Tech Review: Keeping your resolutions, via apps

Apps that help users stay connected. Apps that help users stay connected. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images

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January is less than a week old, but how many of those 2014 resolutions have you already broken? These apps may help you find the resolve to keep four of the most widely made and quickly abandoned New Year's resolutions.

Noom CardioTrainer

(iOS, Android; free)

Topping the list of many New Year's resolutions is the promise to exercise more. CardioTrainer won't make the task more fun, but it will make it less tedious. The app tracks more than 20 exercise regimens, including walking, jogging, biking and even yardwork. You get a readout of calories burned, and, if applicable, a map shows distance traveled and speed. A friendly voice appears from time to time to keep you motivated, or you can listen to music stored on your device.

Diet Assistant

(iOS, Android; free)

Those holiday dinners, cakes and beverages are gone but not forgotten, especially on your waistline. While most people know what not to eat on a diet, planning nutritious and satisfying meals is harder. This app guides you with meal ideas while offering a slew of diet tools, including a body mass index (BMI) calculator and a chart that graphically displays your weight loss. If you find yourself eyeing that tray of brownies, Diet Assistant's weight-loss coach will get you back on the straight and narrow.

QuitNow!

(iOS, Android; free)

If the filled ashtray reminds you of your unfulfilled resolution to quit smoking, this app may help you fire up the willpower. Using a motivational approach to help you quit, the app tells how long you've gone without a cigarette and the money you've saved by not smoking. It also updates the potential improvement in your health the longer you go without smoking. You can connect with other quit-smoking hopefuls through the app for more encouragement.

Debt Tracker

(Android, free)

Each year, many Americans make the resolution to organize their finances. This app can track whom you owe or who owes you. Debt Tracker manages both outgoing and incoming payments and graphically shows how much you paid and what you still owe. iOS users can check out the similar Debt Payoff Assistant (free).

 

Tech bytes

 

 

Spam a lot

If you have a cellphone with a 917 area code -- one of six used for New York City -- you are probably getting lots of text messages for X-rated items and low-cost loans. Security firm Cloudmark says 917 got 58 percent of all spam messages targeted at New York City. Overall, 917 was fifth in the country for spam. No other New York area codes, including 516 and 631, made the top 25.


A new start

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Microsoft yielded to users' complaints and returned the start button in its Windows 8.1 update. There's more on the menu: a full start menu. The menu, which offers quick links to applications such as Control Panel, will be back in the next version of Windows 8, according to the Supersite for Windows website. The new version, code-named Threshold, is expected early this year.


Stolen Adobe password checker

Before the credit-card breach at Target, there was the Adobe password heist. In October the maker of Photoshop and Acrobat said 38 million customers' user IDs, email addresses and passwords were stolen. Password management firm LastPass has a secure form to check if your password was among them. Enter the email address attached to your Adobe account at lastpass.com/adobe to see if you were a victim. -- Peter King

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