25 February 2015


Would it not be nice if you can make some money from all those hours you spend on Candy Crush and its ilks?  Well, you cannot, or at least I don't know that, but there is a group of apps, under the mPoints umbrella, that can actually make you some money.  Note that I did not say the apps will make you rich.  If there is one, I don't know yet.  But these mPoints apps can make you, say, $5 every few weeks.

I first learned about the mPoints network while playing What's The Phrase.  The game is sorta like Wheel of Fortune, where you take turn guessing letters of a phrase and solve it.  Let's say you play a game with someone and lost so you started a new game.  The action earns you a few points.  You play some more games and guess the correct phrase with just a few letters revealed.  That is called a Dedicated Achievement and earn you even more points.  Just opening the app at least once a day gets you 5 points.  You get the idea.  Just using the app as you normally would and you get points that accumulate toward different rewards.  I mostly go for $5 or $10 Amazon gift cards but if you have the patience you can save enough for Chromecast and other high-point items.

Next I started using Challenges, which tracks distance one covers on foot etc.  For me, it's basically a GPS tracker to help me log kilometers as I run or walk.  The app also supports an honor system whereby you can enter manually distance you walk or run etc.  I'm too lazy for that and rather just use the apps outdoor and let the gyroscope do the calculation.  As you may have guessed, yes you earn points for open the app at least once a day but you also get extra points for greater time duration.  For example, running 30 minutes get some points but logging an hour gets you even more.  Other Achievements include working out in the early hours, on the weekends, x days in a row.  Just use it and you get points.

While Challenges offer many activities to choose from, I use mostly Running, Walking, and Cycling.  Sometimes having too many choices turn you off, if that's the case you can use Pedometer by Runtastic.  Pedometer only records walking and is great for using indoor.  You can just hold the phone in your hand and swing it around to simulate motion but of course you would only deprive yourself the exercise of walking.

Crackle is another mPoints app that I use, although not as frequently as I want.  You basically watch movies and TV shows with Crackle to earn points.  You end up investing more time, at least 20+ minutes with shows and upward of an hour and a half with movies.  Yes, shows and movies have ads wedged into them so your watching experience is interrupted, but it is a small price to do things legit.

All mPoints apps have the check-in functions whereby you can log your presence near stores and such on a map to earn points.  Some businesses offer more points than others, so sometimes I would plan my exercise runs to pass by the high-point places.  I suppose the app's goal is to get you to patronize the business but you don't have to.  Right in my house I can log into a Rite Aid and a 7 Eleven every hours until the daily limit is reached.  Sure I buy stuff from them as needed, but you don't have to buy anything each time you check-in.

The check-in function must be popular enough so that mPoints spin it into its own apps, mPlaces.  mPlaces doesn't do anything too useful other than let you check-in.  Sure it provides a map that may be able to help if you are lost, but the whole point of mPlaces is checking-in.  Unlike the old check-in that limits 15 visits per day, mPlaces allow up to 25 visits.  There are also many ways to earn bonus points inside the app.  My favorites are the Challenges, whereby you need to visit certain locations as specified by the challenges.  For example, one past Sports Challenge required visiting a sports arena in addition to finding special coins that review certain sports ball.  I walked a little extra distance to visit Madison Square Garden but strangely it didn't register.  Luckily, before the Sports Challenge ended, I happened to be in St. Louis and was able to walk by Edward Jones Dome to clinch the challenge.  I love walking around in new places so mPlaces along with either Challenges or Pedometer do me much good.  If you drive though, mPlaces is smart enough to not allow you to check into places.  Good thing, we have enough distracted drivers as is.

Now go forth and earn some beer money with the various mPoints apps out there!


15 February 2015


At my current job, I travel frequently. Every time I pack for the trip, I am tempted to plan to not bring back some clothes, as a way of getting rid of excess clothes.  I don't buy clothes that often but I do inherit old ones from relatives and the collection grows slowly.  So far I only actually left behind only some socks that became unfit.  I also plan ahead and try to be a green traveler, by doing the following:

  • I bring along a stainless steel tumbler to drink water etc from.  If needed, I would also use it to hold water with tooth-brushing.  Starbucks has a bring-your-own although I have yet to participate.
  • Usually by the second day I would have a disposable cup from lunch to use with tooth-brushing.  The hotels provide cups, whether glass or plastic, but I'd rather re-use a disposable cups a few times.  One time I accidentally dropped a glass cup, ugh, all the more reason to re-purpose a cup from breakfast.
  • If the hotel provides silverware and the office has cereals, I would borrow a spoon to go with breakfast at work.
  • I take home all opened shampoo travel-sized bottles and unpacked bars of soaps for use at home.  I have a good stack of them to last for a while.
  • Whenever the option is there, I take mass transit to work, even though my employer provides a car for every trip.  Even when I have to get from the airport, with luggages, to the hotel.  It helps that I travel relatively light.  A weekly pass for the local subway, when used to get to the hotel, saves money from a taxi ride, which burns oil.
  • Most offices I visited have recycling bin for paper etc.  As I picked up free magazines or touristy pamphlets, I brought them to the office for recycling.
  • I always hang a Do-Not-Disturb sign and avoid having my room cleaned everyday.  I re-use the hotel towels for the entire stay, which is mostly one week long.  Another reason for the Do-Not-Disturb sign, "If it's yellow, let it mellow.  If it's brown, flush it down. " I have nothing more to say on the topic.