Maps Are Changing on Our Devices: Google Earth 3D is a Start

Basically I am not fond of change, which is really contradictory for me considering technology is all about change. This is my one haven where I love all the new everything. New apps, new gestures, new abilities, all tech-fun goodness.

But I worry about the Maps. I love maps. I think that Google street view is just about the most wonderous thing I’ve ever seen. You can explore places you’ll never see physically, or preview the neighborhood of a hotel you plan to use in the city you are going to visit.

I wrote a post about accessing Google’s Street View on your iPhone and iPad right here.

But now it appears that Maps will be changing. When Apple launches its new operating system this fall, Google will no longer be providing the maps for our devices. Apple will be supplying their own maps and they will include 3D flyovers in this iOS6 release.

Not to be scooped, Google has jumped in with its own 3D maps in their latest update for Google Earth.

Several cities are now viewable (flyable) in 3D in Google Earth: Los Angeles, Boston, Geneva, Rome, and San Francisco, with the announcement that more “are coming” in the next few weeks.

I updated my Google Earth app so I could check this out. It’s ok, but bluntly…. not great.

I did quite a bit of flying-around in these 3D cities, and I’m totally underwhelmed.

Buildings and roads look distorted, and I had to pause often and wait for my iPad to catch up and bring everything into focus.

Here is a 3D view of Boston, another of Rome, and one of San Francisco. You can see the streets are a tad wiggly, but overall these stills don’t look bad. It’s moving about that makes things slow and jumpy.

But I have hope! All things get improved. Just remember those little pixelated characters on early Atari games and compare those to the gorgeous graphics of today’s creations.

So, when you update your Google Earth, go ahead and do a flyover of Rome, or San Francisco, or Los Angeles, or Boston or Geneva.

And then ….. imagine how great this technology is GOING to be.

Google Earth is free in the iTunes store.

Sharing Awards and Building Connections: A Brief Digression from Tech-Goodness

To my surprise, two award nominations recently came my way. Awards are a lovely recognition, but to me the most important aspect of Awards is the nudge that they provide to build connections, to reach out and visit other blogs, to form new bonds with other bloggers, to expand interests and to share in new adventures.

I am grateful to my blogging friend, Daniela at Lantern Post, for this first award nomination. Stop by for a visit to her blog. You’ll not only find a great blog, but also someone to admire. For starters… she blogs in English, even though English is not her native language. Wow, huh? :)

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This second award was graciously given by Francine in Retirement. Francine blogs beautiful photos, most recently of her adventures in Amish Country. She posts her photos with messages of gratitude and encouragement. Francine is a delight, and you can visit her, here.

I understand that the rules of both of these awards are the same, so I will be combining them. The rules are:

Post seven interesting things about yourself.

Nominate 15 other bloggers who you feel deserve the award.

Let them know about nomination.

So here are my seven (not so) interesting things: :)

1. My 11 year old dog weighs only 3 pounds.
2. I love Washington State Cherries.
3. I’ll drive over an hour to get to a Trader Joe’s.
4. I once rode in a blimp.
5. I collect old photographs.
6. I love to hang out laundry on the clothesline.
7. My favorite books are long long really-long historical novels.

Here are my nominations. Please pay them a visit!

A Taste of Morning

Grandmother Musings

NMNPHX

Pseu’s Blog

Parashar’s Tales

Mirth and Motivation

Just English

Passionate About Pets

Positively Engaged in Life

Gin & Lemonade with a Twist

The Power of Positive Thoughts

On the Homefront

Meanwhile, Melody Muses

Renee’s Revelings

The Bonny Blog

How to Make Your Own Shortcut on Your iPhone or iPad

When you send text messages, there are probably a few phrases that you use a lot. By making your own shortcut, you can tap only a few keys and your phrase will appear in its entirety.

Instead of typing “meet you in 10 mins”, you could shorten it to “my” or “mt10″.

Instead of typing “love you” you could shorten it to “ly”

Instead of typing your long name, “Reginald Fingersandtoes”, you can just type “rf”.

You get the idea.

This is extremely handy if you use a particular phrase often.

Here is how you make your own shortcuts:

Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

Once you are on the Keyboard screen, slide down to Shortcuts and tap on “Add New Shortcut”

Now you will see a screen where you will have to fill in two spots: Phrase (the phrase that you would like to be typed out) and Shortcut (the few letters that you want to use as a shortcut).

For my example, I want to make a shortcut for “thank you”. (I’m polite, and I use ‘thank you’ a lot :) )

Enter in whatever phrase that you want to shorten and the combination of letters that you want to use as a shortcut. I chose to type “thx” when I want my phone to write “thank you.”

Tap “Save”.

That’s all there is.

Once I have made my shortcut, whenever I type “thx”, the words “thank you” will appear, just like an auto-correction.

When the day comes that you want to delete your shortcut, just swipe the shortcut to the left and a “delete” button will appear. Tap that, and your shortcut will disappear.

iPad Mini: Will It Douse the Kindle Fire?

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photo pin cc

It is looking more and more like the rumors are true. A mini-iPad is on the horizon.

This is still rumor, with no official confirmations from Apple, but sources such as the NYTimes and CNET are now reporting that the iPad mini will be coming as early as September.

How mini is mini? The guesses are that it will have a 7.85 inch screen. The standard, larger iPad of today has a screen of 9.7 inches. It may not sound like a lot, but it will make for a different experience.

This smaller sized iPad is the perfect size for slipping into a woman’s purse or a small bag of any sort. This makes it more portable than the regular iPad. The recent popularity of Google’s Nexus and Amazon’s Kindle Fire shows that people are enjoying the smaller screen …… and of course, the smaller price tag.

The predicted cost of the iPad mini is rumored to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 – $250, with all the capabilities of the larger iPads. A proven sweet spot of pricing, Apple is hoping to draw in people who want an iPad, but are unwilling to pay the high price for the standard sized iPad tablet.

My thoughts on this: I think a smaller, less expensive iPad is a great idea. The portability is a plus and of course the price tag makes it more affordable. Those are two points strongly in it’s favor.

On the down side, the iPad mini will not have as much internal storage as the largest iPads, and, of course, some people will not be interested in the small screen.

Personally, although I am delighted every day with my standard sized iPad, and I love the large screen, I’ll admit that although I take my iPad with me when I travel, for everyday use I usually leave it at home. It is an awkward size to carry around regularly.

As the Christmas gift-giving season approaches, I imagine the iPad mini will do very well.

It might also be chosen as a second iPad for a family who has one already. While a second full-priced iPad would be too expensive to consider, the mini-model would allow the family to add a second device at a much lower price and have a tablet that is easy to take-and-go.

And for those folks who have been considering an iPad, but just couldn’t bring themselves to invest the $, this mini iPad will be the perfect entry device.

I’m glad I don’t have to make the choice. I’d waffle. Portability vs larger screen? Trade off memory for a smaller size? Pros and Cons. Cons and Pros.

But overall I think that CHOICES are always a good thing. The more choices, the better.

(Note to my new-to-iPad and iPhone readers: If you have an iPhone, and get an iPad (or vice versa), the APPS that you have already purchased will be usable on the other device as well. You do not have to re-purchase them. There are a few apps that are an exception to this rule, but MOST apps are yours across ALL your Apple devices. I will dedicate a post to this, shortly.)

Play Golf for Free This Weekend with Super Stickman Golf for iPhone and iPad

I don’t play golf, except for the mini-kind. And since I don’t play golf, those popular golf games (like Tiger Woods) have too many bells and whistles for me to enjoy. I don’t understand clubs and wedges and slices and draws and fades, so all the extra detail that is craved by some… well, it puts me off.

But I DO like physics-puzzler games. Super Stickman Golf is advertised as a super combination of golf + puzzler.

And … it is FREE for a limited time, so with nothing to lose, I downloaded it yesterday.

So far I like it a lot. I don’t have a long attention span for games. I like ones that I can pick up, play just a bit, and set aside. I also don’t enjoy a long learning curve. I want to play and I want to play, now. I don’t want to have to suffer through long directions.

Super Stickman is quick to learn and I was swinging my way through the first course in no time at all. It takes just a few taps to adjust the swing and a double tap to choose power and hit the ball.

I played the first course twice, and this unlocked the second course.

Quick, satisfying play.

There are special balls that will be unlocked as you slug your way through a large number of courses.

I don’t expect to be disappointed, because the reviews for this game are extraordinarily positive.

Super Stickman Golf is FREE for a limited time in the iTunes Store. If you miss the free offer, it is usually 99¢.

My Blog Experience: I Never Expected This

photo credit: nunorodrigues.net via photo pin cc

I think technology is fun. Obviously. That’s why I write this blog.

But this blogging experience has morphed into something else, for me. It’s a connection.

Let me back up a bit. We are all aware that the internet has made the world such a smaller place. But I lived most of my life without the internet. (I know, I’m old :). )

photo credit: ~Brenda-Starr~ via photo pin cc

I remember clearly the days that “Europe” was a strange and distant land. My grandparents had emigrated to the US from a small village in the Black Forest. As a child, to me the Black Forest was the place of Hansel and Gretel, wicked witches, and deep dark dangerous forests. Any relatives who lived there were too far away to “know”. Phone communication was prohibitively expensive. Letters were written on paper-thin blue tissue paper and sent off with very little information shared in the tiny space allowed. You couldn’t even include a photograph in those thin little blue envelopes.

But today we can communicate instantly with everyone around the world. My daughters-in-law both have family in distant countries, and they have a completely different experience than I did. They can communicate as easily as if they lived in the same neighborhood, sharing stories, photographs, videos and live chats. When translation is needed, that’s available, too. It’s all just plain wonderful.

photo credit: rogiro via photo pin cc

I love to travel. I have been fortunate to visit a fair number of countries (with a few more on the agenda for next year! yay!) but to me it’s never enough. If money was no object, I’d be everywhere. Because that is where I want to be. To see the old castles, historic places, to experience new foods and flavors, to witness life go on in the human way …the same, yet different.

To my complete surprise and delight, in its own way, blogging “takes me there.” It has morphed into an international experience.

When I started this blog, I hoped some people would read it. But I never gave a thought to who these people would be. I am stunned at the international-ness of the blogging community. The stats show us the visits by country, astounding enough, but it’s the interactions that are special.

I am so honored to be following and be followed by bloggers not only throughout the US, but also in Australia, New Zealand, India, Russia, England, Pakistan, Canada and South Africa.

I am grateful (every day) to be touched by these stranger-friends from around the world, and I will never take this for granted.

Am I the only one blown away by this miraculous connection to everywhere?

BTW … Hansel and Gretel could have used a smart phone :) .

How to Delete a Text Message from Your iPhone

One of the most frequent uses of all smartphones is text messaging. The conversations remain on your phone for a very long time.

This can be quite convenient. I’ve looked back through conversations more than once to retrieve all sorts of things.

Of course, there are also situations where it is NOT convenient to have an old conversation living on your phone. Yikes. I’ll let you imagine the scenerios.

You can delete these, and it’s simple and quick.

Here is how you delete text messages:

Bring up the conversation on your iPhone.

Tap “edit” in the upper right corner.

You will see pale circles appear to the left of the texts.

Touch the one(s) that you want to send into oblivion.

A red check mark will appear.

Now touch “delete” (down at the bottom of the page)

Poof! All gone. (Whew!)

Solar: A Stunning New Weather App for Your iPhone and iPad

I have quite a few weather apps, and I really thought I was “done” ….. until I saw this one. Solar was just released this week, and it is very different and very beautiful.

I love simple utility apps, and Solar fits this perfectly. It won’t give you lots of details, but it gives you the current weather, temperature, and the forecast for the hours and days ahead. All the stuff you really need.

And the screens are presented with beautiful colors. Subtle, changing colors. Hot temperatures will present with reds and oranges, cooler temperatures display with soft blues. Gorgeous.

You can add cities and swipe from screen to screen to see them quickly. A double tap will put four on the screen at once.

Slide your finger up, and you can watch the clock move and the temperature displayed for the hours ahead.

Slide your finger down, and the next three days of temps and weather are on the screen.

Lovely to look at. A delight to use.

Solar is 99¢ in the iTunes store.

How to Add a Photo to Your Contacts on Your iPhone: (part of the) Very Beginner Series

photo credit: Wikipedia

If you’ve just gotten an iPhone, you probably would like to set it up so that photos of your callers appear on your screen when they are calling you. This is very easy to do.

The first step is to have a photo of your contact on your phone in your camera roll. You might already have a picture there, or you may need to take one.

We took this picture of our friend Homer (not really) and we want to add his photo to our contact page for him.

Here is how to add a picture:

Go to Contacts and tap on your contact’s name. You will see a square with a silhouette. That is where the picture will go.

Look at the upper right corner. Tap on “edit”, and the silhouette will disappear, replaced with a little box that says “add photo”.

Tap on the box that says “add photo”, and two choices will pop up from the bottom. You can “take photo” or “choose photo”. If you tap on “take photo”, the camera will open. We already have Homer’s picture in our camera roll, so we are going to select “choose photo”.

Once you have selected your photo, you will be offered the opportunity to move or change the size of the picture for the purpose of making it a close-up, just as you would like it.

When you are happy with the photo, just tap “choose”.

That’s it. You’re done.

Your edited photo now appears next to the person’s name on the Contact Page.

And this means, when your contacts call you, their photos will appear next to their name on your screen.

(This is also the way to add photos to contacts on your iPad. Contact > Edit > Add Photo)

Sharing a Kindle Account: How to Make a Group

If you enjoy reading on your Kindle (or through your Kindle app) you probably have a growing library. And you’re also probably frustrated in your desire to share these books.

You can make a Kindle group and share your library with friends and family. By doing this, as your members buy different books, your library grows and grows, and soon you need only to look to your own library to select a book to read. Of course, it is helpful if you form this group among people who generally have the same taste in books. (duh)

It’s not hard to form a group, but there are some details that need to be thought through, and some issues of trust to be considered.

Let’s use Paul, Ringo, John and George as our example group. John and George are brothers, Paul is their cousin, and Ringo is a good friend.

John has a Kindle and an account in his name. John’s credit card is linked to this account, and he one-clicks the books that he buys and they get delivered directly to his Kindle (or Kindle app).

Now, George wants to connect to John’s library, so he registers his Kindle (or Kindle app) to John’s account. This gives George access to John’s entire cloud of books, and he can download whatever is in that cloud to read on his device.

Paul would also like to read what John is reading, and John gives him the information (password, etc) to register his device to John’s account. Ringo, as well, gets all the information to register.

Now we have four people registered to one account. They all access ONE cloud of books. You can add more than four people. Actually, I don’t believe there is a limit on how many people you can add. The only limitation is that only 5 or 6 devices are allowed to carry one book at the same time. In a larger group, this won’t be a problem as long as people are reading different books.

There is no US geographic limitation, so your Aunt Mabel in Milwaukee and your old friend Ralph in San Francisco can both be on your account in Philadelphia.

The biggest consideration is the management of the group. Remember….. it is all one account, and so there is only ONE credit card being charged. It’s the owner of the card who needs to think this through carefully and should decide how best to administer this group.

In the loosest scenario, all your group members would have your password so that they can browse and buy. When they buy something, they would have to get the appropriate $ to you. This involves a fair large amount of trust.

Another way to manage is to simply have your group members tell you what they want to buy, you buy it and send it to their Kindle or Kindle app (through Manage My Kindle). In this scenerio, the members do not have the ability to buy on your dime without your involvement, and you are aware right up front what they owe you. However, this requires some administration on the part of the card holder, and the group members lose the ability to have instant access to the book they buy. But for the group members, it is a small trade off (instant access vs access to the growing shared group library).

If you are considering a group I recommend that you read this blog post about Kindle group sharing and this discussion thread about Kindle users and their groups. A well-developed group can be a wonderful thing, but a poor one could be a nightmare.

One other point. If two people are reading the same book, you’ll have to remember to turn off synchronization. I truly love the synchronization feature, and it is not something I am willing to give up. So, in my group, we agreed to solve this problem by not reading the same books at the same time.

The Kindle App is free in the iTunes store.

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