How to Name that Tune with iOS8

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 7.32.44 AMI remember having great fun several years ago when my son introduced me to Shazam, an app that let’s you identify music that you hear playing. We sat there testing it with all sorts of tunes and found ourselves amazed at the capability of the (then) new and extraordinary app.

I never installed that app (it went from “free” to a pretty hefty charge) and I didn’t really see the need. It was fun, but not worth the $$$.

In iOS8, Apple has just given us that fun… for free!!

Siri has been been teamed up with Shazam and can now identify songs for you …….. and it’s pretty darn awesome I think. (I continue to be blown away with all the things that new tech can do.)

If you hear a song playing from ANY source (a cd, the radio, the television, a speaker in an elevator) just ask Siri: “What song is playing?”

Siri will ask to be left alone for a moment while she listens … and then she’ll name that tune.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time :shock: a little while testing Siri’s new abilities. (in my defense….it’s fun!)

I pulled up songs on my computer and asked Siri to identify the song. I was selecting pretty common stuff, so I decided to go deeper into my library. Trick her, I would!

I found a soundtrack from a very limited run Broadway show from 1962. I looked through the songs, and selected a random basically-unknown song. I was sure I got her on this. After all…an obscure song from an obscure show from 52 years ago? Ha!

“What song is playing?” I asked with devilish glee. Seconds later …… Siri named the tune AND the singer. Whoa!

I NEVER “got” her. She named the tune 100% of the time. Even classical music.

I can’t help it. I find this amazing.

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iOS 8 will now SLOWLY come to this blog

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.24.52 AMReminder: This is a blog for EVERYDAY people. If you are a tech-person or have advanced skills, you are in the wrong place.

I find that when I read tech blogs or articles they are often filled with lots of things I don’t understand or need, and I have to sift down to get to the nitty gritty (dating myself with that term!). :shock: Often there is a nugget of precious info that can help me enjoy this word of tech-wonder, but I have to look for it.

Or …… sometimes info on a tech blog can be simply overwhelming with too much information. Too too too much at once. If I see too much at once, it jumbles together. That won’t happen here.

So, I am taking this opportunity to remind you that I GO SLOWLY.

I have placed a special link to an “iOS 8” page up at the top of this blog.

I will GRADUALLY start exploring iOS 8 features one at a time. And as I do, I will group them on that page, above.

One at a time. Slowly. Step by step. Bit by bit.

This approach helps this regular person understand what she’s learning, and I hope it helps you, too.

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The Solarbox: Great idea! More, please!

London is full of iconic red telephone booths. Unfortunately, since the invention of mobile phones, most of the phone booths are now useless.

From SkitchHere is a photo of my hand, holding up the remnants of what used to be a real phone, and clearly over time it was duck-taped and mended …. but never actually repaired.

It didn’t work. Boat ride to Greenwich - 28 - Version 3

I never found a working phone inside a red phone booth (and I did look …. I was curious!).

and so ……

Enter the solarbox!

The solarbox is an old red phone booth with an upgrade. It is painted green and has solar panels on the roof.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 6.17.18 PMStep into the solarbox and you can plug in your phone or tablet to get power. FREE power. You’ll have to watch a few ads for the privilege, but I think most people would agree that that’s ok. A fine trade-off. A few ads for a power-up. Yay!

The solar box webpage sums it up with a single sentence:
“Transforming disused telephone boxes into free solar powered charging points for phones”

The first solarbox just ‘went live’ a few days ago, with plans to add 5 more around the city by April 2015.

Congratulations to the solarbox designers. A clever, clever idea that I’m guessing will spread to other cities as well.

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You CAN wash and dry some wearable tech. But I wouldn’t do it on purpose.

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 8.12.11 PMLife has been a little busy in my house these past few days. (The excitement involved an ambulance ride, emergency room care and considerable discomfort ….for my spouse. )

My end of the deal was to caretake and do all the things that are usually shared by two.
But as we all know, when you’re very busy, and distracted, mistakes happen.

My mistake?

I washed (and dried!) my Fitbit. argh.

A Fitbit is a delightful piece of wearable tech that keeps track of your steps for each day. It’s wonderful, motivating, and I use it every day.

But because I was distracted, I did not remove it from a pocket before I threw some laundry into the machine. So my Fitbit was washed. Then rinsed and spun.

And then, adding insult to injury, it went in the dryer. :shock:

This morning I looked for my Fitbit and with a sudden shock I realized …… uh oh. Did I? (you know that feeling. A moment of weak-in-the-knees)

I went to the dryer and there it was. Nestled among the fluffy socks and warm towels was my Fitbit. I reached into the dryer, and pulled it out.

I expected to find a soggy mess, water inside the screen, and maybe a frozen display.

But nope.

It’s perfect!

It looks fine. Every screen is clear and sharp. It’s working perfectly.

wow. Washable tech. Who knew?

Have you ever had a similar accident? Or (gasp) washed your phone?

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Improving the Paperwhite: Amazon Introduces the Kindle Voyage

Screen Shot 2014-09-22 at 7.17.56 AMLast week the tech world was all abuzz about the new iPhones. In the middle of all that excitement, Amazon quietly released a bunch of new goodies. (at least it seemed like it was “quietly” to me….)

I know that many of my readers are HUGE Paperwhite fans (me, too!!!).

Honestly, I could not imagine how it would be possible to improve that device. It seems darn near perfect.

And yet, as technology moves forward, so do the devices, and Amazon has now ramped up their Paperwhite to a new level, and they are calling this NEW eReader the Kindle Voyage.

So how did they improve ‘perfect’?

1. It’s THINNER.

2. TWICE as many pixels as the Paperwhite, making the text super-crisp.

3. Added tapping sensors on the edge so that you can gently press to turn a page.
(I like love this. I missed my buttons.) You can still turn the page with finger swipes.

4. Automatic light sensors will adjust the light according to the light in the room. It will gradually decrease in a dark room, as your eyes adjust to the dimmer light.

5. General re-design, including a flush-front.

Wifi only, with special offers, costs $199. Removing the special offers hikes the price to $219. (I have the “special offers” appearing on my Paperwhite, and it really doesn’t bother me at all.)

I thought long and hard about this, because I really love my Paperwhite. I did not feel the need to level-up ……. UNTIL I saw that page-turning sensor. That is the one thing I have always missed on the Paperwhite. I am a bed-reader, and when you are comfortably reclining on your side, holding the kindle with one hand, it can be awkward and inconvenient to try and swipe the pages. It’s a nightly struggle to position the Paperwhite just right, and usually I don’t. I missed the old Kindle buttons on the earlier models.

And so I am going to try it. Amazon’s generous return policy makes this a no-brainer for me, because if I don’t like it, I can easily return it. No harm, no foul.

To my surprise, MANY people must be ordering this, because when I tapped the “buy” button on Friday (just a short time after the quiet launch) …. I was told that I won’t be receiving my Kindle Voyage until NOVEMBER 28! :shock: (when it first went on sale, the shipping date was in October!). Wow. I guess the market is strong for this new eReader.

Amazon has also released 4 other products.

1. A Fire HD tablet for only $99. Cheapest tablet available.

2. Fire HD KIDS Edition. “If they break it, we replace it. No questions asked.” If there are Kids in your life, this is worth a closer look.

3. FireHDX 8.9 Big improvements to this tablet.

4. Basic Kindle. Touch screen. No light, but lots of other features. $79

For further information on all of these products, just go to Amazon. They are all displayed on their home page with links to more details.

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A New Word for you to Learn: Phablet

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 8.00.26 PMIf you haven’t heard it yet, you’ll hear it soon.

Phablet

Phablet – a phone that’s big enough to be (almost) considered a tablet.

Samsung has produced a phablet for years with it’s Galaxy Note. And do people like it? They seem to love it. So Apple is now jumping on that bandwagon with the iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 Plus = the newest phablet on the market.

There was a great review of the iPhone 6 Plus in the New York Times today. Written by a bona-fide big-phone hater, he talks about the time he spent with this new phablet, pros and cons.

I think he surprised himself.

He finds many pluses to make up for the lack of pocketability.

Read the whole article, here:

With Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, Phablets Get Serious.

Now I’m starting to get excited to get my hands on one.

I’ll not be in line at the Apple stores on Friday (I’m not THAT crazy ambitious :) )

But …

I placed my order! And I should get my iPhone 6 Plus (aka Phablet) in about 3 weeks.

If you are considering the iPhone 6 Plus, I would suggest you take a few minutes and read the NY Times review.

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Apple Event on Tuesday. Rumors will continue until then…..

Screen Shot 2014-09-07 at 8.10.10 AMApple’s big event will unfold on Tuesday, September 9. And all the rumors will be put to rest.

But for now, the internet is buzzing with speculation.

It is generally agreed that the newest iPhone will be offered in several sizes. Personally, I’m hoping for a larger screen, but I know lots of folks want it to stay the same. So, the best solution (if Apple asked me :) ) would be to produce several sizes (like they do with the iPad). Let people have a choice.

And then there is the iWatch. This is interesting. Wearable technology is wildly popular, and personally, I think that Apple is a little late getting into this game.

Last Christmas, my son gave me a Fitbit. This is a little gadget that keeps track of your steps and sends you encouraging text messages to urge you on to meet your goal. It holds a charge for weeks, and when the battery gets low, it sends me an email to alert me that it needs a charge. Delightful. No fuss, just fun. And flawless. It just works…. and it is very popular. Other companies have similar products.

Now the rumor is that Apple will be unveiling it’s own piece of wearable technology, dubbed the iWatch (it probably will not be called “iWatch”). It is assumed that it will be health related, keeping track of steps, heart rate, etc. And then the speculation continues … what else will it do? After all, many companies are already producing health related wearable gadgets (like my Fitbit). Will there be apps for this iWatch? Will it access the internet? How on earth can you fit a keyboard on a watch?

I’ve also read about a possible mobile-payment-system on the iPhone…that should be interesting.

…also a new operating system (here comes iOS8).

and….. perhaps a new LARGER iPad.

All questions will be answered soon….

stay tuned….

The Apple event: What’s probably coming

What To Expect From Apple’s iPhone Event On September 9

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Acrobatic Motorcyclist in Russia

In this technologically-filmed world of ours, with cameras everywhere, we are capturing more and more events that previously would only have been seen by a few eyewitnesses.

This is an amazing example. Watch as the car on the right moves into the left lane, as a motorcyclist chooses to use the same lane at the same time.

This is one lucky guy. :shock:

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How to Capture ACTION with your iPhone Camera

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I absolutely love this feature.

I remember (years and years) ago buying a digital camera specifically because it had this ability so that I could “catch” action shots at my son’s sporting events. And now, here it is, always available right in our pocket!

I’m guessing you might not know that you have this feature …. but once you do, you’ll be using it to get that PERFECT shot.

So how do you capture action with your iPhone?

Simply bring up your camera on your iPhone.

Aim, and HOLD DOWN THE CAPTURE BUTTON. Your iPhone will snap photos quickly. A Photo Burst.

From Skitch-13

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A Funny Video from the Onion, Reading Snobs Rejoice!

To my readers: This video is fake. It is a product of the clever writers at The Onion . It is fake. It is satire.

I’m making this point, because the video looks so real. And if you are not familiar with The Onion, well…. you might think….. Just sayin’. :)

And so, here it is ladies and gentlemen. A new Kindle for the Reading Snobs. For those folks who want everyone to know what book they are reading.

In the old days, you could throw a War and Peace dust jacket over a sleazy romance novel, but no more. When you hold a Kindle, people can’t “see” what you’re reading… until now.

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