Remember this?

Does this bring back memories??

Did you eventually have to install a “separate line” for this new-fangled internet thing?

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Simple English Wikipedia

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 8.28.57 AMWe are all familiar with the on-line reader-written Wikipedia. Although over the years it has been often criticized for errors, it has been gaining respect for being a surprisingly reliable source of information. While not accepted as a source for scholarly work, it is often an excellent place for the average information-seeker to learn quickly about the life of a bumblebee, the work of an 18th century author or an explanation of scientific phenomena. I turn to it myself quite often. Sometimes I learn ‘enough’ to satisfy my question, and other times I use it as a bouncing off point to research further.

Recently I learned about another Wikipedia.

It’s called Simple English Wikipedia, and it is designed for use by people whose first language is not English.

It is not a dumbed-down version. Rather it is written with basic English and shorter sentences.

From the cover page of their website: “We use Simple English words and grammar here. The Simple English Wikipedia is for everyone! That includes children and adults who are learning English. There are 101,790 articles on the Simple English Wikipedia.”

Simple English Wikipedia. What a great idea!

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Multi-tasking: Use your iPad as a Cutting Board (not really!)

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I’m not really suggesting you use your iPad to cut slabs of cheese. :shock:

This cutting board is designed to look like an iPad … and I’m sure it attracts quite a bit of attention when set out with cheese at a party.

You can get one of your own for $29.95, but you’ll have to wait in line. According to the website, they are all sold out at the present time.

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Easter Eggs on Your Computer, iPad and iPhone

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 7.48.59 AMIt is Easter weekend, and the perfect time to send YOU on an Easter Egg hunt.

An “Easter Egg” is a hidden joke or message that a computer programmer has embedded in their work. The very first Easter Egg was hidden in an Atari Game, Adventure, back in 1979. The programmer had secretly stashed his name and it was up to the players to find it.

And these days those Easter Eggs are not just hidden in games, they exist in all kinds of programs. Even those YOU use every day.

So let’s look at two popular Easter Eggs that are ‘hidden’ in Google.

Try this:

Bring up the Google search engine page on your computer or iPhone.

Type in the query: zerg rush

Tap your search button and sit back.

Yikes! I won’t say here what happens … it’s up to you to try it. It won’t hurt anything. It is just a silly Easter Egg reference to a fondly remembered video game for all those wacky programmer folks at Google.

Here is another:

Go to the Google Screen on your iPhone.

Query the word: tilt

When your search results for ’tilt’ show up, they should be ……. tilted. :)

Enjoy your Easter Eggs!

Freecycle “Changing the World One Gift at a Time”

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If you are not familiar with Freecycle, I am excited to be the one to let you in on this fabulous group.

It is a worldwide network with over 9 million members, where people give away stuff and also get stuff … all in their own neighborhood!

It costs nothing to participate, and the rewards are great.

Their mission statement sums it up, well:
“Our mission is to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.”

Simply, this is how it works:

First, you join your local Freecycle group. (links will follow)

(After joining, I suggest you follow the threads for a few days to get a feel for the activity in the group.)

Then …. jump in! Let the group know if you have something to give away, and members will contact you if they would like to ‘receive’ your item. OR If you see something that you would like, just contact that member and let them know that you would like to have it. It’s people just shifting around their stuff. Genius in its simplicity.

I have participated in Freecycle for years. I have given away lamps, a ping pong table, outdoor furniture and more. Things that I no longer needed, but were gladly received by others. I’ve been on the receiving end a few times, as well, and the experience has been delightful. Everyone wins!

Learn more about Freecycle at

Find a group in your area and make others happy as you simplify your life and whittle down your ‘stuff’ :)

New iPad Stand Leaves Me Speechless

I came across this the other day, and, well, I just don’t know what to say.

Beyond “really?” and “e-wwwwwww“, I’ve got nothing.

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This is no joke. You can buy yours here.

Tech Trivia: The Start of Netflix

photo credit: dolphinsdock via photopin cc

photo credit: dolphinsdock via photopin cc

Inspiration can come from anywhere, from an ordinary moment or a seemingly insignificant event..

Reed Hastings, the founder of Netflix, got his inspiration back in 1997.

The idea for a mail order business popped into his head when he got slapped with a late fee of about $40 for an overdue VHS copy of Apollo 13.

Great Deals on iTunes Gift Cards this Week

If you have an iPhone, or an iPad, or any other subset of Apple Products, then you are no stranger to the iTunes Store. It is the place to go for all your apps, for music, for podcasts, for movies and other programing. (Books, too, but as a Kindle aficionado I tend to forget that. :) )

This time of year, stores often bundle the iTunes cards in a way to give you great deals.

If you stay alert, you can grab some free iTunes money. Really truly free.

If you are planning to give any iTunes cards as gifts this holiday season, these deals will help your $ go a bit further.

So far, I have learned of these three, all good for Thursday (limited hours) and Friday: (but I’m sure there will be others)

Toys R Us:

If you buy a $50 iTunes gift card from Toys R Us, you get an EXTRA $15 card for free.


The $60 pack of iTunes gift cards will be offered at Target for $50. That’s $10 free.

Best Buy

The $100 iTunes card will be offered for $80.


Finally, I believe that Walmart will be selling their $100 gift card for $80. $20 free.

Percentage wise, the best deal is at ToysRUs.

With these kind of deals, you can “gift” yourself with the freebie as you buy a card for someone on your Holiday list. :)

********* Thanks to Peace With My Life who tells us that Bed, Bath and Beyond will be offering $25 worth of iTunes for $20. Another goodie!! Thank you!

Cheeky Siri

I am American, but I watch a lot of British television.

Sometimes British words are just better … more descriptive … than those we “American-English” speakers have available.

And so was the case yesterday afternoon.

Siri and I are just getting acquainted. I’ve updated my iPad to iOS6, and she was included. I spent the afternoon with her the other day and she gladly told me the weather, updated some sports scores, suggested a few restaurants and let me know how many days there were until Christmas.

So I thought we had a pretty good start with our relationship.

Until this exchange:

I set my iPad on a stand on the kitchen counter. I was planning on calling out the names of some songs for her to play on the iPad while I did my chores.

But first, polite as I am, I said “Good Morning, Siri!”

(ok, I’ll digress, here. I do admit it is a whole other story we could do about actually talking to (greeting) your Apple device. Yes, I do realize I could have skipped the “good morning” part. :) But we’ll let it go for now.)

So back to the kitchen:

Me: “Good Morning, Siri.”

Siri: (in her Siri voice): “Hello. (pause) And by the way, it is 12:06

WHOA! She was letting ME know (in her Siri voice) that 12:06 is technically no longer ‘morning’!


That’s the only word for it.

Cheeky Siri


google “funny siri” for other insights into her “personality” :)

Here is a link to get you started:


Even quicker … google “funny siri” in GOOGLE IMAGES

Free, Really Free: Classic Audio Books, Professionally Read

photo credit: Wikipedia

Last week, Amazon held their press conference, announcing their new Kindles and also a new feature called “Whispersync Voice.”

Let’s first back up a little bit and talk about “Whispersync” in general. This is an incredible, awesome feature of Kindle-reading. I have a Kindle, an iPad and an iPhone, and I read on all three (using the free Kindle app on the Apple devices).

With Whispersync, I can pick up any device and continue reading my book from where ever I left off on any other device. I fall asleep with my Kindle, yet when I am sitting in the doctor’s office the next afternoon, I can open the Kindle app on my iPhone, and I will be in the exact spot of the book that I left off last night. I can bring my iPad to my exercise bike, and if I open the Kindle app, I will be in the spot where I left off at the Doctor’s office in the afternoon. And when I return to bed in the evening, my Kindle will be ready for reading at the place I left off on the iPad. I have come to rely on this feature, and I’d truly miss it if I didn’t have it now.

Whispersync Voice takes syncing to a whole new level. This adds speech to the equation.

Amazon has started to “package” books so that you can buy the Kindle version with a reduced-price audio book (the audio book would cost a great deal more if bought separately).

(*Please note that this is different from the “Text to Speech” function that Kindles have enjoyed since the beginning. (I won’t digress here, but I think many people will be disappointed if Text to Speech is phased out.) With WhisperSync Voice, you are hearing professionally made audio books, not a robot text reader.*)

With Whispersync Voice, you can read your book at home, then get in your car and continue listening to the book from exactly the same spot where you left off. A cool idea, (although it might get a little costly.)

In my family, we might use this a bit differently, since I am a reader, and my husband is a listener. This could work out really well for us, not as a syncing thing, but as an opportunity to get a reduced price audio book of a book that I’ve read and I think he would really like. We’ll see….

And so ……. Let’s get to the FREE part:

Because Amazon wants people to try this new feature, they have taken 22 Classic Books and made the book and the audiobook version BOTH free:

That’s a WOW!

Here is the list:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Tom Sawyer’s Comrade by Mark Twain

Dracula by Bram Stoker

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

White Fang by Jack London

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel DeFoe

Awesome list, right?

In order to do this, you must have a Kindle or Kindle App and the Audible App on your iPhone. (There is a version for Android users as well).

Click here to go to the list of FREE Amazon Books and Matching Audiobooks.

Scroll through, and find the book of your choice.

I chose A Tale of Two Cities and clicked on that title from the list. It brought me to this screen:

Notice that the Kindle price is $0 (that’s ZERO dollars). Just “purchase” it as you would any Kindle book.

A box will pop up and you will see this:

Since I have already downloaded and registered with the Audible App, I just breeze through these clicks… I’ll paste each screen, here:

Notice all those zeros? :)

That’s all there is (almost). You will have to download the book to your phone via the Audible App. Just go to the “My Library” section of the app, and you will see your audio book listed in the “not downloaded” section. Just touch it to download it into your phone. That’s it. You can now listen on your device, and it will sync with the book as you read it. I have tried it, and wow .. it works just great.

Audible is an Amazon company, and therefore the two play very well together. I am particularly delighted to see that in the “Manage my Kindle” section on Amazon, your Audio books are included there, as well, to be managed similarly.

And so, to summarize:

Go to the list of free books.

“Buy” a free book.

“Buy” a free audio version of the book.

Download the audio version to your device through the Audible App.

All done! Time to enjoy!

You can learn more about Whispersync voice here


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