My Year In Review

my year in chalkboard

before and after morro bay 2013 was a very good year for me.  I started out not wanting to make a new years resolution out of fear of the disappointment that would always come from breaking it.  I decided to make one after a few days, and I stayed with it, well, until July anyway.  I said I wanted to lose weight and I did.  By July I had lost 70lbs with an android app called Noom, but then the weight stopped dropping and I gained 10lbs back, but fluctuated throughout the rest of the year.  I started out the year at 264lbs, went down to 194lbs and as of today I am 205lbs.  I will make another resolution to get back on my diet so I can get down to the weight that I wanted to get down to.  I know how to do it, I just need the willpower.

xray1 On March 16th I had an accident while riding the bicycle home from the grocery store at night and I broke my arm.  It was the ball of my left arm that fits into the shoulder socket.  I didn’t have a cast, instead all I was given was a sling from the emergency room.  By that time I had already lost 35lbs, and as you can already tell from the previous paragraph, the broken arm didn’t stop me from reaching my weight loss goal.

etsy banner While I was recovering from my broken arm, I decided that I wanted to start a new craft.  Well, it wasn’t really a new craft, it was an old craft that I learned when I was 9 and in the Cub Scouts.  I had some materials, so I wanted to use them up by making a couple of keychains.  I had so much fun that I decided that I wanted to learn a more complicated pattern.  I got so good at it and I was having so much fun that I ended up with about 40 keychains, so I opened up an Etsy shop.  I started out with keychains, and I added dangle keychain style earrings, studs and hoops and I already have plans on making and selling dream catcher earrings.

On June 26th, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled DOMA to be unconstitutional and Prop 8 was finally repealed.  HURRAY!  What a glorious day that was for the gay community in California.  In fact, 18 (or 19) states made gay marriage legal in 2013 and legal on a federal level.  The reason I said or 19 is because Wikipedia doesn’t include DC, but says eighteen states AND District of Columbia.  Whatever.  18 or 19, it’s still a huge victory for us.  Illinois is in that 18, but theirs isn’t legal until June 2014.

IMAG2002 In late July I started having pain in my parotid gland, which happens at least 2 or 3 times a year for I want to say the last 10 years, but I am not positive.  It’s been going on for a very long time.  The parotid gland is the saliva gland and for some reason the saliva doesn’t release into my mouth, instead something blocks the way and it swells up to the size of a golf ball or bigger.  I try to milk it so the saliva goes into my mouth, and that does work, but it hurts really bad.  The doctors usually give me an antibiotic and it clears up in a week, but this time it didn’t clear up.  My doctor sent me to an ear, nose throat doctor and to have an ultrasound which showed that I had a stone inside of my parotid gland.  The ENT doctor sent me to have a cat scan with contrast which showed that I had several stones in both of my parotid glands, but the ones on the right side were much bigger than the left.  I had surgery on November 20th to remove my parotid gland.  The area is still numb and I was told it will probably be numb for another couple or few months.  YAY!

My back has caused me tons of pain for so many years and this summer I finally found out what was causing it.  Apparently I have scoliosis in my spine.  I told my aunt about it and she told me that my great-grandmother was born with scoliosis and she lived her entire life with it.  I remember she had a hump on her back, that was the scoliosis.  My doctor sent me to physical therapy for a month and that halted the pain, but it didn’t correct anything.  I have an appointment in January to start treatment up again, and it’s a good thing too because the pain is already starting to come back.  My first treatment was a shock, no, seriously, they put these electrodes on my back and it shot electricity to my nerves to dull them.  They had me do exercises for half an hour and then they would give me a deep tissue massage. The electrode was only applied to me on the first visit, all the other appointments were just me laying on the table doing exercises and then massages.  The last couple appointments didn’t include a massage.

bread slicer pumpkin bread We went to a thrift store in October and I found a bread machine for only $6.  I can’t say I have ever had homemade bread before, like ever, so that was quite an experience.  I did learn that I was doing it wrong for a very long time when I had such a horrible stomachache which felt like I had a 10lb brick sitting in my stomach.  Apparently the bread was too dry.  I read the instructions.  It clearly stated that I was to use exact measurements, no more, no less, so I was only doing what I was told to do, but apparently rules are made to be broken.  Now the bread is light and fluffy and it actually tastes better than store bought bread.  My favorite bread to make is Spiced Pumpkin Bread with raisins.  Have you ever had a ham sandwich or a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich with pumpkin bread with raisins?  It’s quite awesome.  Although I will have to cut back on the bread when I start my diet up again.

We also helped feed a couple of neighbors for Thanksgiving and Christmas, which frankly is what the holidays are all about.  It’s nice to receive presents, but it’s even nicer to do a good deed for someone.  I guess those were our good deeds for the year.

Of course we exchanged presents.  I got a Nook HD+ 32GB tablet from my partner, and I gave him a Google Chromecast so he can watch Netflix and YouTube from his tablet, plus I got him Netflix.

I don’t know what will happen in 2014, but I’m sure it will be as memorable as 2013.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!

Google Chromecast

Chromecast

I didn’t know what to get my partner for Christmas because he doesn’t seem to show any interest to anything.  Everyone has a hobby of some sorts, but not him, so buying presents is difficult.  Last month he bought a new tablet from Verizon and I remember seeing the ads for Chromecast, so I figured this would make the perfect gift for him so he could watch Netflix and YouTube on his HDTV.

Chromecast Icon CircledOf course when it came, I couldn’t get it working.  I thought the setup would be easy, but it was anything but.  His tablet recognized it, but wouldn’t connect with it.  I decided that he could use my CR-48 (Chromebook) to watch Netflix, so I installed the extension and it recognized the Chromecast and connected instantly.  I went back to his tablet to the Chromecast app and it was already connected there too.  Despite the fact that I never even installed the Chromecast app on my Nook HD+, I see the Chromecast connect icon on Netflix and YouTube.

When I bought the Chromecast through the Google Play Store, I read the reviews and saw a couple of people bitching about the fact that you cannot watch home videos or pictures you have taken with your phone or tablet, but I found that to be false.  If you own a Chromecast, when you go to the Google Play Store on your device you will see a category with apps made specifically for Chromecast.  There is an app called avia which says you can share your personal photos, videos and music on the big screen.  The app is free, but it might be limited because it says “In-app purchase of $2.99  gives you Chromecast support, casting to DLNA enabled devices, access to Dropbox, support for themes and removes all ads.”  As with everything in life, read the reviews and decide for yourself.  There is only one app that will allow you to share your personal photos and videos… for now.

Loading the Chromecast is simple.  When you want to watch something, just click the Chromecast icon so it streams to your TV, then hit the play button and it will automatically switch to the Chromecast.  When you are done, you will have to get the remote control that came with your TV to switch the input back to the cable.  It’s actually very easy.

It’s a great device for those who don’t have an internet streaming device like the Apple TV, Roku or a Blu-ray player, it’s also cheaper at only $35.

Here are a couple of screenshots of YouTube and Netflix with the Chromecast icon.

Chromecast YouTube Chromecast Netflix

Nook HD+ for Christmas

desktop landscape

I was totally not expecting this, but my partner bought me a Nook HD+ 32GB for Christmas. I was saving money to buy an Amazon Kindle Fire because I thought it was better than a Nook tablet. I had no idea that the Nook tablet had the Google play store now. So I changed my mind, but was still saving the money and was expecting that I would finally have the money saved by my birthday in June. I told my partner what I was planning, and I think he took that as a hint. It wasn’t, but hey, I’m not complaining lol.

I have a Nook WiFi, which is still very nice to have for when I want to read a book in the sunlight. That doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. You can’t see a tablet screen in sunlight which is what makes a e-ink screen superior than a tablet in that sense.

I was saving up for the 7″ screen with only 8GB, but when we were at the Barnes & Noble store he saw the two screens next to each other and decided for me that the 9″ screen was better, and that 32GB would also be way better than only 8GB which I highly agree with. The price however was a huge difference. The 7″ tablet was only $129 and the 9″ was $179. I agree that the one he bought me is better though, and I probably would have regretted not getting the bigger one.

library portrait There was a problem with my new Nook though. The first day was okay, but the second day wasn’t. The screen started freaking out on me. It would move side to side on its own and it would drop app icons onto the desktop from the carousel at the top. It also went into my library and started downloading books and magazines from the cloud. I saw it in the Nook store and freaked out that it would start making executive decisions on what it thought I should start reading.

I called the store and tried to explain to them what was happening, but the tech didn’t get it right away. She eventually understood and walked me through resetting it to factory and told me if I had any more problems to bring it in for another one. It did, and so we went in the very next day. It was a good thing too because they were on sale, so they gave my partner the difference, which was $32. Not bad eh? Instead of being $179, it was only $149.

So yeah, the Nook HD+ 32GB was a very good thing. I’ve been putting my computer in sleep mode while I use the Nook as a computer. No sense in using electricity if I’m going to use a tablet instead of a computer. I am disappointed that I can’t play the Sims FreePlay on it though. I’ve been playing that on my cell phone for a year now and it gets frustrating when it crashes constantly. I would love to free up some space on my phone and play it on a bigger screen.

landscape book

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to read books on the screen because I much prefer either paper or e-ink, but it’s actually not that bad to read from. I’ve been reading in landscape mode and it reads just like a book, it even looks like a book when you turn the page. The reason I’m reading in landscape mode is because of the case I have. It’s much easier for me to read with the Nook sitting on my desk than it is to hold it on my hand.

I am very happy with my gift. I’m even happier that I didn’t have to save the money for it because I can’t save money very easily because it always goes into the groceries. I’m even happier that the replacement didn’t freak out like the first one lol.

We didn’t buy the case in the store because I thought they would be expensive, so I bought it on Amazon for $11 with free shipping.  Not a bad price.  I found out that the cases they have in the store are only $15, but I am very happy with the case that I have because it rotates so it can stand in portrait or landscape mode.

We don’t conform to the rules of opening your Christmas presents ON Christmas day.  Screw that noise lol.  We will open our presents when we gosh darn well please thank you very much.  The present I bought for him wasn’t quite as expensive though, it was the Google Chromecast for $35.  He can use it to watch Netflix or YouTube directly from his tablet.  My second gift for him was Netflix itself, which we both can enjoy from our tablets and the Blu-ray player.

Since when did saying “Happy Holidays” become offensive?

Christmas 2007-1

I have been saying “Happy Holidays” my entire life.  There have always been cards sold in stores that say “Happy Holidays” and nobody was ever offended before.  Now all of a sudden saying “Happy Holidays” seems to be more offensive because people believe there is a war on Christmas and that Atheists are trying to remove “Christ” from Christmas, so if I don’t say “Merry Christmas”, but say “Happy Holidays” instead, then I am part of the problem and get lectured by some religious person who is very upset.

This is how I see it.  I have friends who celebrate Hanukkah and friends who celebrate Christmas.  I also have friends and family who celebrate Christmas, but not specifically for religious reasons because they are Atheists.  So why can’t I say “Happy Holidays” to them without someone yelling at me for not saying “Merry Christmas”?  I wouldn’t say “Merry Christmas” to my Jewish friends and I wouldn’t say “Happy Hanukkah” to my Christian friends.  Happy Holidays is a happy medium.  It’s a way of saying, well, Happy Holidays lol.  It’s just words, so why is it so upsetting?  I don’t understand.

I am an Atheist and I have celebrated Christmas since I was a baby.  I wasn’t always an Atheist, I was baptized when I was a baby and I considered myself to be a Christian when I was growing up.  My parents took us to church when we were very young, and I have memories of that, but then they stopped and there is a very funny story of why.

My mother and step father went to my mother’s church which happened to be the Mormon church.  The first time he ever went there with her, they asked him to stand up and say his name.  He was afraid to say his own last name out of fear of her getting kicked out of the church because they were living together, but they weren’t married.  They knew her last name was McDonald, so he used her last name without really thinking it through.  The problem with that was, his first name was Ronald.  He was so beyond embarrassed when people laughed at him for proudly proclaiming to be Ronald McDonald that we never went to church again as a family.

I went with neighbors to the Salvation Army church when I was in the 6th and 7th grade.  I even went to the Salvation Army band camp the summer before I was in the 7th grade.  When we lived in Reseda when I was in the 9th grade we rejoined the Mormon Church because they helped us with food bank, but I don’t recall going to church every Sunday, but I do remember going to teen functions, one specific function stands out, it was a dance for the teenagers.

Anyway, I was very religious up until I came out of the closet at 17, well, I was pushed out, then kicked out.  People started quoting the bible to let me know I was going to hell for being gay and over the course of a year or two, I became an Atheist.  But I never stopped celebrating Christmas because I enjoy decorating the Christmas tree and looking at the lights and having a stocking hung by the fireplace.  I enjoy all of the Christmas movies and I love it when my favorite shows have a Christmas episode.

Just because I am an atheist and do not celebrate Christmas for “Christ” doesn’t mean I want Christ to be removed from Christmas.  I honestly don’t care what it’s called, I just want to have a happy holiday without being told that I am a part of the war on Christmas just because I am not religious.

So Happy Holidays to you all.  Deal with me saying Happy Holidays because it’s just words.  If me saying Happy Holidays offends you, get over it!

BTW, the cat in the picture above is our late cat Shanaynay.  She passed away in 2009.

Too Fat for a Hat?

wearing a hat before and after

I wore baseball caps throughout my childhood and teen years, I even wore a hat when I worked in the fast food industry as a teenager and in my early 20’s. When I started to go bald, I wore a hat for two reasons, one because my skin burns easily and two because I didn’t want anyone to see that I was bald lol. I mean, I wasn’t hiding it because it’s a fact of life, but I just didn’t like it, so I would hide it.

I stopped wearing hats right after I got this hat for Christmas one year. When I saw the picture of me wearing my Christmas present and how fat I was, I resigned myself to the fact that I didn’t look good in hats anymore. Some people can pull certain looks off, and I was always able to pull off wearing a baseball cap, but I was convinced those days were gone. I would look at myself in the mirror with this and my other hats, and I just didn’t like the way I looked in them.

Today I was preparing myself to go on a walk and regretting it because it is supposed to be 102°F today. I wanted to see if I looked okay in a hat, so naturally this being the nicest and the least beat up hat that I had, I tried it on and was surprised at how loose it was. I had to adjust the velcro so it would be tighter on my thinner head. I had no idea that my head had actually shrunk that much. I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t very happy until I put on the Noom sunglasses. That’s when it all came together.

So I’m going to start wearing a hat again when I go for my walks because I am very concerned about skin cancer, especially since I burn so easily. I actually don’t think I look bad at all anymore in a hat. Even without the sunglasses, I think I look okay.

My 50lb Weight Loss – Before and After Pictures

weight loss before and after 50lbs

So yesterday was what I consider to be a milestone.  I weighed in at 212.6lbs which brings my weight loss total down to 50.4lbs lost since January 5th 2013.  So yeah, I feel like bragging lol.

Last night we went to a local event where a woman named Erin Davies is driving cross-country to show her documentary called FagBug and talk about her experiences with vandalism and homophobia and to raise awareness on the subject with her car called the “fagbug.”  When I heard she was coming, I knew I had to go because I wanted to see the car and have my picture taken with it.  And since it would be the first picture of me with 50lbs weight loss, I thought it would work as a great sort of after picture, even though I’m not finished with my journey.

Anyway, so let me give you a rundown of the images you see above.  Top left was from Christmas 2004.  I am actually not positive what my weight was back then, but I’m pretty sure it was 230 give or take.

The second picture on the top is a picture that was taken at Hearst Castle in Colorado in 2005.  It is also the picture that I used as my author picture since it was the best picture I have ever taken.  I hate taking my picture as a fat guy, but love pictures when I’m skinny so perhaps I will be taking a lot more photos when I am finally down in weight.

The bottom left picture was taken last year in May at a PFLAG meeting with Robin Tyler.  I had no idea until after the picture was taken that my stomach was actually that big.  I was beyond mortified, but kept it because I didn’t want to delete the only picture of me with Robin Tyler.  I mean, she’s Robin Tyler!

The bottom right picture is my before picture.  That is the one I took at the IHOP that we went to on New Years Day just before I made the decision to go on this weight loss journey.

Finally, the picture on the right is how I look today.  You can certainly see the difference in my neck and my face.  You probably can’t tell with the black shirt, but believe me, it’s thinner than all those before pictures.  My stomach (waist) was 50” and now it is down to 43”.  So yeah, it’s thinner.  Also my thighs are really skinny now too.  I didn’t think to measure my thighs at the beginning or every week because the Noom app didn’t ask me to, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have still kept a record.  It doesn’t matter because they are thinner now.  Oh and thank you photographer (my partner) for taking the picture with me talking instead of smiling lol.  That was sarcasm of course.

My total weight loss since January 5th is 50.4lbs.  My goal is to lose 63lbs, so I only have 12.6lbs to go.  Although, once I meet my goal I will adjust the Noom app so that I will go down to 170 because 63lbs was just a small goal to get me started, my true goal is much higher than a measly 63lbs.  I was afraid that if I set too high of a goal, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.  I think that I have proven to myself that not only can I meet this goal, but I can keep going until all the fat is gone.

Look out world, here I come!  My next picture will be when I have lost 63lbs when I weigh 200lbs or less (if it’s like 199.8 or something).  See you then…

My Cloudy Lava Lamp (FIXED)

httpvh://youtu.be/RPYaW_NTJZ4

I am a happy camper today.  I was at my wit’s end with this lava lamp because when I cleaned it, it didn’t work again.  It just sat there with the blob of wax sitting at the bottom and never doing anything.  This morning I just started adding more and more straw fulls of salt water and boy has it come back from the dead fast.  I mean, it’s night and day.

I posted this about my cloudy lava lamp and talked near the end about how done with it I was and that I was going to just get a new one, but I take it back now lol.  You can see pictures of my experience with the epsom salt.  It was a total nightmare!

So this is how I fixed my yellow cloudy lava lamp.  I dumped the water out, rinsed it out in the sink, added distilled water, then a drop of Avon body wash, made a mixture of 1TBSP of salt with a small glass of distilled water and stirred it.  I used a straw to add the salt water to the lava lamp, but I had to add a lot of straws full.  I think just keep adding it until you see it doing something.  Obviously if the lava is just sitting at the bottom it needs more salt water.  If it starts to kick up but doesn’t break away too easy, add more salt water.

YAY!  I finally got my lava lamp back to working!  My partner suggested to throw it in the trash and he’d buy me another one, but I don’t want another one, I want this one!  He bought it for me for Christmas 2011.  I also don’t like the idea of adding one more thing to the already overflowing land fills.  I know everything in it can be recycled, but I still wanted to try to get it working again.  I’m glad I succeeded!

Cloudy Lava Lamp (Updated)

lavalamp

I have enjoyed my lava lamp since I got it for Christmas last year.  It is my very first lava lamp and I sit at my desk chair sometimes staring at it for literally 10-20 minutes.  It is that interesting to me.  What is even more interesting, or probably more disturbing, is the fact that the water used to be crystal clear, and now it’s yellow.  I don’t know why it has turned yellow, but apparently it’s a common problem with lava lamps.

Here is my lava lamp in December 2011 when I first got it, and here it is now in January 2013 a year later.

 lava lamp december 2012 lava lamp january 2013

What a huge difference.  I wonder what would cause the water to turn yellow like that?  I never thought anything of it until I was browsing through the pictures in the My Pictures folder on my computer and came across it.  I then suddenly remembered how clear it used to be.  Naturally I went to Google to research it to see if anyone else has had this issue and to see if there was anything to do about it.  I did find several websites that mentioned it and even a solution.

Update: I deleted everything I had typed out before and retyped it.  I took out those links and here is why.  I followed their instructions which seemed legit to me because more than one website mentioned the same exact thing, but all it did was mess up my lamp.  Here is what it looked like after I tried their fix.

lava very cloudy from salt

I was devastated when this happened to my lava lamp.  The instructions were to let it cool so the wax was solid and open the top of the lava lamp and dump the water out into the sink.  Then put new water from the tap in and swish it around to get all the grease off the walls of the lamp which meant doing that a couple of times.  Then they said to fill it up with tap water and add a couple drops of dish liquid and add a mixture of epsom salt and water with a straw.  Those white flakes in the image to the left is the result of the epsom salt.

I let the lamp cool down and dumped the water out and added new water and more soap, but not the epsom salt and turned it on and there was still epsom salt in the wax at the bottom, so it took several times of rinsing it out to get it back to this…

lava afterI was thrilled beyond belief when the lava lamp was back to normal and the lava was rising.  But then it stopped rising and went back down and never went back up again.  What did I do wrong?  Like an idiot I mixed a tiny amount of epsom salt with a lot of water and added an inch full from a straw and I got that image from above again.  UGH!

That blew my mind that such a tiny amount of epsom salt would do the same thing as a bunch of epsom salt in a smaller amount of water.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.  I rinsed it out again and didn’t add ANY salt at all and the lava wouldn’t go up again.  I searched for more instructions because I really want this working again.  I found one guy who made a video and said don’t use too much soap because it will ruin your lava lamp.  He also said to use 1 tablespoon of regular table salt and use the straw to add it, which I did and it still won’t rise.

I’m not sure if every time I had to rinse it out and added more soap if the soap ruined the wax or what, but it’s not rising anymore at all.  I rinsed it out again and didn’t add anything and it is just not working.  I think I screwed it up beyond repair.

Of course I have questions, like did I use the wrong dish liquid?  It’s Palmolive anti-bacterial, maybe it didn’t have enough of the right ingredient.  Maybe I used the wrong epsom salt.  The epsom salt I have is generic and it’s hard as a rock.  I assume it’s because the ziplock bag it is in wasn’t manufactured properly because the zips don’t line up right so air gets in, maybe that’s why it’s hard, maybe moisture got in.  Perhaps if I bought a brand name epsom salt then it might work, but what if I bought some and tried it and it still messed it up?  What if, what if, what if…

Another update:  It works!  Here is a brand new post with a video.

How to make money with your cell phone – 7 apps

AndroidMoney

I have been getting paid to blog for many years using various IZEA websites, such as PayPerPost, SocialSpark and Sponsored Tweets, which by the way is the only reason I was able to buy myself a brand new Android phone for Christmas.

Since I have a new HTC ONE V from Virgin Mobile coming, I figured I would see if I could use that to my advantage to make more money.  The blogging for money is fine, but it has taken a few months worth of blogging and tweeting just to make $80 to buy my new Android phone.  It’s good pay, but it doesn’t come by very easily.

Naturally the first thing I did was go to Google and typed “Make money with android phone” and I found a bunch of things.  IZEA used to have a cell phone app called WeRewards which rewarded you every time you checked in at a store like Target, Walmart, Subway etc. as long as you took a picture of yourself, your receipt, the product and/or the store sign while in the store or in the parking lot.  They closed that down so there is one less thing to talk about, but they did replace it with Staree.

Ok so here are the things I have found.

ipinion 1. iPinion and iPinion+

iPinion is the most sophisticated survey app ever built for smart phones. It has exciting survey questions including several image interaction types. Users can take surveys on the go and earn rewards.  iPinion is non-intrusive, fun to participate and professional.

They have 2 apps and they each got good ratings and reviews, but iPinion+ doesn’t have as many as the other.

iconzoomer 2. IconZoomer

Become Trendspotter at Iconzoomer and receive cash for your photos.

Shoot it – Send it – Earn it

Each week you’ll receive assignments of basic topics such as: “Show us what you are eating for dinner?” or “Show the shoes are you wearing today?”

Pretty straight forward.  They ask you to take a picture, you do and you get paid for it.  That seems pretty good and the ratings and reviews are very good.

checkpoints 3. CheckPoints

Scan barcodes for products like Coca-Cola, Dreyer’s and more in any store for instant rewards! As seen in the Washington Post, NY Times, USA Today and CNN, CheckPoints is the “App That Pays You Back” with free rewards, no matter where you are!

You are going to the store anyway, why not open this app while you are there and scanning barcodes for rewards?  It seems really easy.  This app got a lot of good ratings and reviews.

shopkick 4. ShopKick

This holiday shopping season, join the more than 4 million shopkick users who get rewarded for the shopping they already do. It’s like a rewards program—only better. You get rewarded just for walking into stores like Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, Old Navy, American Eagle and Crate & Barrel. Get even more kicks when you scan items and make purchases. Forget sales and coupons. You can find great discounts and deals in the app. It’s a magical experience, and it’s free.

This is very similar to CheckPoints in the sense that you get rewarded for scanning barcodes, but you also get rewarded merely for walking into a store without doing anything.  So you could basically just go to the mall and walk around with this app loaded and go into the stores that they have listed in the app and start window shopping and scanning barcodes.  They got some good ratings and some reviews.

SwagBucks5. SwagBucks Search Swidget & SwagBucks TV Mobile

The official app from Swagbucks. Earn rewards & prizes by searching on your Android device.

I haven’t had much experience with SwagBucks Search Swidget because when I have tried it, it hasn’t really given me too many rewards.  I think the only way to get your SwagBucks with that is by making a purchase from whatever website you are searching for.  Like if you search for Target and you make a purchase, you get SwagBucks for every dollar that you spend.

SwagBucks TV Mobile on the other hand is a bit different.  You load the app and you choose which type of videos you want to watch and you just sit there and watch videos for however long of a time you have to sit there watching videos I guess.  There are music videos and movie trailers.  It’s a novelty that does wear off and you don’t get that many SwagBucks, but it still counts.  You can’t just load the app and have it run all day and all night because you have to tap the X in the top right of the screen in between videos.

Note that 100 swag bucks is basically $1 so it is a good idea.

Added 8-14-2013

viggle 6. Viggle

Viggle. Check into your favorite shows and get rewarded. Viggle makes TV better.

Watch TV. Get Rewards. Check into your favorite TV shows with Viggle and you’ll get real rewards from brands like Best Buy, Burger King, Fandango, Old Navy and more.

Viggle can automatically identify the show you’re watching. You get Viggle points for every show you watch which you can redeem for real rewards or convert into charitable donations.

Some people are saying bad things about this, like the app doesn’t recognize the show they are watching so they have to type it in manually, and others are saying it doesn’t give you money, you get coupons.  I would say to check it out and if you only get $5 gift cards for Amazon, then at least you are getting something.  I mean who cares if you are getting coupons, it’s the same as cash when you go to use it and you end up saving money on things you already want to buy.  Also, if you feel generous you could give the money to charity.

Update: I can tell you that this is good and you do get real rewards because I got a $25 gift card for Barnes & Noble to buy ebooks.  I used it to buy the Hunger Games ebooks for my Nook.

staree 7. Staree

Use the Staree app to upload photos and videos to your Staree.com profile.

To request a Staree account, please visit our website at http://www.staree.com!

I am loyal to IZEA so I am only adding this because they are an awesome company that always pays you.  They are 100% legit.  I have signed up for Staree and have uploaded a couple of photos, but I don’t know how it really works yet.  But it’s still worth giving a shot.  I really wish they would bring WeReward back though.

erewards icon8. e-Rewards

e-Rewards Mobile is now available for Android- now you can answer surveys and earn Rewards on the go!

I have used e-Rewards for many years and I can say that it is a good tool for making money, although you don’t actually make money so much as you get rewarded for your surveys with gift cards.  Some rewards are better than others, but the only reward that I am interested in is $25 Game Stop gift cards.  They have changed their reward system since the last time I got a $25 gift card for Game Stop.  It used to be that I would have to do $50 worth of surveys to cash in for the $25 gift card, but now you have to do $75 worth, so they are basically charging you $50 to cash in on $25.  I feel that is a huge rip off, but it’s still a reward.

It would be nice if they offered better rewards.  Most of their rewards are for hotels or airline rewards or magazines.  I don’t travel or read magazines, so those rewards are useless.  It would be nice if they had Amazon and Barnes & Noble rewards.

Added 8-14-2013

So these are all of the apps that I plan on installing when I get my new HTC One V from Virgin Mobile.  If you know of any more or better apps for making money please let me know in the comments and I will add them.  These were just all I could find from doing my own research, but I am sure there are better apps out there.

Thank you to IZEA for allowing me to blog for products and websites and paying me for it.  Now I will hopefully be able to make more money from my phone so that I can afford the monthly fee and/or to buy some accessories for it lol.

A New Phone for (a belated) Christmas

I wrote about how I wanted to buy myself a new cell phone from Virgin Mobile for Christmas, but I can’t seem to settle on which phone I want and I keep changing the phone in that post.  I said I am not getting it for games, but here’s the thing, it doesn’t matter if I play games on it or not, if it can’t play games well, then what hope do I have for it running apps?  So I want a phone that is capable of running apps as well as well as it runs games because I don’t want to be in an app and suddenly the phone freezes up.

The phone I wanted in the beginning was on sale for $49, but after seeing a video review on YouTube for it, I decided that it wasn’t what I wanted.  They always say you get what you pay for, and for $50 you are probably getting a piece of crap.  The phone is normally $100, but still, if they show a game freezing in the review then that’s enough for me to say no.

I have been watching other reviews for other phones and even though they are good phones, none of them compare to the quality you get with the most expensive Android phone that they have.

The HTC EVO V 4G is on sale for $189 and takes 3D pictures and video, which is nice and all, but where else am I going to see those besides the phone?  I can’t print the 3D images and I can’t watch the videos on my 2D TV, so what’s the point?  Plus it only takes 5MP pictures.  The most expensive one takes 8MP pictures and it doesn’t have 3D.  So I would say screw the 3D, I don’t need it.

The HTC One V and the Samsung Galaxy Reverb are both good phones, the HTC One V is on sale for $100 and the Samsung Galaxy Reverb is on sale for $150, but again, not as good as the most expensive one which I now see is no longer as cheap as it was yesterday.  It is the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G.  I can’t afford that for a phone.  So my 2 choices are now down to the HTC One V and the Samsung Galaxy Reverb.

I still can’t afford anything until next month.  I have already set aside $40 and I will have more than $100 coming to me next month for blogging and tweeting which is at least 6 months worth, so it’s not a lot lol.  Whatever amount I have will determine which phone I get.  I want the HTC One V because it seems like a much better phone, even though it’s cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy Reverb.  Of course, neither of them are as good as the Galaxy S II, but if that is all I can afford, then that’s all I can afford.  I will probably most likely have to pay separately for the plan after I buy the phone, so whatever it is I can add $35 to the price.

The toughest part is that by the time I have the money for the phone, they won’t be on sale anymore so I will end up paying more for the phone.  I’ll probably end up checking Amazon and VirginMobileUSA.com every day to see if they have a sale and which one is worth getting.  Who knows, maybe by the time I have the money saved up, they might have new phones that are better than the 2 I’m torn between.

I don’t really need a new cell phone because I hardly ever use the one I have, so this isn’t a necessity, but I would like to have a new one because I feel like I’m stuck in the dark ages with the one I have, even though I’ve only had it for a year and a half lol.  It’s like having a black and white TV when everyone else has color, or having a Nintendo 64 when everyone else has PlayStation.  This is starting to sound like an Alanis Morissette song.  It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife lol.

My phone never has a good signal, so whenever I call anyone with it, I feel like I’m going to get cut off so that’s why I don’t like to use it.  I know it’s not the phones fault, but how do I know it’s not?  It’s a Samsung T401G from Net10.  I have had trouble downloading games for it because of the bad signal.  I have to wait until we go to a doctor’s appointment or to the mall to get a good enough signal just to download games, and forget about checking email because every time I try to do that, Gmail has to send me a new code which comes in a text so I have to leave the browser and read the text and try to remember the code so I can enter it when I go back to the browser.  It’s just a horrible phone lol.  I want a new phone because I feel if I had a better phone I might use it more.  I may not call people, but I will use the apps.

Another reason I want a smart phone is so that I can use Twitter and Facebook when we’re not home and I can’t get to a computer or I don’t want to be rude enough to take out my Chromebook.  It will be so much easier to pull my phone out and do a quick Facebook update or tweet and then put it back in my pocket.  It will also be so much easier and faster to tweet pictures that I have taken with my phone instead of having to upload pics to Picasa to edit before uploading to Facebook and Twitter.  It will take so many long steps out of the equation.  Also I can read email and respond right away, not that I get a lot of emails anymore since Facebook and Twitter came out, but still.

I will have to wait and see what happens in January before I can make a firm decision on whether I will get a new phone and which one it will be.  I hope it’s a good one and is 100 times better than the one I have.