Halloween Apps Do Everything But Eat the Candy for You

Halloween is on the horizon; this means candy, pumpkins, costumes, candy, and smartphone apps.  And more candy.  There is a wide selection of apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android platforms, and they range from time-killers for kids to helpful tools for parents.  Let’s take a look at some of each.

If you have children who don’t like car rides or who behave abysmally at restaurants while waiting for their food, Carve It for iPhone is a great, and seasonal, solution.  With Carve It, your child can “carve” his own pumpkin any time he wants.  The almost-full screen pumpkin waits for your child to use his fingertips to carve a face.  They can save it and share via email.  This is 99 cents, and worth its weight in gold for waiting rooms.  BlackBerry offers Jack-O-Lantern, a similar type of app that allows you to change the jack-o-lantern’s face. This is free.

Another free app for Android users is the Halloween Android Theme.  Your home screen will be full of creepy zombies, ghosts, and vortexes of doom.

If you have an iPhone or Touch, get GhostCam. It is the best 99 cents you will ever spend, and you can freak your friends and family out.  GhostCam overlays a faint, ghostly image over any picture on your device. You can snap a photo of a friend and then appear shocked.  This works best if you’re watching a horror movie or with someone squeamish.

Now on to the helpful.  iLumination is a free app for iPhone, Touch, and iPad that acts as a flashlight.  It also includes ultralight, strobe light, and Morse code modes.   If you would prefer that your child carry around a phone worth several hundred dollars instead of a $10 flashlight, this is the perfect app for you.

Trick-or-Tracker is Droid app that is free until November 2.  When installed into both parent and child’s phones, it locates the child with a simple button touch.  Parents can also get updates about their child’s location.  This and the $4 Sex Offender Search app and 99 cent Sex Offender Tracker for iPhone are geared towards parents who fear the real monsters on Halloween.

There are some great apps available: stock up on yours before Halloween.

Is Spotify a Step Closer to the US?

Imeem founder Dalton Caldwell recently told a group of aspiring entrepreneurs that music startups were doomed.  It’s a good thing that Spotify is not a startup.  The immensely popular European music streaming site is hoping to make the leap across the pond, and according to “multiple sources with knowledge” of recent talks between Spotify and the four major music licensing companies,” they may just be a bit closer.

Two launch dates have come and gone, and Spotify remains a popular European streaming site.  Reportedly, they are tempting the wary licensing companies with promises of generous advances to make sure their promise of a US launch before the end of the year is made a reality.  They say the third time is the charm.  But it depends on the willingness of the music licensing companies to agree to terms of use with Spotify, and this is a problem.

They see the music streaming business model in much the same light as Mr. Caldwell – doomed.  They do not believe free works.  And a long list of failed streaming sites seems to bear this out.  They are also concerned that Spotify won’t be able to convert free users to paying customers.  Currently, Spotify manages to turn less than 10 percent of their users into premium (paying) subscribers.  Sources say the music companies would like to see the conversion rate closer to 15 percent.

The promise of big bucks is helping the frost licensing companies warm up to Spotify. This would mitigate their risk and put the pressure on Spotify to deliver the same type of results – or better – than they are currently seeing in Europe.

Music Startups Doomed, Says Imeem Founder

Before MySpace bought Imeem for a dismal $1 million, the music streaming site had been worth 24 times that.  It had deals with all four major licensing companies.  It was one of the top 100 most popular websites. But still, licensing fees proved too much even for this successful site.  Now Imeem founder, Dalton Caldwell, says that to survive as a music start-up, you either have to be very lucky or “have one crazy ace up your sleeve.”  Unless that happens, he feels, music sites are doomed to repeat Imeem’s failure.

In late October, Y Combinator, an investment firm which funds startups, held a one-day startup school at Stanford.  It was here that Dalton Caldwell spoke about the myriad obstacles facing music startups.  These include:

  • iTunes.  The Apple music store has a 90 percent market share on online tunes.  It is virtually impossible to compete.
  • Oversaturation.  Again, iTunes and other music startup hopefuls are flooding the market with sites. It is hard to get noticed and harder to stay noticed.
  • Subscription sites. Here, too, the market is saturated and startups face stiff competition from Spotify and other subscription-based sites.  In addition, says Caldwell, it is not financially feasible for most startups.  You pay quarterly minimums, handle licensing restrictions, pay employs and overhead, and give up “10% to 30% of your company.”
  • Money.  You have to secure rights from the licensing companies, pay quarterly minimums and advances, and pay per-play minimums.  All of this while dealing with the labels who already don’t like ad-supported music.
  • Rules.  The music industry hasn’t quite caught up to the digital age. Inadequately defined rules and regulations make it a complex, and expensive, business in which to operate.  Startups often have to sign non-transferrable deals with the licensing company in order to get the rights to their music. If the label merges with another or is sold (which is certainly not out of the realm of possibility in this economy), that deal is void.

Caldwell says that until licensing frameworks are shored up and labels de-powered, music startups are almost certainly going to fail.

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These Angry Birds are Happy with Success

Angry Birds, the insanely popular Rovio puzzle game, featuring some mad finches, has captured the top app spot for iPhone in the US, the UK, in Australia, and in several other countries around the world.  Its success was repeated with equally impressive downloads when it was made available (for free) to Android users recently.

When Angry Birds hit the 2 million download mark for Android devices, a Rovia developer tweeted, “Another day, another million.”  Prime Minister of the UK,  David Cameron, is a huge fan of the game, which he plays on his iPad, and Justin Bieber recently tweeted, “I love the game Angry Birds. It’s so sick.” Conan is a fan, as is Glee’s Cory Monteith.  The game obviously appeals to a wide range of people – but what has made it so beloved, especially by celebrities?  According to JSYK.com (Just So You Know), fifty-eight percent of their readers have never heard of the game.  So what are they missing out on?

Nothing makes birds angrier than someone messing with their eggs.  This is the basis of the gameplay of Angry Birds.  Eggs have been stolen by a group of evil pigs, and a flock of birds attempt to get them back. The goal is to eliminate all of the pigs on a level before they advance to the next.  Players use a slingshot to launch the birds at structures in which the pigs are hiding, trying to collapse it or hit the pig.  If they run out of ammo (birds) before all the pigs are killed, they cannot progress.  There are even different colored birds: a red one, for instance, is launched at a structure. It’s a low-end weapon.  Black birds, on the other hand, explode on command or shortly after they strike an object.  Free updates provide players with additional levels to conquer.  Other little tricks and goodies are included, such as golden eggs and stars.

Almost twenty million copies of this game have been downloaded (about 7 million paid and 13 million free), making it an unqualified success. But watch out, Angry Birds, TrainYard, a game from a small developer, used savvy marketing, leveraging an expert mention and Reddit boost into the number 2 spot at the iTunes store. The game, also a puzzle, requires users to build railroad tracks for trains to cross at certain points.  This little engine that could managed to take on the Angry Birds.

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Google and PayPal Team Up for Android

Google may be the dominant search engine and may be making gains in the smartphone market, but when people want to pay or be paid, they choose PayPal far more often than Google’s internet payment option, Google Checkout.  The rivals have apparently put their differences aside, however, and are rumored to be teaming up for the Android Market.  PayPal will be presented as a payment option for app shoppers who, at present, have to go through Google Checkout or use a credit card.  The deal, according to The Street is all but done and will make the checkout process easier, faster, and more convenient for Android users.

Apple manages its iTunes and app stores with aplomb, helping shoppers check out with just a click.  Android users are jealous: they have to sign in with Google Checkout or enter in their credit card data.  The new system will allow them to use their PayPal funds in a more “seamless” fashion.  It is quicker, consumers don’t have to sign in, and PayPal is a much more familiar face worldwide than is Google Checkout.  Using funds directly from PayPal, consumers now have a much more Apple-type experience – it’ll be much easier to spend that money.

Some experts expect that the smoother Android Market checkout process will be followed by music streaming and storage services from Google.

Seamless payment transactions are not the only issue that consumers have found in the Android Market.  Apps can be hard to find, which, as GigaOm points out, is ironic as Google is the top search engine in the world and software is limited in many markets.  These concerns are expected to be addressed as the deal with PayPal progresses.

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Italy is for Pizza and Mobsters

The concern about how Italians and Italian-Americans are portrayed in the media is not new; both the country and Italian-American associations in the States have objected time and time again to stereotypes that they are pizza- and pasta-loving mobsters.  From the Godfather series to the Sopranos, this image has been replayed thousands of times.  Most recently, Julia Roberts’s film Eat, Pray, Love was lambasted for its stereotypical portrayal of Italians.  Italian critic Curzio Maltese wrote, “It rains spaghetti, the Italians are always gesticulating and following foreign girls shouting vulgarities but then getting engaged to a nice housewife to please their domineering mothers, all this under the sign of “dolce far niente,’” or the “pleasant idleness” that wise old Italian mothers and hot young Italian men regularly engage in.  An Apple app is coming under fire for depending on these “outdated” stereotypes.

The app, What Country, condenses the national identity of countries around the world to a few words and graphics.  For Italy, the app features a parking sign that reads, “”Mafia parking only.”  Then the tagline, “pizza, mafia, pasta and scooters.”  They forgot gorgeous Italian models and great manicotti.

Italian tourism minister Michela Vittoria Brambilla said that What Country is “offensive and unacceptable,” adding that, “Italy is a beacon in the world for its history, culture and style. I cannot allow our country to be discredited by a criminal organization.”

Apalon vice president Peter Meinkov says, “Lots of people around the world love traveling and surprisingly even more do not.  As a frequent traveler I met many people that heard about 10 or 15 countries at most.  We wanted to change that with our What Country app that even non-travellers will want to own. It highlights only 3 or 4 key facts about each country and presents them in entertaining way that will make them laugh or smile.”

All you need to know about Italy: pizza, mafia, pasta, and scooters.  Not home of some of the greatest artists the world has ever known, or home to the historic cities of Rome and Milan or the Vatican, or even a beautiful, scenic Mediterranean paradise.  The Italian minister seems to be the only one vocal about his country’s portrayal in What Country, which would seem to be less of a traveler’s aid and more of a waste of 99 cents.  Brambilla is calling for it to be removed from the iTunes store.

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Google Goggles Hits iPhone

What is that pyramid-like structure in Giza?  You know the one with the tombs?  If you have ever wondered around Egypt wondering this, the Google Goggle app would certainly have come in handy.  With this convenient little tool, you simply point your smartphone, click a picture, and then Goggles does a visual search and points you toward your answer.  The Pyramids at Giza in this case.  Despite the silly example, this really does typify the extent of Goggle’s usefulness in identification.  Google points out that, yes, the experimental app does have trouble with foods, flora, fauna, and lesser known landmarks.  But if you ever want to identify or search for DVDs, books, famous landmarks, and product logos, you’re all set with Goggles.

A CNET review pointed out that while Goggles may not be a crack investigative or research tool, it does come in handy if you’re traveling abroad and need to figure out what the label on your drink actually reads.  What else is Goggles good for?  As mentioned, it is great for conducting visual searches of products, which could be tremendously helpful if, say, you were shopping for children’s toys and wanted to pick up the trend toy of the year or avoid the toxic, lead paint-laden, asbestos-stuffed models.  Google points out this this is a Labs product, which means its technology is relatively new: you won’t be able to Google yourself, for instance, and find results.  Unless maybe you are Brad Pitt.  But you can snap a picture of a food product and see if its claim of “all natural” is true, look up a video game for reviews or ratings before you purchase, and other useful applications.

Google Goggles has been in beta for a year and is now part of Google for iPhone app, which is available for free at the Apple Store.  Rivals Google and Apple have teamed up (or at least allowed that the other one could exist) for this app – it is worth a look.

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40 Funny And Wacky Sound Bites (Guest Post)

David Aronchick is the co-founder and CEO of Entertonement, the Web’s largest collection of sound bites and short quotes. Before Entertonement, he was a former Microsoftie, and co-founded both Marketing Technology Solutions Mateso and Formatta. In his spare time, he lives for pop culture and loves sharing his discoveries.
Whether you’re looking for a creative way to comment on someone’s Facebook status, want to cheer up your Twitter friends, or just want to shoot out a quick E-mail to make someone laugh, you can find a sound bite for every purpose.

See for yourself.

1. Need some help with your take aways?

Math Homework 911 Call sound bite
I really wish my four-year-old self had thought to call 9-1-1 for math help. Oh, who am I kidding? Math still makes me want to call 9-1-1 today!

2. Apparently, you can’t always have it your way.

Woman Calls Cops on Burger King sound bite
In case you didn’t know, when a restaurant refuses to make you a hamburger, it is not a criminal issue. I wonder if Burger King needs to post that disclaimer.

3. Drag ‘er on over to Oak Street.

Can you spell that sound bite
Hey, at least he’s a quick thinker.

4. Could you send him back my way?

Woman Calls 911 To Give Cop Her Number sound bite
We used to find creative ways to meet people. eHarmony’s ruined us all.

5. 9-1-1 is now unpublished.

911 Has Been Changed to a Non-Published Number sound bite
Something tells me we have the Burger King lady to thank for this.

6. Silence!

Silence I kill you sound bite
Achmed the Dead Terrorist: Just one of Jeff Dunham’s many ingenious creations.

7. That’s why you only take the prescribed amount.

over dose sound bite
If they were so high on pot they thought they were overdosing, imagine how crazy it was when the cops showed up.

8. Christian Bale takes David to the dentist.

Christian Bale Takes David To the Dentist sound bite
Hilariousness is the only side effect when two of the most popular memes of the past couple of years join forces. This just might be the best mash-up I’ve ever heard.

9. You don’t mess with Texas.

Angry Weather Caller sound bite
Or their ability to view quality prime time television.

10. Southwest Rapping Flight Attendant

Southwest Rapping Flight Attendent sound bite
Too bad this guy never got as much attention as Jet Blue’s Steven Slater.

11. Get a job!

sparkling wiggles sound bite
Something tells me this little girl has the answer to all our economic woes.

12. Stay away from Italians!

A Jewish Girl Prank Calls Her Parents sound bite
And to think: In my day, it took a good drunken binge before parents pulled you out of school.

13. Stay away from World of Warcraft, too!

Greatest freak out ever about Warcraft sound bite World of Warcraft sound bites
Greatest freak out ever about Warcraft sound bite
I bet he’s still not speaking to his mother. Nerd.

14. Yo’ Momma!

Yo' Momma, Doorbell sound bite
Yo’ Momma jokes never get old!

15. Now flush!

Sittin On Tha Toilet sound bite
We all have our own ways of dealing with performance anxiety.

16. Woody’s Discount Mortuary

Woody's Discount Mortuary - www.EntertainTheBrain.com sound bite
Hey, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little color before heading off into the next life.

17. Smelly Pirate Hooker!

Pirate Hooker sound bite
This unique insult definitely gets an “A” for effort!

18. Epic Fail!

Epic Fail! sound bite
Because we’ve all said it, or wanted to, at some point. I suspect more than one of you will bookmark this sound bite.

19. What? No! Have a NICE Day!

dial an asshole sound bite
Great idea for you jaded ex-girlfriends hi-tech enough to figure out how to make this your ex’s voicemail answering message.

20. Not quite as bad as crickets chirping…

Short Drum Roll with Cymbal Crash sound bite
Save this little ditty for the next time one of your Facebook friends posts a lame status.

21. Crazy Laugh

Crazy Laugh 1 sound bite
Or, you could just be polite to your Facebook friend and post this when any unfunniness ensues.

22. Poor AT&T

AT&T iPhone Debacle - EntertainTheBrain.com sound bite
Even all those orange dots can’t save them now.

23. Why yes, I am an announcer.

Funny Announcer PSA sound bite
Blossom?! What?! I miss that show. In other news, sounds like this guy’s didn’t mess around on Career Day.

24. Got any pigs in your family?

A Slang Name for Policeman sound bite
Funny, I thought that particular nickname was short for Richard. (I still don’t even know why.)

25. Should old acquaintance be forgot…

Cats Meowing Auld Lang Syne sound bite
For the cat lover in your clique this New Year’s.

26. I do!

No one gives a fuck sound bite
But only because Bradley Cooper is hot.

27. You don’t know me!

You don't know me! sound bite
Well, introduce yourself fool.

28. The best ‘Fresh Prince’ pick up lines.

The Best Fresh Prince Pick Up Lines sound bite
For every diehard Fresh Prince fan! Personally, I wouldn’t want a whole field of me, but hey – whatever works.

29. Didn’t get a limo until he was 12!

Did not have a limousine until I was 12 sound bite
Man. I am way behind.

30. Crapple Computers

Crapple Computers sound bite
Seriously though. I think I’ve owned one or three of these.

31. Laughing Toddler

Toddler Giggles 4 sound bite
Very few things can put a smile on your face as quickly as the sound of a happy baby.

32. Very Funny

Very funny sound bite
What? And here I thought TBS coined that phrase.

33. Senior Moments

Fooling old ladies sound bite
Come on, she deserved that. She thought she was talking to the Internet!

34. Wake up!

Wake up your lazy b....d sound bite
I think my old college roomie had the very same alarm. Or, should have.

35. We don’t carry that.

buttplugs sound bite
You might be able to grocery shop while you wait on your car’s oil to be changed, but you actually can’t get everything at Wal-Mart.

36. The SEO Rapper

The SEO Rapper - Design Coding sound bite
If this guy’s for real, I’d totally hire him.

37. Hide your babies!

Baby oil sound bite
Let’s just be clear here, folks: For once, Paris was NOT the lesser of two brains in this equation!

38. Boing!

Boing 1 sound bite
Probably one of the most overused sound effects of all time. Except for…

39. Pass the gas, please.

Fart21 sound bite
Oh, come on. You can’t have a list of funny sound bites without throwing at least one fart in the mix.

40. National Baked Bean Month

July is National Baked Bean Month sound bite
And…one more for the road!

Are there any other great sound bites we left off the list? Post your favorites by leaving a comment.

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