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  • Pretty Hate Machine

    • 8 out of 10
    • Nine Inch Nails
    • For years I wanted to make music that sounded like something between Love and Rockets and Ministry. In 1989, Trent Reznor beat me to it with this genre-defining album, and it smacked me upside the hea
  • Suspended Animation

    • 8 out of 10
    • Fantomas
    • Mike Patton may well be one of the hardest working men in showbiz these days, and his latest with Fantômas underscores just about how far out he is willing to travel.

      Suspended Animation

  • Pressure Chief

    • 6 out of 10
    • Cake
    • Pressure Chief, Cake's latest album, didn't immediately grab me. In fact, it took perhaps half a dozen listens before I started truly enjoying it. Any

  • Gimme Fiction

    • 10 out of 10
    • Spoon
    • Gimme Fiction by Spoon is a terrific album by an Austin band that I was lucky enough to catch on an Austin radio station during a Christmas visit.

  • Jagged Little Pill (Acoustic)

    • 6 out of 10
    • Alanis Morissette
    • Ten years after the original release, comes the traditional celebratory acoustic re-recording. The album has held up remarkably well. While it is not as meaningful to me as it was when I was sixteen,

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Free on iTunes

Planets, Simple To-Do, Ferrari GT Evolution And More

I'm usually up very early in the morning, around 5 AM, though occasionally I get up at 3 AM.

It's always been that way with me, late to bed and early to rise. It has made me neither healthy, wealthy, or wise. (Wait; that first part is suppose to be "early to bed...". I guess that explains a lot.)

One of the things I like about being up so early is that the world outdoors is a very different place than what we typically see during daylight. It's quieter, darker, and full of hidden secrets. And the sky is just chock full of stuff to see.

For instance, I was up around 4:30 AM this morning. The waning moon was but a sliver, which is great for viewing with a telescope or a pair of binoculars. I have a small telescope and I usually haul it out when I know that the more interesting planets are in view. (Interesting to Vern = Mars, Jupiter, or Saturn).

This morning, and for the passed month of mornings, a bright object appeared in the eastern sky about an hour before sunrise.

At first I thought it was Jupiter. I knew that the big planet was due to be up around that time, but I hadn't expected it to be so bright.

I normally fire up Starmap, a great iPhone app that displays a map of the sky as it appears at your current location (it uses GPS) and time. I use Starmap to help me find nebulas and other stuff to look at on the exceedingly rare clear and dry nights in Central Florida.

On the occasion, like this morning, when I just want to know what planet I was looking at, it's better to fire up Planets, a free iPhone app that tells you the position of all the planets, the Moon, and Sun relative to your time and place.

It turns out I was right, that bright planet was too bright to be Jupiter, which appears smaller and higher up in the sky before dawn. The planet I was looking at was Venus, which I should have known since it was shining so brightly I could almost read by its light. I took a look at it with a pair of binoculars as saw the Venus was in crescent, meaning that I could only see part of its visible surface. It also means that Venus is on the same side of the Sun as we are, which, in turn, means that it is closer to us than normal, hence its relative brightness.

What's cool about Planets is that it gives you a visibility chart which shows you which planet is visible at the current time and what should be visible during a 24 hour period. It also displays the Earth, showing both light and dark sides.

It's a great little app and a must have for any armchair astronomer.

One of the things that I think about at 5AM, when I'm not sipping coffee and staring up at the night sky, is all of the things I have to do during the next day. Appointments, tasks, and a myriad of other things keep me so busy that I almost hate to see the sun rise. But bills have to be paid, obligations met, and socializing... um... socialized and I find that I am relying more on my iPhone's calendar.

 

The thing I don't like about the iPhone's calendar is the lack of a good to do list. Luckily that void is filled nicely with Simple To-Do, another freebie on the iTunes Store.

As the name implies, Simple To-Do is easy to use, and I like easy. Create categories of tasks ahead of time then use them to quickly organize your tasks as you enter them, thus making the chore of entering much easier.

Simple To-Do also shows an alert on its icon for each task you have pending, a good reminder without being overbearing.

As you complete tasks just check them off or erase them. Simple!

What I also like about Simple To-Do is that it isn't burdened with ads, syncing, or other marginally useful features. It's quick, clean, and easy to use.

Grab the free app at the iTunes Store.

Of course, now that I am more efficient I now have more free time on my hands, which means more time to waste on games, and an excellent time waster, for those who enjoy racing games, is Ferrari GT Evolution Lite.

The game dynamics and graphics are as good as any racing game on other handheld platforms, which makes it hard to believe that even the lite version is free.

It took a bit of getting use to, but I do like the game controls, and, just as with other high end race games, you get to see a camera view of your previous race.

Again, it's hard to believe a game like this plays so well on the iPhone and for free. There is a paid version which offers a bunch more features, but if you just want to kill a few minutes the lite version is just the ticket.

Ferrari FT Evolution Lite is a freebie available at the iTunes Store.

OK, that's a rap for this week. Stop by next week for more Free on iTunes.

If you can't wait until next week then check out the free stuff below (with direct links):


Vern Seward is a writer who currently lives in Orlando, FL. He’s been a Mac fan since Atari Computers folded, but has worked with computers of nearly every type for 20 years.

1 comments from the community.

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Talpur said:

Gives Thanks, Very fascinating read, you should be dramatic of your web logs. I’ve been genuinely delighting developing up your situations from meter to time. Looking forward to understand your future positions
Many wonderful selective information, thanks for partaking.  Testament definitely be back more often….

freebies

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