5 Apps for the weekend warrior

Getting through the work week is hard enough for most of us... but the minute Friday afternoon rolls around, there's a certain breed that face the weekend with a long list of "honey do" projects and household duties. Yes, the weekend warriors need iPhone app love too -- whether to help with those maintenance challenges, or find ways to make the break from the day job a bit more enjoyable. Here's a five app collection just for you, my brothers and sisters in the two-day sprint; enjoy.

Weber's On The Grill[iTunes link] for iPhone, at $4.99, would seem to be a bit pricey compared to other grill-centric cooking apps selling for $0.99 (dadoo's Grill Guide) or the large number of free and well-regarded cookbook apps on the store (check out Epicurious Recipies & Shopping List, for one). Nevertheless, if you're serious about getting the most out of your grill, the $5 you spend on this app will be well worth it.

Weber may be the world's largest grill manufacturer, but the relationship of Weber owners to their grills feels more personal than mass-marketed; in fact, the slightly obsessive and cultish fandom around the Weber brand may seem a wee bit familiar to, uh, owners of a particular company's computers, music players and cellphones. Ahem.

The iPhone app takes the Weber customer very seriously, providing a great collection of hundreds of recipes along with grilling technique guides (including videos from chef Jamie Purviance), time and temperature recommendations, a handy shopping list manager, and a convenient cooking timer right in the app. About the only thing that's missing is an optional meat thermometer to plug into the dock connector (which I would totally buy if they made one).


The Weber app looks terrific, with mouthwatering food photos and a red & black, steakhouse-esque design aesthetic -- masculine but not overbearing. See the gallery above for a look at it. It's also built with a clever hybrid local/network approach for the rich media content; the images are downloaded on demand, so if you use the app on a disconnected device you can still read the recipes and tips even if you don't see the pictures.

At the moment, Weber's On The Grill is near the top of the paid Lifestyle charts in the App Store (with some heavy front-screen promotion from Apple, to be sure); there's still plenty of grilling season left this summer, so if you find yourself looking for a way to spice up Old Smokey, this app may be just the ticket.

For those projects around the homestead that seem to be just a hair outside your competency rating, there's the Howcast app [iTunes link], based on the video-how-to site. You can easily search and view the site's enjoyable and informative videos; not all of them are going to be 100% helpful (how to feng shui your bedroom, anyone?) but there's enough good stuff in the mix to make it worth a try if you're repainting a chair or cleaning stains from the wallpaper. The Howcast app is free.

Any homeowner worth his or her salt knows the old carpenter's maxim "Measure twice, cut once" -- and everyone of us has blown off that advice as old-fashioned foolishness, only to end up with a lopsided shed or a stool that frequently dumps people onto the floor. Even once you measure out your whole project, getting all the numbers right can be a drag; that's where the Carpenter's Helper line of building calculators comes into play [iTunes link], available in lite/free, standard ($4.99) and pro ($9.99) versions. The feature list starts with the basics of unit conversion and calculation, and ramps up to include full dimensioning for walls, stairs and roof projects.

Moving from the practical to the horticultural, if you're planning to spend some of the weekend tending to the green stuff, check out the Garden ToDo app, $1.99 from Building Rainbows [iTunes link]. You can organize your gardening tasks by priority or schedule (in case a batch of seeds has to go in on a particular date), and link each to-do to a picture to remind you of how those petunias are supposed to look. A general-purpose task manager could probably pick up a bit of the slack here, but for the garden-obsessed it may be nicer to keep all the raking, mulching and weeding in one place.

Finally, when all your weekend working, planting and grilling is done and you're looking for a bargain-priced adult refreshment, there's a very specialized search app at your service: Happy Hour Finder iTunes link, also known as Power Happy Hour. This $1.99 17+ app (yes, if you're going to have an app that tells you where to go drink, it's got to be 17+ if not 21+) uses your location to display a map of nearby establishments featuring discount libations on the day of your choice; drill down to see the specific deals, phone number and location. Just the thing after a hot day behind the grill or in the garden.

Have a great weekend, everyone!