Saturday, September 25, 2010

WolframAlpha And AppShopper

WolframAlpha is an amazing app. Purportedly you can find information immediately  on just about any topic. I purchased the app on an impulse the day I purchased my iPad.  Maybe I thought I'd feel smarter just from having the app on this dandy Apple device. The app only cost a $1.99 and I figured it gave me access to the WolframAlpha cloud-based supercomputer. But for what?
My first WolframAlpha query was Pi. I don't know why I even remember Pi. But it seemed like an intelligent thing to query. The results would have been satisfying if I really cared anything about Pi. The three things I remember about Pi are: It determines the circumference of a circle when multiplied by the diameter, my math teachers years ago in high school mentioned it a lot, and in one original Star Trek episode Captain Kirk asked the ship's computer to determine the value of Pi as a means to overwhelm it and retake control of the Starship Enterprise. Why the computer on an intergalactic battleship capable of warp speed would be overwhelmed determining the value of Pi is beyond me. But who said Star Trek is real? I've never met a Vulcan in real life. 
My second query was Richard Feynman, the late Nobel Laureate. I find him more interesting than Pi. Again, WolframAlpha produced a list of satisfying results if I wanted to spend some time researching both the person and his work. For my third query I searched on my name, Robert Paul Leitao. The results: Nada. Nothing. Zilch. I was humbled by a $1.99 iPad app. 
A few weeks after I bought the Wolfram Alpha app it went on sale for $.99 as a back-to-school special. I felt duped. If I had only waited a few weeks it would have cost one dollar less to be humbled. I really didn't mind being humbled by WolframAlpha. But I would have preferred it be done on the cheap. 
In searching for ways to save money in the iTunes app store I discovered AppShopper. It's a free iOS app that tracks changes in prices of apps available through iTunes. I'm always looking for deals on apps and AppShopper assists in finding the most popular free apps and apps with recent price changes. Downloading AppShopper is a smart move. Soon after downloading and installing the app I felt smarter already. I use it regularly to track apps and discover new apps I might not find searching on my own through the iTunes app store. 
For students needing easy access to a massive information source for research and for those of us who enjoy searching for information of many different kinds, the WolframAlpha app is an amazing tool. It's worth the purchase even at $1.99. AppShopper is a free app download and is a fast and easy way to discover new apps and apps that have recently gone on sale. I recommend both apps for iPad owners. 

Robert Paul Leitao

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