Learn a Language with Duolingo. FREE and FANTASTIC

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 8.50.01 AMI so admire those who can speak more than one language.

I can’t, and it’s something that I thoroughly regret.

If you are interested in learning a language …… or brushing up on your skills with a language you dabbled in while in school ….. stop reading my blog right now, and download Duolingo!

You can learn Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, and English.

It is FREE. No ads. And NO in-app purchases. Choose a language and GO. They give you lessons in little doses. I’ve been working through some lessons and yes, indeed, I am picking up bits and pieces. What an awesome little app!

If you have some background in a language, you can take a “placement” test. I did. But… as you can see, I didn’t do well.

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So I started at the best place to start. The beginning. And I am enjoying every bite-sized lesson.

Duolingo, for your iPhone or iPad, is FREE in the iTunes store.

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Weekend Distraction: Google Maps Trivia

First of all….. I’d like to apologize (in advance) for this week’s Weekend Distraction. It’s so much fun, that you may find yourself returning to it a little too often.

Just saying’ :)

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 8.29.18 AM The folks at Google have recently released this delightful time-eater-upper. Google Maps Trivia.

And you don’t have to go and get it from the app store. You already have it (if you have Google Maps).

(Even if you don’t have a smart phone, or an iPad, you can also play this on your computer. I’ll provide that link at the end of this post.)

It’s called Google Maps Trivia. Simple and appealing. Google will give you a random clue, and your job is to drop a pin on the correct location.

You start with 1000 miles. Miles are subtracted for any distance “off” the correct mark. When you run out of miles, you’re done. You can choose categories if you would like, or let Google throw them at you randomly.

To find this gem on your device, just open your Google Maps app.

Click on those three lines up in the upper left hand corner. Now look down the menu on the left side, and select “Google Maps Trivia.”

From Skitch-10

The game begins!

Let them give you questions, or select your own category.

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Answer the question, and drop your pin. If you’re wrong, Google will show you how far off you are, and subtract those miles from your 1000. When you run out of miles, you’re done.

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And when you get your answer RIGHT … Google cheers you on!

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You can also play this game directly on your computer. I actually prefer to use it with a larger screen, and I find that I can be more accurate with my pin drops on my Macbook rather than on the smaller devices.

Follow this link to play Google Maps Trivia on your computer:

Google Maps Trivia

Have fun!

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It’s 7 – 11, and that means it’s Free Slurpee Day! More FREE STUFF, all week, with the App

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Stop in today, Friday, 7/11, between the hours of 11 am to 7 pm at your local, participating 7-Eleven to get a free Slurpee. No coupon necessary. This is the 12th year that the chain has given away Slurpees to celebrate its birthday.

And then …..

If you have the 7-Eleven App, you get more freebees all birthday-week long!

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That’s quite a haul of FREE stuff for a FREE app.

7-Eleven App is FREE in the iTunes store

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Turn on your Lights from anywhere in the World

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This ability to remotely control lights in your home has been around for a while, but it’s been pricey….. until now.

General Electric has recently announced that it will be selling a new line of LED lightbulbs that will work with an app on your smartphone. You will be able, through your phone, to adjust the brightness of these lightbulbs and to turn them on and off from anywhere. Pretty handy for a vacation, or a late night out.

These lightbulbs will sell for $15 (or less!) and will be available at Home Depot sometime this fall.

A hub will be required, and this will cost in the neighborhood of $49, which includes the hub AND two lightbulbs. (Previous set-ups ran closer to $200)

This is a very “busy” area of new technology. Apple is also developing “home kit” and wants to make your house smarter.

I don’t see where all this smart-house stuff is going, but then again, I’ve never been particularly insightful. When my son first showed me how his Commodore 64 could “call” another computer and leave a message on a “bulletin board” (the beginnings of the internet) I remember being less than enthusiastic.

But, gadget lover that I am, I’m liking the idea of this light bulb that I can control from my phone. I’m sure that I’ll be installing a few of these lightbulbs around my house. I don’t know if it will make my house smarter, but I do know it will be fun. :) And of course I’ll share my experiences here.

GE to sell Link LED lightbulbs controlled by Wink iPhone app

GE announces line of “link” Smart LED Lightbulbs starting at $15

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Misbehaving app?

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Sometimes, apps misbehave. They might freeze. Or act wonky. :shock:

If you are finding that an app on your iPhone or iPad isn’t working properly, try this easy fix:

Tap your home button to leave the app.

Double click your home button.

Put your finger on the troublesome app and slide UP. It disappears.

From Skitch-2

Tap the home button again.

Now re-open your app. It should now (hopefully) act properly.

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Do you have Amazon Prime? If so, you also now have FREE music!

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.36.28 AMThis was a surprise! Announced last week, Amazon has added a new perk for Prime members.

If you are a Prime member, you’ll want to download this free app: Amazon Music with Prime Music

And then? Listen to Music, FREE. Lots and lots of music.

With NO ADS.

I enjoy Pandora, and use it quite a bit. However, the ads can be annoying, and to purchase it without ads has gotten rather pricey.

But now … enter Amazon Music.

From their description:

“Your music collection just got a lot bigger. Amazon Music now includes Prime Music. Amazon Prime members can listen to or download over a million songs and hundreds of expert-programmed playlists with Prime Music.”

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As soon as I learned of this new way to listen to Music, I downloaded the app immediately. I’ve been experimenting with it ever since. They have provided a large group of playlists, from “50 Great Epic Classic Rock Songs” to “80′s Dance Floor Fillers” to “Feel Good Country” to “Indie workout” to “Hipster Hits”….. you get the idea. Many, many, MANY prepared playlists for you to enjoy.

If you are a Prime member, just download the app, sign in with your Amazon password, and select “Prime Playlists”. Tap your choice and away you go. Streaming music. Turn up the sound and enjoy. With NO ads.

You can also select “Prime Music” and enjoy tons more. Oodles of music is available for you to download (for free) and then enjoy when you are not in your wireless streaming environment.

I’m still learning my way around this app. Since I’ve used Pandora for so long, there is a bit of a learning curve. (Especially the ‘saving to library’ part)

BUT … “PRIME MUSIC” and “PRIME PLAYLISTS” are clearly marked and easily found. Once you download the app, you can select a playlist and be listening to music within minutes.

I’m delighted with this Pandora alternative and kudos to Amazon for giving this additional perk, FREE, to Prime members.

Amazon Music with Prime Music is available for FREE in the iTunes store for your iPhone and iPad.

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Weekend Distraction: 7 Sevens for your iPhone and iPad

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 7.20.32 AMYou’re Welcome!!! (Yes, it’s THAT good!)

I enjoy gentle games. Just at the distraction level. Something I can do without giving it my entire focus.

I am delighted to have found 7 Sevens.

This is one of those games that you can do while you are waiting in a doctor’s office, or you can do while you are sitting in front of the TV. In other words, it doesn’t need ALL of your attention. Just a bit. As far as I’m concerned …. just the perfect amount.

It’s easy to learn, and as you play, you will discover that there is a bit of strategy involved. You’ll get better as you play.

7 Sevens opens with a grid that is 7 squares wide and 7 squares tall.

Dropping from the top will be numbers, from 1 to 7. And an occasional gray, solid square.

Your job is to decide the column where you want the square to drop. If two 2′s touch, they disappear. Or three 3′s, or four 4′s, and so on. Your goal is to group those numbers so that they disappear, freeing up room on the board.

On the screenshot of my game, below, you can see that I must have recently cleared a group of 6′s because there are none on the board. I’m about to drop a new 6, so I have to decide where I want it to go. I will probably NOT put it in that empty column, because I want to leave that alone to add 4′s.

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The gray squares get in the way. You won’t want to see those. But happily, when a group of numbers disappears, any adjacent gray squares will disappear, also.

Your goal is to try to keep the board as clear as possible so that you can continue on. As you move up in levels, a random few numbers (and gray squares) will drop, messing up your perfectly planned strategy. Argh! The challenge is to work around those new obstacles.

There are a few bells and whistles (modes, etc), but the basic game is a pick-up-and-play.

7 Sevens is 99¢ in the iTunes store and is designed for both your iPhone and iPad

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World Cup Soccer, brought to you by Google

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 6.54.48 PM World Cup 2014 runs from June 12 to July 13 in Brazil…

…and Google has geared up to keep us informed of all World Cup action.

No matter what your device, just use Google and type in “world cup” or “world cup usa” (or whatever your team of choice) and you will see the latest team lineup, live scores and other information.

Tap to switch to specific teams, players, etc.

Learn more about all you can do, here.

You can also visit Brazil’s 12 stadiums with Google’s street view:

Brazil’s World Cup Stadiums

Or visit Brazil’s painted streets:

Brazil’s Painted Streets

There is an official World Cup app for your iPhone and iPad, free in the iTunes store, but it really looks as though Google has it all covered, with no app to clutter your screen, and giving you access through any of your devices. :)

Play ball!
(I know, I know, you say “play ball!” to start a baseball game. I just don’t know what the equivalent “start chant” is for soccer aka football…. :shock: Is there one?)

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How to Delete an App from your iPad or iPhone: (part of the) Very Beginner Series

* Occasional posts will contain how-tos and/or hints for VERY new users of iPads, iPhones or Kindles. All new users welcome! Non-tech speak, not terribly detailed, just basic device-enhancing goodness. All part of this Very Beginner Series.

Please share with any beginners (Mom? Dad? Grandma?) in your life.*

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 8.11.07 AMI received a message from a reader today asking how to delete an app. I can’t believe that I neglected to include such a basic “how to” on this blog! Let me correct that, right now. :)

Any new iPhone/iPad user will soon find themselves loaded with apps. While some of those apps will be useful, you will probably find that others are not-so-good and you would like to get them OFF of your device. It’s very easy to do.

How to delete an app from your iPhone or iPad:

Hold your finger on the app that you want to remove from your device.

It will start to wiggle, and you will see an “x” in the corner of the icon.

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Tap on the “x” and you will be given a message that asks if you are sure that you want to delete this app.

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Once you tap “delete”, the app disappears. Poof!

FYI … it’s not gone forever. You bought it. You own it. If you ever want it back, just return to the iTunes store and download it again. Apple will remember that you already bought it, so you will download it without charge.

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How to Enjoy a Slideshow on your iPad: (part of the) Very Beginner Series

Over the last several years, “throwback Thursday” has become quite popular.

Although it is really supposed to be about nostalgia (like old photos), I thought I’d stretch the point, and occasionally post an old (but updated!) “how to” on Thursdays, for the benefit of the many new-device-users who have joined our blog.

* Occasional posts will contain how-tos and/or hints for VERY new users of iPads, iPhones or Kindles. All new users welcome! Non-tech speak, not terribly detailed, just basic device-enhancing goodness. All part of this Very Beginner Series.

Please share with any beginners (Mom? Dad? Grandma?) in your life.*

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 8.54.04 AMRemember the digital picture frames that were so popular several years ago? If you have an iPad, you may choose to leave that digital frame in the drawer because your iPad is an awesome picture frame. Better, probably, than the dedicated version you have (had) and a LOT more fun.

When you first take your iPad out of the box, one of the Apps you will see on the home screen is called Photos and it shows on your screen as a daisy with colorful petals. We are going to make our slideshow with this native App (although there are lots of others available in the App Store).

Once you have about a dozen photos on your iPad, you are ready to enjoy the show. We will get it started, and look at several options along the way.

Touch the photos app to open it. Now tap any photo, from any collection. (Once you understand how to make a slideshow, you can group your photos accordingly.)

Look down at the bottom left of the screen. You’ll see a box with an arrow pointing up. This is your “action” box.

Tap on this action box, and you’ll be presented with several choices of “actions.” One of these choices will be: Slideshow.

From Skitch

Select “slideshow” and you will get a new menu with several choices.

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Touch “transitions” and you will get several options: dissolve, cube, ripple, wipe across, wipe down and origami. Choose any one of these for now, you can come back and change it later.

Your next option is “Play Music”. Slide this to “on”. When you touch “music” you will be presented with all the music that you have on your iPad. Select something that you would like to listen to while you watch your pictures.

Once you have made these choices, touch “Start Slideshow” and sit back to enjoy the show. At any point if you want to stop it, just tap the screen.

But you’re not done yet! There are a few other tweaks that you can do. Open Settings > Photos. Notice there are several setting choices for your slideshow. You can change the number of seconds that each slide stays on the screen, choose to repeat photographs, and opt to have the photos shuffled as they are viewed.

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