app review

App Review: Hello Talk Language Exchange

HelloTalk is a mobile app available to Android and iOS users. Sign-up and essential app functions are free; however, for $0.99 per month (or $2.99 for 3 months/$9.49 per year), extra app functions are available to users. The app supports over 100 languages.

The premise of HelloTalk is to connect language learners with native speakers with the goal of practicing language and making friends or language partners. This is an especially useful resource for people who are learning Korean on their own or do not have access to native speakers in their area. You can search for language partners based on a number of criteria like age range, gender, native language, target language, and location. An especially nice feature is that you can also control who finds you. This is one of the many privacy protection features of the app that keep things safe and language-focused. (For example, no pornographic images are allowed, and the app has technology to detect those kinds of images and prohibit them. Profile photos cannot be enlarged. You can also block or report users.)

Once you find a good match, you can send other users a language partner request. Chats include a multitude of features that are conducive to language learning. A free/basic membership includes photo sharing, translation/transliteration/transcription of sent messages, audio messages, free voice calls, and doodling/handwritten messages. There are also a number of emoticons that can be used in text messages. Another feature is grammar correction. If your language partner makes a spelling or grammar mistake, you can easily correct their grammar and a new text will be sent to them with their attempt, the correct way of saying it, and your comments.

A pro membership includes unlimited translation, transliteration, and transcription; the option of viewing chat history; customizable translation language from chat settings; notes of up to 1,000 characters; and an increased group chat member limit of 50 people (as opposed to 30). For a separate fee, you have the option of stating on your profile that you are learning and teaching an additional language.

The only downsides that I have come across in my 1+ years of using this app are that some users try to use it as a dating app and that users also have the tendency to disappear/stop using the app after several months. However, both of these things are to be expected on the internet, and HelloTalk tries to inhibit inappropriate communications. Furthermore, many users do stay on the app for a long time and ask for other social media information to stay in touch when they stop using the app. Sometimes there are problems or bugs within the app, but HelloTalk employees are very quick to fix them and let users know of potential issues.

Even without a pro membership, this app is an extremely valuable resource to anyone who is learning a language, especially those studying Korean. It has the benefit of acting almost like an instant messaging/text messaging app, which makes it easy to use, but also has features allowing longer and in-depth communication. HelloTalk currently has a large number of users who speak Korean and want to learn other languages like English. Practice is often the way to access your foreign language more easily, and I believe that apps like this one can make the difference between knowing concepts and being able to practically speak and write (at least, HelloTalk made that difference for me).

Summary: HelloTalk is a mobile app available to Android/iOS users for language exchange. It has a number of useful features to help language partners practice their target language and help others learn their native language. It is easy to use and free to sign up. A pro membership is not necessary to benefit from the app but is affordable and includes additional features to make language exchange easier. I highly recommend it to learners of Korean and other languages.


I want to showcase a little app I purchased yesterday called Toca Nature, it’s labeled as a kid’s app but it has a lot to offer to older folks too. You start off with a square area of space, you can manipulate the surface to included snow capped mountains, deep valleys and waterways. You can add several varieties of trees, each with their own respective animal: Deer, Beaver, wolf, fox, woodpecker, rabbit and bear. 

Once you’ve made your world and it’s inhabitants, you can interact with them by feeding them and taking pictures, as seen above. They’re always moving around and doing things, there is a day and night cycle and each animal has it’s own schedule, so there’s a lot going on you might not notice on your first play-throughs. You can also cut down trees and drain waterways but that makes them sad. But there are no deaths, no competitive elements, just world building. It’s really relaxing, reflective and the music is enchanting, making it ideal for those with anxiety or stress, and for lovers of cute things.

What I’d love to see in the future is the ability to save your world and possibly share it with others, but for now I’ll have to screen cap it. I heard more things will be added in the future.

Heaven & Hell, Pt. 1
  • Heaven & Hell, Pt. 1
  • Vangelis
  • Cosmos: A Personal Voyage

An Open Letter (& Apple Store Review) To Tumblr…

Over four years ago I started a Tumblr account after hearing about it through a friend, surprisingly, since I’ve had previous social media accounts since AOL.

I realized quite gradually as I interacted with it via “conversation” among my peers the absence of “life” and simultaneously, the perils of Facebook hitting me as the pop-culture-mini-mall imprisonment beckoned, torturing me within my locality and the pseudo-reality it projected.

Facebook does not care about you. When you sign up -assuming you’re being honest with yourself and put in the correct information- you become intertwined with the drama that is other peoples lives and a smorgasbord of perspectives on the world - or worse - swayed by misleading information that no one cares to research and validate. Essentially, Facebook is a smorgasbord of ignorance and false understanding of what the rest of humanity, hell - the world - actually looks like.

While in my own quest to involve myself with the world I reside in and the other human beings that I share it with, the transition onto Tumblr was a natural, gradual -albeit inevitable- process. More and more people are gaining access to information. And there are those of us who want to discuss the world and our place and time along our planet’s history, appropriately being honest with ourselves.

Science and technology are serving more than just a means to generate simple conventions to keep us meandering along, teasing philosophy and tuning out everything we’ve ever been struggling to understand. The world, earth, and the neighborhood of 14.5 billion years-worth of cosmic neighbors we are but one dainty yet beautiful stone - pushing forth with as much as we may to become a skipping stone of life amidst a very large pond we refer to as the universe, the cosmos.

A Reassuring Fable [thesaganseries]

Carl Sagan (among many, many others) became a guiding torch of scientific literacy on the path to confident uncertainty and the golden rule of “no absolute truths.” This produced immeasurable consequences amongst a family of “Christian” parents who interpret the Biblical Scripture literally and never converse about well…anything…anything palatable anyway.

“Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”

The blog, sagansense, became a place where I could share information and interact with others by engagement of the topics and perpetual motion of progress amongst our global society. As of this writing, my blog, an ode to Carl Sagan, is approaching 16.5 thousand followers and family. It’s become a community (and #tag) I’ve been editor of for over a year now, and truly grateful for, as a respected science communication blog amongst the (Tumblr) world which has ignited in me a similar guiding torch for others, for as much time on the cosmic timeline I exist (in this form, anyway).

An open letter to Tumblr and staff… thank you. I’m currently in the pursuit of making this my career so I can get paid to evolve this blog and further expand my reach and efforts. … <3

Stars and thumbs up do not provide you enough to understand how Tumblr has expanded the world around me so directly where distance and time are the only separation from everyone and anyone. It provides a medium to understand the digital pop tart that is the traffic jam of society and progress. Learn, speak, share, communicate, or stand back and admire the fantastic circus of reality (and tragedy) in motion while on board Spaceship Earth we sail through the waves of the cosmic ocean.

From Rich, aka sagansense, York, Pennsylvania. For Carl. And most affectionately, may it serve as a cyber-organic time capsule for my son to whom I wish to assist steering humanity and life toward a better present and future.

Ad Astra per aspera.*


So here’s a trick. Just as the moon affects us, the tides do too. Whenever I’m feeling really tired and I don’t know why, I check the tides and see yep! It’s low tide. (And then I immediately feel better instead of thinking there is something wrong.) It may also be more powerful for anyone by the ocean as opposed to midland. This is an app called TideTrac for iPhone. If you want to get in tune with natural rhythms and figure out how the tides affect you, this is a great tool.

December Studyblr Challenge

Day 4 | Routine |

Oh gosh, I’m falling behind on this already. First task of the day, get caught up.

Instead of talking about my physical bedtime routine, I want to give a shout-out to my favorite apps that I always check before bed.

1. MediSafe - for anyone who takes medication on the regular, this app is a really good one for tracking meds and reminders to take meds. I have all of my medications listed on there, including ones I take occasionally (because I’m paranoid I’m going to end up in the hospital one day and the doctors are going to need to know what all I’ve taken…). It also has cute little reminder sounds that you can set to go off at certain times (I’ve been using the Austin Powers one, because he’s fucking hilarious). (x)

2. Eve - a must for anyone who menstruates or has sex. It’s a period tracker, but it also allows you to track symptoms like bloating, headaches, mood, acne, and fatigue. I also really love that you can input when you’ve had sex, what kind of sex (protected, unprotected, masturbation, or “banana free” as they put it >.< ) AND how good the sex was. Just for future reference. (x)

3. UP - Like FitBit, but I like it better. The more basic UP trackers still track your sleep, unlike the most basic FitBits. It’s very colorful and cheerful, and allows you to track sleep, exercise, step counts, and food intake. It even gives the food you eat a score out of 10. (I’m working my way up to 10, but most days I’m around 6 or 7). (x) (x)

4. Pacifica - I found this app from one of Buzzfeed’s “Things to Try this Month” articles. It’s a very useful app for people who have anxiety or mood swings. It lets you rate your mood and give further details, choose an anxiety-related goal, and helps you to complete that goal with little day-to-day tasks such as “Smile at a Stranger” or “Ask a Question in Class”. You can also see your mood fluxuations on a weekly basis. (x

Review: FoodMaestro App
External image

Growing up I had no food allergies, though I remember being tested to try and get to the bottom of why my eczema would sometimes flare up. It’s not unheard of for people to grow out of some allergies, but I managed to grow into some.

I turned vegetarian when I was 13, before the days of Quorn and Linda McCartney products, after about ten years of vegetarianism I developed an intolerance to…

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So, for those DBZ lovers who want to have a little bit of fun with phone apps, I have here the 1.0 version of Kamehameha Blast for androids.
This is a simple yet easy and fun little app that gives you the feel of being able to do a Kamehameha Blast with sounds and all.
First you charge up the Kamehameha (which can be a little loud and can’t be altered prior to charge), then you thrust your energy ball (phone) and Fire, thus shooting out a ray of lights from your flash and your phone vibrates to give you a feel of the released Kamehameha.
I thought this was a very well done app and compared to whats on the App Store, it is one of the better versions (that’s for sure). A bit of fun and easy to use. Thanks kvantnaveverica for letting me put this app under review.
I recommend this app for those who are Dragon Ball enthusiasts who are looking for a FREE APP to have some fun with.
Constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

So this app called DIGIT is this super easy and clean application that helps you save money. You link your bank account to it and it intelligently tracks your spendings such as your scheduled bills, and even dinner outings and it will pull out a really small amount of money and pull it into DIGIT’s Federally insured savings account to help you save over time. In the beginning it will start small, maybe $5 a week or even less than that, but over time, as it starts to pull more information from your spendings, it will start to more intelligently calculate your spendings. 

Sign up and try it out, it’s completely free and worth the 5 minutes it takes to set it up. Who doesn’t like saving money? 


So recently, I got this app called ClearFocus. I’ve had it for a month (?) now, and it’s a mixture of the Pomodoro Timer and a record keeper.

For me, it’s a great way to manage my time. In my opinion, it’s a great motivator and a visual remember to study.

On the first picture, you can change what classes you’re studying. For example, if you have 3 classes you have to study for, you can just erase one subject and replace it with another.

You can also go into settings and either increase/decrease your work session (studying), or increase/decrease your breaks. There are more options, like disabling distracting acts/Internet connection, or play a sound/vibrate when the session ends. When I start studying, and press play, the app turns my notification sound from vibrate to silent, which is pretty cool.

You’re also able to see your progress for your different classes and how many sessions you’ve spent studying. You can even see your progress for that day, a week, or a month.

Honestly, it’s a really great app! I’m glad I have a visual representation of my studying progress. For me, it just a great motivator for studying. It’s super easy to use, and the settings/setup are clear and straightforward. I have this app for Android, so I’m pretty sure it’s available for iPhone.


I tried #ABeautifulMess—the current No. 1 top paid photo app (99 cents) today. Here are my thoughts:

• Thumb up: The differential factor from other apps is the ready-made, embedded doodles/texts overlays or phrases. And you can change the color of the doodles. That is cool! The frames or borders are also cute. The app also offers 10 backgrounds.

• Thumb down: There are only six filters and four text fonts. You have to pay extra for more choices (99 cents for each set of fonts, borders, arrow and symbol doodles and new phrases). Another weakness is you can’t add those doodles and phrases all in one time. You have to save each first before adding anything.

• Bottom line: If you already have bunch of overlays or doodles and apps with hundreds of filters and text fonts, you don’t need this app. But if you want convenience and don’t mind paying 99 cents to start out, it’s a good app to try.

Cutest Checklist App

So apparently, the Timeful App I posted about before is shutting down… Fortunately, I’ve found another great app to help us studyblrs with our studying (especially for the IB students who need to fit in their CAS as well)…

It’s called Checky it’s THE cutest checklist app and is quite ingenious. It is a fairly new app and is obviously not the best, but I’m hoping for updates to come soon. Here’s a quick little review…

Here’s what the app looks like after you’ve set your to-do’s up. It has the cutest design (and I haven’t chosen the best colours) but you can easily turn it into your own personalised checklist with the range of colours and icon types they have.

You can create to-do’s…

Or you can allocate time for a certain activity… 

When you’ve done what you need to do you can check them off like this:

If you’ve allocated time to do certain tasks, a tap will start the timer and buzzer will let you know when your time is up… (just make sure you have your volume up, the alarm’s on the quiet side)

The only down side is that the user interface isn’t up to scratch BUT GIVE IT SOME TIME THIS APP WILL HOPEFULLY BE UP AND RUNNING IN NO TIME.

Before anyone asks - I only have an iPhone, I don’t know if this exists for Androids (I don’t have a clue how anything other than Apple works, sorry!) AND ALSO, type in Checky for iPhone in the App Store if you want to download it and it should come up!