening around them, all the while, dealing with the citizens of Berk

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  • 25 islands to unlock and inhabit – expand your habitat and get more vikings and dragons

I have to admit…I wasn’t even going to touch this game when it first came out.  I have had my fare share of experiences with movie-based games, and I can honestly say that they usually are low-quality and badly done.  However, when my fiance came running up to me to show me the “cool dragon” he found, I was instantly enamoured.  It combines the repetitive and time-based aspects of games like Tribez and Farmville, with adventure quests, which makes it a bit more than just your everyday game.

Upon starting out, you’re immediately tossed into the tutorial, whether you like it or not.  This is actually good since it lays out all the important features of the game so you don’t end up floundering about later on.  The buttons are easy to find:

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You have the fish and wood buttons – which are important since you need wood to upgrade viking structures and train your dragon to a higher level, and fish to level the dragon up.  I liked the layout for the dragon menu because it was easy to find the buttons needed – I didn’t have to spend forever going through menus just to send my dragon fishing.  It’s more of a “tap tap done!” ordeal than anything.

The game relies heavily on Hiccup and Toothless – especially since without them, you’d not be getting any dragons.  However, the other characters are just as important.  Each of the supporting characters offer missions and dialog to keep the game going.  Which I found to be quite entertaining, especially when you learn the reasons why each of them has to have their houses rebuilt.

One of my favorite features is that, while some of the normal dragons go on sale in the dragon book menu, if you wait long enough, you don’t have to buy them.  What I mean by that is that there will be ‘special offers’ for rare dragons that you spend money on, but if you are patient and level up toothless enough, he will eventually be able to search for them for free.  This can’t be said for the main character’s dragons though.  Those are a one time deal.

Bottom line, if you’re patient enough, and want to wait, you can get anything in this game without spending a dime.  Well…maybe the data cost, but nothing in game!

 

Overall, I give this an 8/10

It’s a fun app that is a perfect way to kill time.  It’s well done, and I haven’t found any major bugs in it.

 

Botangle Website Review

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Botangle is a new wesite that is attempting to take the market in online learning.  They want to build a community that encompases those who want to learn and further themselves and quality educators who have a passion for sharing their knowledge and experience.

There are a large number of learning sites currently populating the web, but this website seems to want to set itself apart from them.  From it’s modern look, to the ability to hold live chats with experts in a variety of fields, the company is trying to hit all the desires and needs of its audience.

One benefit of this site is that is doesn’t limit itself to one category.  There are a large variety of categories, ranging from writing to biology to bitcoin.  If you need it, they probably have an expert in it.  It’s exciting to see such a wide variety right away, especially since this is a new site and there is a huge likelihood the list will expand exponentially as the site grows.

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Current Categories Available

 

Offerings:

This website is definitely trying to stand out from the crowd.  From the look and feel to the information provided, they really want to shine.  That said, they have a few features that seem quite useful;

  • Tie-ins to common social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Potentially useful articles containing study tips, how to get through school while pinching pennies, etc.
  • Teacher-student shared whiteboards to encourage collaboration and help engage both parties
  • Webcam lessons to create the ‘visual classroom effect’
Botangle Homepage

Botangle Homepage

First impressions are what sets things apart from the run-of-the-mill standards.  This site definitely gives off a good first impression.

Immediately I was drawn to how modern the site looked.  It uses a more simplistic, minimalist style and fun colors that encourage a fun learning environment.  It’s critical to use a layout and color scheme that appeals to the target audience, and I have to say, they seem to be spot on.

The page has two images located behind the search box.  Now, if that was a scrolling image that allowed you to view different items as you scrolled up or down, it wouldn’t be a bit issue.  But, the images used look to be too large/separated and they seem too disjointed.

On the page, if you hover over the main options, like “Search Experts”, the icons don’t just highlight to show their new state, they rotate.  I thought this was a fun addition.

A big plus is that if you let the company know they have a visual bug, or any bug I’d think, on the page, they fix it ASAP.  I reported a few issues with the CSS layout and they were fixed within two days.  Those things are no longer issues.

Another plus is that the flow of the site is logical.  It’s easy to find information without being overloaded in non-relevant information.  the flow is simple and it is designed in a way to get you to your goal efficiently and quickly.

On the negative end, some of their tutoring prices are a bit expensive.  I tutored in college and only changed $10 an hour, these are sometimes over $50.  Much of the intended audience will be struggling to afford even an hour of that, let alone more.  You are able to view a list of tags of topics the person is familiar with, as well as view their availability calendar and schedule your session with them far in advance

Expert Page

Expert Page

Also, though it is early on and there are likely plans to add this in the future, I’d love to see more information about these experts.  I want to see examples of their work – programs, books, art, etc.  I want to see how many people they’ve helped and a rating from the student on how well they did, how patient they were, their overall helpfulness.

I give this application a 7/10:

It has a lot of positives backing it up, and definite potential to be a useful and necessary application.  There are things that should be addressed by the company before it really takes off though.

Overall, I think it will prove to be a useful tool to those who wish to learn and are willing to take the time to do so.  The company will need to continue to be innovative in order to stand out from the crowd and compete with the well established websites already on the market.