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Thursday, May 21, 2015

New app may not be "fun" but will enhance your security

When we review apps for RVers, we usually shoot for the "fun and practical" side. But this time, we're going to shoot for the "practical and safety" side of life. The app is called Perp Alert – and no, it won't help you find a campground, a dump station, or record your memories around the campfire – well, the latter, maybe.

Perp Alert is designed to bring a little more security to a sometimes unsafe world. Here's the scenario in the developer's mind. You or a loved one is walking alone out to the car and suddenly, some kind of bad guy appears. You whip out your cell phone, point the camera lens at him, and immediately, three photos of the "perp" are taken, and the phone sends those photos, along with your exact GPS coordinates and a date stamp to three separate e-mail accounts of your choosing.

Taken a step farther than the imaginings of the designers, the same product could be used to take photos of a vehicle accident – particularly helpful if somebody decides to do a "hit and run." Maybe you witness a "bullying" incident, or some other nefarious activity. A complete photo record with location is whisked off to a safe, off-site location. If you need help pronto, push another button and Perp Alert calls the police for help.

OK, we can put a little "fun" back in this application. How many of us are cruising down the highway in the rig and we see something we'd really like to investigate more fully, but time or other circumstances don't permit the stop then. Pull out your cellie, punch the Perp Alert button (a distinctive, large, red icon) and shoot pics of your desire, and send the exact location back to your e-mail account.

We learned about this app through an RVing women's group, Sisters on the Fly. They think so highly of the app and its potential for enhancing security for many of its solo members they recommend the app to all members.

The cost? $2.99 for Apple and Android. Permissions include location, SMS (to send the message), phone (to directly call phone numbers), photo/media files, camera, full network access, and flashlight control (turns on the camera light to enhance after-dark images).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

My Fitness Pal: An App to Track your Diet

We’ve been living on the road in our RV for over 11 years now. I know the reality of this lifestyle now. One big misconception that I had was that life on the road would be an active life. We would be hiking, biking and kayaking everywhere we went. We would also be eating all sorts of fresh foods from farmers markets. We were leaving our friends and weekly parties behind. We would be fit and healthy as a natural byproduct of our RVing lifestyle.


If anything, life on the road can be even more sedentery and unhealthy than life in a stick and brick home. We’re still working so we sit at our computers a lot. When we’re moving it’s in a vehicle sitting in comfy seats. At least in a stationary house, you can find a preferred walking route and do it every day. On the road, you never know exactly where you are or what is around. Yes, there are ways to find out with Maps and other online resources, but you need to do that every time you move. And, don’t think that you’ll be without your friends and won’t do any partying! We meet more friends on the road than we ever had staying put, and the basic unit of camaraderie is Happy Hour!

You have to make a conscious effort to eat right and stay fit while living in an RV just like living in a house. We find that an app called MyFitnessPal can help. Fill in a few goals – like number of calories per day, and amount of weight to lose over time, and MyFitnessPal will help you stay on track. You do need to make the effort to write down what you eat, but MyFitnessPal makes it relatively easy. You can search for a food in its database. It even has things like Publix Cobb Salad, or TGIFridays Baby Back Ribs in the database. And, as you enter your normal foods, it’s really easy to select them from your “My Foods” list. You can also create “Recipes” so the next time you have your famous Chicken Cacciatore, you don’t have to figure out the calories. Very easy to add foods and track your daily calorie intake, including scanning barcodes for packaged foods.


MyFitnessPal is an App on your smartphone or tablet. It works on Apple, Android, and Windows devices as well as being a website you can access from your computer. Regardless of what device you’re using, once you’re logged in, all your information is there. Add a friend to your information and set it to share your food diary so this friend can help you stay on track.

It also can connect to other apps like Runkeeper or your Fitbit, and it will subtract calories used for exercise from the calorie intake of food.

We demonstrated MyFitnessPal in the App of the Week segment of What Does This Button Do? Episode 38. The whole show is about 40 minutes, but the segment on MyFitnessPal is only a few minutes and it starts at 32minutes and 30 seconds on the timeline. Check it out.