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Tech Tips

Los Angeles' Latest Apps

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When I first came to Los Angeles back in the last century, I was armed with the cutting-edge technology of the day: a Thomas Guide book of maps. Because L.A. County is about 4,000 square miles, this tome was only slightly thinner than the Hong Kong yellow pages. I typically searched it while I drove (the old-school version of texting while driving and no less stupid), furiously flipping pages while I zipped past L.A'.s fantastically unhelpful freeway signage. (I'm still baffled, 20 years later, as to why consecutive entrances to the 101/Hollywood Freeway inform you that you're going north, west, south, or east without regard to the pesky reality of which direction the freeway is headed. Such are the mysteries of L.A.'s signage.)

Luckily, apps designed for the iPhone and the Android operating system will help you navigate Los Angeles in ways that would have been sheer science fiction to the brothers Thomas. I'm starting with this topic because, other than our acting careers, navigating the streets of L.A. is an omnipresent challenge. Under that banner, try:

Google Maps (Free, iPhone/Android), to check the best route and observe traffic patterns (checking this before you've hopped on the freeway will save you hours of bumper-to-bumper headaches). The Android version also offers "voice" turn-by-turn directions.

Waze GPS & Traffic (Free, iPhone/Android). With turn-by-turn "voice" directions, this app's social networking ability lets you tell other drivers about trouble spots you've encountered in real time. Dozens of other navigation apps are available, but some are quite expensive, so try the free ones first.

Gas Buddy ($2.99, iPhone/coming soon to Android), to find the cheapest, closest gas station.

Parker (Free, iPhone/Android), uses sensor feeds installed in parking meters to let you know where to find open spaces and sets a timer that alerts when your meter is about to expire.

Yelp (Free, iPhone/Android). When I needed a car mechanic, 18 glowing user-generated reviews ("This is the most honest mechanic I have ever been to....") led me to a repairman in my neighborhood whom I love more than members of my own family.

Craigslist Mobile (Free, iPhone/Android), for apartment hunting and deals on used furniture.

Westside Rentals (Free, iPhone/Android). It's $60 for 60 days of apartment listings—very useful when you're on the go.

Now, to Your Career

Call Sheet ($9.99/iPhone only). This app offers contact information for every talent agent, manager, casting director, and production company in L.A. and NYC. Formerly known as The Ross Reports, it might be one of the most worthwhile apps for any actor. (Full disclosure: I write for the company that makes this app, but that has no bearing on this description.)

TCF Actor on the Go (Free, iPhone). Mainly known for commercial submissions, TCF (The Casting Frontier) offers a basic version that lets you receive, confirm, or cancel auditions from your agent or CD. If you're a premium member ($36 or $60/year, depending on the perk), you can also submit yourself to roles posted to the public boards. No charge to change your pictures as often as you like, and a video upload option is coming.

IMDb (Free, iPhone/Android). A must-have to quickly check anyone's film production or TV credits.

Actor Genie ($9.99/iPhone only). For any actor new to L.A., this is very useful, showing what's being cast; information for finding an acting coach or photographer; and a feature I especially like called "Today's Take" offering tidbits of advice from people already successful in the business.

Rehearsal 2 ($19.99, iPhone). I know it's expensive, but it's smartly designed to help you learn your lines; you can even put notes in the margin.

Reality TV Casting ($2.99, iPhone). If your dreams of stardom haven't materialized by the end of your first week in L.A., try this app for a listing of all the nonscripted shows being cast. It may not be why you went to drama school, but many actors have craftily used their reality show stints as a springboard to more distinguished employment. (Note: This is also a Back Stage app.)

Happy Hour (Free, iPhone/Android). If all else fails, you can drown your sorrows with this handy guide to all the food and drink specials going on near you. Skol!

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