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.”

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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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How to Change the Number of Preview Lines in your Email on your iPhone or iPad

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. (or to refresh the memories for those of us who forget!)

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 8.10.11 PMWhen you bought your iPhone and/or iPad, the preview setting for your email was pre-set at 2. This means that before you open your individual emails on either device, you see not only the heading of the mail, but also the first two lines of text.

Consider your needs…. perhaps you want more privacy for your email? Then you can set it so that no lines preview at all. (As an added bonus, by setting your preview lines to zero, this frees up space so that more emails show on a single screen at once.)

Or perhaps you get a lot of email from a variety of sources and want more visible lines. When you see more lines, you can decide with a glance if you want to open a particular email, or just delete it. Poof! No opening necessary.

You can set these preview lines anywhere from 0 to 5. Out-of-the-box is set at 2, so if you haven’t changed it, your device is currently set at 2.

Here is how to change the number of visible preview lines: (Directions are the same for both the iPhone and the iPad)

Go to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars

Now select “Preview”

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You will be shown a screen with the choices: None, 1 Line, 2 Lines, 3 Lines, 4 Lines, 5 Lines.

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Select the number of lines you would like to see, and you’re done.

Return to your Mail, to see if you like your new choice. :)

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iPad Slowing Down? Try this Simple Fix, First

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 8.28.31 PMLast week my dear friend Mona had a sluggish iPad.

Really sluggish.

I watched as she tried to load a map, and it took
f o r e v e r.

Frustrating.

She did the housekeeping thing, and closed all the running apps. No difference. Sluggish, still.

So the next day she made an appointment with a Mac Genius.

They had the solution, and her iPad is speedy, once again.

What was the magic?

They told her to turn it off. Then on (of course :) ). Yes, that’s it.

Actually, the Genius suggested turning it off at least 3 times a week to improve and/or maintain the speed.

That was it. On and off. Remember this if your iPad gets sluggish (and iPhone, as well). It may not solve all your issues, but it can’t hurt.

Thanks, Mona!

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July 4th + Tech = hahahaha

It’s the 4th of July, and I wanted to recognize this US holiday on this blog.

But it’s a tech blog, after all, so my dilemma was how to combine tech + July 4th.

So, I turned to Google.

A search of “tech + July 4th” turned up the cartoon, below.

Problem solved! :)

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How to Assign a Unique Tone to a Particular Person’s Incoming Text Messages

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 6.25.38 PMOne of the first things most people do when they get their first smart phone is to link up special ringtones for certain people. You might have a particular ringtone to recognize (without looking) that it is your spouse calling, or any other special person.

But did you know that you can also do this for text messages?

Usually most of the text messages that arrive on my phone sound the same. I don’t necessarily look at my phone right away, so some messages might sit for a while before I respond to them.

Recently, though, I was having some work done on my house, and I needed to see the text messages from the contractor as they came in. The best way to do this was to assign a particularly loud and annoying sound specifically to the contractor so that when a message come in from that number, I would be sure to look at it.

This worked beautifully, and I never missed a message. :)

Here is how to assign a sound to a particular texting person:

Go to your Contacts and select the person you want to customize.

Tap on EDIT and scroll down… you will see “text tone” as a choice. Tap on that.

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Now scroll through the sound choices, pick the one you want, and tap “done.”

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That’s all there is to it!

From now on, a text message from your special contact will be identified with your uniquely assigned tone.

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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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Punctuation Shortcut for your iPhone and iPad

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. (or to refresh the memories for those of us who forget!)

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 8.18.15 AMAnyone who has done any typing on the iPhone or on the iPad has noticed the multiple steps needed to insert punctuation.

You have to tap the 123 button, tap your punctuation, and then tap the ABC button to return to the letter keyboard. That’s 3 taps!

Doesn’t ONE tap sound better?

Here’s how you can add punctuation with just ONE tap:

When you get to the moment that you need punctuation, put your finger on the 123 button and HOLD. Now, SLIDE your finger to the punctuation you need, and then, RELEASE.

From Skitch-3

Poof! Your punctuation has appeared in your text, and your keyboard has returned to the letters so you can continue typing.

Easy, breezy. :)

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A Question for Readers …….

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 8.09.29 AMThis is the time of the year where my Kindle is always within reach. I take it everywhere.

I read a lot. My favorite kind of book is historical fiction, “Pillars of the Earth” being a great example. And if it is really good … I like it LONG (because I’m always sad when a great book comes to an end. :( )

I know a lot of the readers of this blog are also voracious readers.

Here’s a question that I saw on twitter the other day:

What was the LAST BOOK that you recommended to someone?

Hmmmm. Interesting question! Not any-old recommendation. Not your favorite book. But the LAST book that you recommended to someone.

My answer: The last book I recommended to someone was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. Set in France during the occupation, a reluctant architect designs intricate hiding places for Jewish citizens. It is a page-turner!

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How about you? What was the LAST BOOK that you recommended to someone?

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