Thursday, 30 December 2010

managing personal finances

I’ve spent hours of my life toiling over virtual cities in Maxis’ Sim City series, and it must have rubbed off after all these years. I still enjoy meticulously planning infrastructure, zoning and carefully tweaking finances to this day.

The other day whilst trying to work, I accidentally (oops) went looking for some online heirs to the Sim City throne. Despite simple Flash games lacking the depth of even the original Sim City, I guessed there had to be a few decent, free city building games out there.



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A simple turn-based Flash game created by New Zealand energy company Genesis Energy to give players young and old a shot at managing a town or city’s growth and impact. Players must pay close attention to the levels of energy used, sustainability and environmental factors.

Players are given 151 turns to alter tax rates, build things, destroy things and generally oversee the planning of a city from an environmental point of view. It is up to you to keep your citizens happy, maintain finances and get the highest score possible out of 100 available points.

If you’re seeking inspiration then there’s plenty of completed cities to gawp at, and you can even save your progress and come back to it at a later point. Remember – it’s all about balance.

IBM CityOne

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A very in-depth city management game that allows you to choose one of four aspects of city life to manage – energy, water, retail and banking. This game also uses a turn-based system which scores you after each turn made.

There’s a fairly chunky registration form to fill out before you can play (which asks for all sorts of intrusive data) but the game itself functions well, especially if you’re a business-minded individual.

Your city starts off sketchy and greyscale, with colour gradually introduced as you implement much-needed change. At times it plays like a big advert for IBM, but remains enjoyable and looks pretty good to boot. Probably not great on slower PCs, especially those with an aversion to resource-heavy Flash.

City Creator

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Not necessarily a simulation or a management game, City Creator simply allows you to do just that – create a sprawling landscape from a set of pre-fabricated buildings and features.

The game features charming pixel art from and an isometric viewpoint, which complements the laid back style of play. Simply drag items from the left hand side of the screen to your city on the right and see what you come up with.

There are 3 building sets to choose from, each with their own unique style. If you register on the site you can save your creations and share them with your friends. If you just want to build a city then City Creator should entertain for a while at least. Be sure to check out their other project Castleford.

Zanpo Virtual Cities

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Lovers of Minecraft and pixel art rejoice in this Flash block-based city building game. Instead of building preset structures and features Zanpo Virtual Cities allows you to build fairly detailed city blocks using individual building pieces.

Users then vote on the best ones, and they get added to the virtual city. This one strikes me a bit like online Lego, and the emphasis is very much on building and not management.

You’ll need to register to build, or you can simply choose a city from the drop down list and click City View and see what everybody else has been building.


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I know, I know. You’re sick of FarmVille, so why on earth do you want to hear about CityVille? Well considering there’s already more than 20 million people playing it I figured it would be an injustice to not include it on the list.

If you’re fine with yet another application accessing all your personal data and posting whatever it feels like to your wall then CityVille might appeal. The game is a casual Sim City-esque sim in which you take a humble town and turn it into a sprawling metropolis.

Graphically the game looks awesome, and there’s the added social interactions provided by the Facebook platform. If only it didn’t clog up your feeds, eh?

There are a few more Facebook games, that I’ve left out (it’s quite a saturated market, and Facebook isn’t for everyone).  If you’re interested, they were:

  • Social City
  • Millionaire City
  • Hollywood City

Have you found any other cool city building games? Do you prefer building or managing? Let us know in the comments!

Image Credit : Shutterstock

We are mere days away from 2011, and still happily ensconced in the holiday madness of 2010. This jolly season, which usually kicks off at Halloween, is a fast-moving fog of candy, cookies, cards and frenzy at the malls. It is also hopefully full of joy, laughter and quality time with family.

After the season’s last hurrah on New Year’s, what emerges is a renewed sense of spirit for the coming year –- and sometimes a desire to undo everything that has just been done. This is precisely why most people hit the ground running on January 1 with a resolve to lose weight, get in shape, walk the dog more, and so on.

The following roundup contains apps that can serve as trusty sidekicks to help you keep those resolutions you swear you’ll actually follow through on this year. In addition to personal health, other common resolutions include managing finances more efficiently, quitting smoking, finding a better job and finding love. There are obviously many more apps out there for each category, but I’ve hand-picked twelve to help you get 2011 off to a good start. Happy New Year!

Losing Weight/>

Lose It!/>

Lose It is a great, easy-to-use app that provides users with features for managing and tracking their weight loss and fitness goals. With an extensive database of foods and nutritional information available, you can simply scroll through the options and log what you have consumed for the day to get a total calorie count. The app also tracks calories burned through fitness and shows where you’ve gone over or under your caloric requirements for weight loss each day.

Cost: FREE

Go Meals/>

A dieter’s dilemma: You’re eating out at a restaurant and have no idea what the best choices are that are still suitable for your dieting needs. Go Meals is a helpful app for those moments when you’re out at P.F. Chang’s and want to know if the Mongolian Beef is less caloric than the Orange Peel Beef (it’s not). This app also includes thousands of listings for grocery store foods and provides full nutritional information for foods you eat on a daily basis. When an item has been chosen, you can save them to “Today’s Plate” and keep a log of your caloric, fat and protein intake. A very handy tool.

Cost: FREE

Getting in Shape/>

Fitness Free/>

This is a great free app that provides photographs and detailed steps for each of its more than 320 exercises. Essentially every major muscle group is reflected and you can use this app to get good ideas for triceps, quads or any other body part that you want to improve. There is also a section offering a small selection of pre-bundled, three-day workouts, or you can select exercises of your choosing and create your own customized workout.

Cost: FREE


iPersonalTrainer prompts users to create a workout and select which muscle groups they want to work by pointing to them on a (very buff) illustrated man. The app then takes you to a page with instructional videos for each exercise along with tips for good technique. The app also includes a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator, weight tracker and progress log so you can keep track of your workouts while you get that hard body.

Cost: $.99

Organizing Finances/>

Pay Off Debt/>

Pay Off Debt provides a good template for users to track and manage all current balances and debts. Using an intuitive interface and the debt snowball method, this app lets you prioritize debts and see estimated times left to pay off each one. You can plan monthly payments for each and view progress bars as you begin chipping away at what’s owed. Based on your payment schedule, the app will also provide you with a date for when you are completely debt-free.

Cost: $3.99


Mint is a free app that automatically syncs all of your financial information directly from your online banking accounts, eliminating the need to manually enter all information. You can set up budgets and categories with spending limits on each; track your incoming and outgoing income; track investment accounts and more. The app also alerts you to things like large purchases, when a check clears, or if you go over budget. In addition, security measures are in place to lock iPhoneclass="blippr-nobr">iPhone access if lost or stolen.

Cost: FREE

Quitting Smoking/>

MyQuit Coach/>

MyQuit Coach is a highly-personalizable plan to help smokers quit. Users can set the parameters for the plan and upload personal photos and inspirational motivators to stay on track, and the app awards users with achievement badges when quitting goals have been reached. The app also connects to Facebookclass="blippr-nobr">Facebook, Twitterclass="blippr-nobr">Twitter and LIVESTRONG for additional moral support and information for users.

Cost: $3.99


Quitter is an app that takes a slightly different approach. This lets users track progress by reminding them how long they’ve been smoke-free and how much money they have saved thus far. Users can refer to the app on a daily basis and keep track of how long they’ve gone without smoking and what they would have spent if they had continued.

Cost: FREE

Getting a Better Job/> Jobs/>

As one of the largest job search sites available, the app is a great complement for anyone with a Monster account (which is free to register) and gives users access to the same listings they’d find online. The app automatically syncs with your web-based account and enables you to access saved job listings, resumes, saved searches and more from your iPhone. You can also use the iPhone’s built-in GPS system to locate jobs near you.

Cost: FREE

What Color is Your Parachute?/>

You’ve found the job you want, but the next step is the interview. The expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” couldn’t be truer when it comes to this opportunity, which is likely the only time you have to sell yourself and demonstrate why you are a fit for the job. The What Color is Your Parachute? app is a complement to the eponymous job-seekers’ “bible” and walks users through the job interview process and how to nail it. Tips on interview questions and questions to ask are featured, as well as top 10 mistakes to avoid. It’s a good read for anyone who is preparing for a big interview.

Cost: FREE

Finding Love/>

Dating DNA/>

Unlike other dating apps that require you to have an existing subscription to its web-based site, or are sketchier and only use GPS-navigation to track “singles near you,” Dating DNA is a free app and service that matches people based on compatibility scores. When you are deemed compatible by the app, based on both your ratings, you are then able to view each other’s profiles and connect. The app also provides “at-a-glance” compatibility scoring and dating potential indicators to help you determine if your potential mate is worth pursuing.

Cost: FREE

Love Survival Kit/>

If you need help in the love department and are looking for advice on what to do in certain situations, wikiHow’s Love Survival Kit is a good resource to have. There is plenty of information and dating advice for categories like “Awkward Situations” (ex. Escape Cuddling in Bed); “Breaking Up” (ex. Keep a Friendship After a Breakup) or “Relationship Skills” (ex. Stop Being Needy). Some of articles can be more funny than useful, but then again, sometimes with dating, people need all the help they can get.

Cost: FREE

Which apps did you find most useful? How do you plan to jumpstart your New Year’s resolutions? Let us know in the comments below.

More iPhone Resources from Mashable:

- 10 iPhone Apps for the Global Foodie/> - 10 Useful iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts, Tips and Tricks/> - 10 Incredible iPhone Portrait Photographs/> - 10 Incredible iPhone Photographs/> - 10 Ridiculous iPhone Accessories [PICS]

Image courtesy of spapax

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