Thanksgiving = Blogging Break

As Thanksgiving approaches, we often reflect on the many things for which we are thankful. I am so very grateful for every individual in this blogging community. I appreciate each and every reader, and I want you to know that. :)

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate the day and a Happy Last-Week-in-November for everyone else.

I leave you this week with these directions for cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey.

( I dedicate this to a certain group of friends….. you know who you are :) )

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Weekend Distraction: How Smart is your Smartphone?

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Thank you to the Laughing Housewife for sending this to me. Linda is my humor “muse”. She shares laughter on her blog, and I’m so glad that she also shares it directly with me (to share with you). :)

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Saving Favorites in Safari with iOS 8

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 7.07.56 PM Safari changed a bit in iOS7 and a bit more in iOS8. Not a lot, but enough to mention, here.

When you bring up a web page on Safari, and you would like to save it as a favorite, there is a really easy (visual) way to do this…… but it’s kind of hidden.

So let’s go and find it. :)

Let’s start by using Safari to bring up a website that you would like to save.

Here I have summoned the website for one of my favorite podcasts, A Way with Words.

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To save it as a favorite, just touch the search bar, again. Suddenly, you will see several “squares” representing the websites that your iPhone thought you might like favorited, like Disney and ESPN.

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Now, pull DOWN on the page. Two hidden buttons appear, “Add to Favorites” and “Request Desktop Site.”

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Tap on “Add to Favorites” and your website will be saved with its own little square icon, as you can see, here.

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(The other option allows you to view the regular desktop site instead of the abbreviated mobile one.)

If you need to delete a “Favorite” in the future (or delete the “favorites” that Apple chose for you), just tap and hold a square. “Delete” will appear above the square as an action-option. Now touch “delete” and the square-favorite vanishes. Poof! Gone!

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Looking for Thanksgiving Recipes? Try this!

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 7.33.13 PMI was in the grocery store today, and even though Thanksgiving is over a week away, the food-frenzy shopping has clearly officially begun.

I had planned to do a post about recipe apps. There are many. Many.

But I think there is a better way to search out tasty goodness: Pinterest

I think that most people are familiar with Pinterest, but if you are not, it is basically a bulletin board where you can “pin” all your favorite things from around the internet. These pins are linked to their original content, so that you or a viewer-of-your-page can easily visit the original if they are so inclined.

You can also search Pinterest by subject. So if you wanted to look at lamps, just type “lamps” into the search box at the top of any Pinterest page. You will now be treated to a huge variety of lamps and you can follow the links back to their source.

Now…. Back to Thanksgiving Recipes….

Look for anything. It’s a big world. Whatever it is, I’m sure people have pinned it. I searched for “sweet potatoes” (a Thanksgiving staple). Here is a piece of the Pinterest page that appeared. It scrolled on and on with all kinds of recipe ideas from oodles of sources.

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And so, if you need inspiration, give Pinterest a try. Scroll through the pictures that appear after your search, and investigate deeper the ones that look extra tasty to you.

Appetizers? Desserts? Place settings? Centerpieces? You’ll find ideas for anything you need.

(you might have to ‘enroll’ in Pinterest. But it is free, and a lot of fun … so jump in!!)

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App Bundles Save $$$

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With iOS8, you can now download a bundle of apps from the same developer at a bargain price.

They have apps bundles, games bundles and kids bundles. Simply put, a group of cookbooks is cheaper than buying them each separately.

Here is a screen shot of the “Where’s My Puzzle Pack” bundle.

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To take a look at all the bundles that are available, just head over to the app store, where you will find “Bundles” featured on their front page.

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Where Can I Find (*insert tv show/movie here*) ? Try WhereToWatch

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 6.37.37 AM After all the chatter of the last post, as we looked at tv-watching options, I learned of a new website to help bring order to the chaos that is now the world of streaming.

Whether you are looking for something old, or new, you can search for it with this tool.

As more and more options are available, it is possible that the program you enjoy but missed last week is out there …. somewhere ….. to see.

This is so simple. And SO GREAT.

This new search tool was created by the Motion Picture Association of America. Just type in a program or movie that you would like to see. The search engine will tell you WHERE you can find it. On Netflix? Amazon? Free or $$? Hulu? HBO to go? It currently searches about 27 sources.

Here is an example.

I searched for an OLD show, the Vicar of Dibley.

It shows you where you can find this show for every season (or can’t find it, if it is not available) .

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Here is an example of a search for a CURRENT show, Scandal.

I selected THIS season, and …. look at all the options.

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It’s a great tool to find what you’re looking for. I’ve favorited the link, and although I don’t expect to use it often, it’s wonderful to know it’s available when I need it.

Give it a try! (only available at this time in the US)

Where to Watch

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Cable or no? What do you do?

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 6.36.13 AMThere are now so very many sources of video entertainment that the options are many.

Netflix, Hulu plus, HBO to go, Amazon prime and others all offer the opportunity to stream your programming rather than connect to cable the (now) old-fashioned way.

( gasp!! Am I really calling cable “old fashioned”? I remember when it was the exciting new alternative to the antennae!!!)

In my house, we are still connected to cable and pay a monthly fee for the privilege. We “bundle.” Cable, internet and a land line phone. The phone, (a now nearly-useless relic) is basically free in the bundle, so we keep that. But if we cut the cable cord, the phone would go, too, and we would only pay for the internet….

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 6.49.49 AMHowever, my husband is a sports fan, and loves to spend his weekends channel-flipping through the football games. This ability is not available through streaming, so we will keep cable until the sports options increase.

We also have a DVR, so we capture programming from all hours, and watch on our own schedule. However, most of the programing we “catch” is also available through apps or streaming.

We do subscribe to Netflix, and stream some of their programs with regularity, and we also have Amazon Prime with more streaming options.

Our television watching habits have changed in that we rarely watch programs as they are broadcast. We never watch “live.” Except for those sports events, we choose our entertainment from the DVR or streaming options.

Now I’m looking at Hulu Plus. They have programming that I know we would enjoy and that is unavailable on the other services. ( UK readers: Hulu Plus has Miranda :) )

But $$ add up. We pay for Netflix, now. I don’t really want to add another $$ without decreasing something else. (and …I must have my Amazon Prime, so that’s not an option to lose :) ).

If it weren’t for the sports, I’d cut the cord. But for now we stay connected.

Hulu Plus is beckoning me, though. Anyone have experience with that service?

and…

What do you do? I’m guessing that older people are hanging on to their cable out of habit and younger folks are cutting the cord.

Care to share?

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My Impressions After One Full Month with my iPhone 6 PLUS

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It’s big. (I think I may have mentioned that before :) )

and …

it’s big.

I will admit, when I first got it, I felt a little “off” with it. The phone is so much larger than my last one, that I questioned its portability. I am a person who keeps my phone with me at all times, and this was a legitimate concern.

But after a month of full-time use, I’m happy to report that it fits in all of my regular pockets. My sweatpants, my mom jeans, my jackets and assorted other pocketed clothing all include pockets that are able to easily accommodate this super-sized phone. (so sorry to use the word “pockets” so much. I racked my brain, but could not find a suitable synonym. Pockets pockets pockets.)

In the beginning, as I said, it felt a bit odd. One month later…… not at all. I absolutely love it.

The screen is stunningly beautiful. Everything is clear and sharp and easy to see. Following my blue dot on a map is so much easier, obviously, with a bigger screen.

I have found myself using the phone more often for googling and other internet searching. In the past, I would turn to the internet only if I “had” to when I was out and about. But with this phone, I find myself doing it more, and sometimes even searching on the phone from home, just because it’s so handy, even though I could go to a real screen on my notebook computer. The bigger phone makes it that much easier to see and search.

And READ. You can read on this phone. It is just big enough to make reading comfortable on the device. I’m not just talking about books… but websites as well. I NEVER looked at websites on my smaller phones. But on the iPhone Plus, website-browsing is possible.

And this was a surprise: easy link-touching. On the smaller phone, I would always have to zoom and wiggle a bit so that my finger could appropriately touch and ‘work’ a link. On this PLUS phone, my fingers and the links match perfectly, and I navigate around without any awkwardness.

I’ve had absolutely no issues with the operating system.

The touch id was new to me, because it was not available until the 5S (my last phone was a 5). It took me a little bit of time to get used to it, but now I find it seamlessly perfect, just a fraction of a second pause and my phone unlocks to my touch. (Unless I’ve recently gotten out of the shower. I have learned that wet, prune-like fingerprints are not a match to dry ones. :) )

If there is ONE thing I DON’T like on this phone, it is the location of the sleep/wake button. They moved it over on the side. When I squeeze it, I find that I am simultaneously squeezing the volume buttons on the opposite side … not good. And the side sleep/wake button also makes it a little trickier to do screen shots. Clearly this is not a deal-breaker, but I am still fumbling with that I wish they hadn’t button move.

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It takes great pictures, but of course, that is nothing new. Look at this lovely sunset that I grabbed through my bedroom window one evening last week.

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and again, a few minutes later, as the colors changed ……

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All in all….. I’m delighted with my choice of the PLUS phone. Once I get the case that I’ve enjoyed for years on my previous phone (the manufacturer has been slow on the making of this size case) … I’ll have the just-about perfect phone for me.

 

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Weekend Distraction: Peggle

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 6.46.24 AMI can’t believe that I’ve been blogging for several years now, and have never mentioned Peggle!

Peggle is a wonderful mix of “fun” plus “addictive-enjoyment” plus “challenging-but-not-too-challenging” plus (again) “fun”.

Not much of a learning curve. The basic premise: you release a ball and it bounces around on the screen, bumping into dots of various colors. Your job is to aim that ball as it is released in a way that will maximize its collision with orange dots. Your main goal is to clear the screen of orange dots before you run out of balls.

There will be a few obstacles tossed your way (of course). But you’ll learn as you go.

When you start, you have a choice of several different “modes” of play. I recommend “Adventure” as this will move you along gradually, screen to screen, learning as you go.

It really is addictive fun. There is something rather hypnotic watching that ball bounce around on the screen.

Here are two random screen shots. The arrangement of dots will change with each screen, and sometimes some of them are moving targets.

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Peggle is 99¢ in the iTunes store

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Spotlight improved in iOS 8

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 9.05.08 AMThere are so many new features in iOS 8, it will take us a long time with our one-at-a-time approach to work our way through them all! But honestly, when I read articles like “35 things you need to know RIGHT NOW” or “100 little known features…blah blah blah”, well, I get overwhelmed.

So I’m keeping my turtle pace, even tho we have a lot of territory to cover. Baby steps.

Next up: Spotlight.

Spotlight USED to be a feature where you could do a search on your device (only). I originally thought that was silly, but over time, I’ve found it useful to find an app buried in a folder. (I created those folders to organize and find stuff easily, but that seems to have backfired.)

In iOS 8, Spotlight has been improved. It will now not only search your device, but also the internet. And so … if I search “Enya” on my phone, the search will turn up music that lives on my phone and also a link to a Wikipedia article about her (which is NOT on my phone… that’s on the internet.)

To access Spotlight, go to your home screen (a page full of icons). Now, pull down on your screen from the top of your device. Stay ON THE SCREEN as you pull down. If your finger goes higher onto the white or black surface of your phone, you’ll get a different delight. Put your finger between some icons near the top and pull down.

You’ll see a screen that looks like this. The new Spotlight.

From Skitch-30

Below is a screen grab of the results after I searched for the word “card”, looking for the card game I use to play Free Cell. Notice here that not only did it find the app for me, but it also found “card” in my contacts for a cardiology doc, it suggested the St Louis Cardinals as something I might find interesting (that’s a stretch…. I don’t live anywhere near there, so ..?? ) and the search also brought up emails and messages that included the word “card.”

From Skitch-31

Now, all of this is rather useless information if I’m just looking for an app, but I can certainly understand that situations arise where this broader search is necessary.

So if you are a person who wants all this extra stuff, you’re in luck. But if you DON’T (and that means me), you have the option to turn it all off.

Go to General > Spotlight Search

There you will see a screen like the one below. Notice all of the things that are checked to search!!! That happens by default, so if you don’t want them, you have to deselect them.

As soon as I publish this post, I have some “de-selecting” to do. :)

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