Apps to help with Thanksgiving and beyond

An Apple iPad, left, next to a Samsung An Apple iPad, left, next to a Samsung Galaxy Tab during the 50th International consumer electronics fair in Berlin. (Sept. 2, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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There is much to be thankful for heading into the holiday season, including the ability to plan and celebrate holidays with our smartphones and tablets. Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner, traveling over the weekend or trying to mitigate against a food coma and holiday weight gain, you should appreciate any of these five mobile apps:

Butterball Cookbook Plus

(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, $4.99)

Are you in charge of Thanksgiving dinner this year? Want to spice up your family's boring traditional recipes? Find new and tasty Thanksgiving recipes with Butterball Cookbook Plus. The app includes extremely helpful hands-free voice commands for navigating recipes. There also is a shopping list builder. If you are looking for more of a general-purpose cookbook app for Thanksgiving, try iCookbook. That app also will run you $4.99 when downloaded to an iOS or Android device.

Gratitude Journal 365

(iPhone, iPod Touch, $0.99)

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What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving? This is the perfect time of year to start a gratitude journal that allows you to express what you are thankful for each and every day so you don't miss out on the little things in life that make every day worthwhile. Start one this Thanksgiving with the Gratitude Journal 365 app, and add meaningful photos to each journal entry. Don't forget to ask everyone at your Thanksgiving table to say what they are thankful for before eating. Then add a photo of your family as your Thanksgiving Day entry!

Delectable Wine

(iPhone, iPod Touch, free)

Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general are a great time to start building on your wine knowledge. With the free Delectable Wine app, you can simply snap a photo of the bottles of wine you love and start building your digital wine cellar. It is a fabulous way to save notes on what you like and don't like about each wine. You can also tag friends and family members in notes so that you can all remember on Thanksgiving who likes to drink merlot and who is more of a pinot noir fan.

Calorie Counter &

Diet Tracker by MyFitnessPal

(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, free)

Odds are you are going to eat more on Thanksgiving and thereafter than you typically do. Most likely you will also lounge around watching football and TV specials with the family instead of keeping up with your normal fitness routine. You know the weight-loss rules: If you eat more, then you have to burn more calories to maintain your weight. During the holidays, track workouts with the apps by MyFitnessPal.

FlightTrack -- Live Flight

Status Tracker

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(iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, $4.99)

Even if you aren't personally traveling on Thanksgiving, maybe you'll be tasked with picking up friends or family from the airport. FlightTrack delivers real-time flight statuses, including boarding and arrival gates, delays and cancellations. You can view flights on a map as well as with interactive flight cards. FlightTrack spans 16,000 airports worldwide, tracking 1,400 airlines on a global scale.


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Tech bytes

Calm on the Surface

Microsoft unveiled its Windows Surface last month with great fanfare, but how is the tablet faring with consumers? Chief executive Steve Ballmer, known for his bold sales predictions, was constrained in an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien. Ballmer said sales had started "modestly" because the tablet is only available directly from Microsoft. Ballmer also said Microsoft would soon roll out a "high-end" Surface with a higher-resolution screen.

Shaking the tree

Hanging a Christmas tree ornament takes dexterity. Try doing it with your mouse. A digital tree decorating tomorrow through Wednesday allows computer users to remotely put a real ornament on a tree by controlling a robotic arm with their mouse. It's for a good cause: A $5 donation to Toys for Tots will be made by ornaments maker ScentSicles and artificial Christmas tree designer Balsam Hill for each attempt. Go to TheCommunitree.com.

Gadget reviews at Target

Target will feature reviews of consumer electronics in its stores this holiday season. Technology news website CNET will provide the reviews, which will be available on Target's website. In the stores, Target will feature "CNET Editors' Pick" signs alongside about 25 products. Customers can use their smartphones to access the QR code on each sign to read a full-length review.

-- PETER KING

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