I have a week off from school and I plan to spend some quality time with my family and my Iphone.  Ipad, Iphone, Isurrendered.   Yes, I got an Iphone.  I got tired of people telling me that my Palm Treo should be donated to the Smithsonian.  I also wanted to have the ability to study Japanese flashcards on the fly.

Having an iPhone is like having a little television everywhere you go.  (See Don’t Watch TV).  I was hanging out with my lovely little family this weekend. We had our Macclaren stroller tuned up (yep, Pimpin’ Our Ride), shopped for pens at Muji, strolled through China town, purchased an iPhone case for my wife, and stopped at an Italian cafe to rest before the train ride home.

The whole time I was hanging out with my family, it felt like the iPhone was burning a whole in my pocket.  I wanted to check the internet and do my flashcards and I even pulled out for a few swipes.

When we got home I got all app’ed up.   With a little one year old propped on my lap, I searched iTunes for Japanese learning apps.  Then I installed them.   The girls wanted to play “put the change back in the giraffe piggy bank” and I obliged, but I kept running back to check on the progress of different downloads, etc.  As far as paying full attention to the girls, at that point I was iTuned out.

I could foam at the foam at the mouth about how it’s important to be careful about how electronic devices, split our attention and how it can be detrimental to our human connection.   However, I’d rather tell you what kinds of apps I got!:)

Kotoba! free

I was feeling the hunger for being able to study Japanese when I was out of the reach of internet.  This little program has a dictionary and allows you to look up kanji using several methods, including by school level and by levels of the Japanese Proficiency Level Test (JLPT).

Japanese  ($9.99)

This program was recommended by my Japanese learning fellow traveler, Rob.  It functions as a J-E, E-J dictionary and also has a ton of sample sentences for each word.  If you don’t understand a word in a sentence, you can just touch it and voila–more words to learn.   You can also create flashcards for each word.   What’s great about the flashcards is that you can hit the little “i” icon and get more information and sample sentences.   Sentences are the best way to learn words.

 Midori ($9.99)

Midori has similar functions to the Japanese program.  It has sample sentences but I like how the Japanese app allows me to see each individual sentence in larger font.   Midori allows you to create flashcards and also has the added bonus of being able to draw kanji on the screen.  I like that I can read a book, look up a word and then make a flashcard out of it.

Shakespeare from PlayShakespeare.com

After weeks of reading cheesy self-help fair (and loving it!), I felt a need to wax poetic and I looked up Shakespeare apps.  I headed straight towards Hamlet.   Even though I just in the first act, I’m already getting the poetic spice my mind was craving.  “Disasters in the sun.”  Wicked.

iSamurai, iWarning

I have to be careful with the iPhone, both literally and figuratively.  A guy in Williamsburg was pushed on to the tracks by two thieves who wanted to take his iPhone while he was reading the Bible.  (The Bible!)  Luckily he’s okay (and the news explained that the thieves didn’t get away with his iPad).   There are also tremendous human costs in the production of creating products like iPods, iPads, etc.  as the New York Times has recently pointed out.

There’s also just the fact that electronic devices can just take me away.   Sometimes, you just have to look up from your apps and look at the balmy February sky!