Blogging Break AND Awesome Views of our Planet

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As I take a bit of a blogging break, I thought I would leave you something to enjoy while I am gone.

This is Technology at its FINEST!!!

By clicking the link below, you will be taken to a LIVE view of the planet Earth from the International Space Station.

It is Awesome. Mesmerizing. Humbling.

If you see a black screen, the space station is on the dark side of the earth. If you scroll down the page a bit, you will see a live map so that you can locate what part of the earth you are flying over (or confirm that the space station is on the dark side.)

It might take a few moments for the page to load, so be patient. It’s worth it.

This only went live back in April, as an experiment. Hopefully, they will keep it up.

I’ve bookmarked this site, and find myself returning to it often. What an awesome view.

One suggestion:
Once you are viewing our planet from the space station, click on the arrows in the right hand bottom corner of the screen so that the scene explodes to a full-screen view on your computer. Wowza.

Keep your eyes on the screen…. you’ll see that you are actually, virtually, moving around our planet.

Enjoy!!

Live view from the International Space Station

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New Survey: Cellphones ONLY for 2 out of 5 in the US

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 5.33.04 PMThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been watching the evolution of cell phones vs landlines for the last several years in the US.

They recently released a new report which boils down to the news that 2 out of 5 homes in the US have ditched the landline and are cellphone only.

That’s twice what it was 5 years ago, but in spite of that, the trend seems to be slowing down.

You can read more about this report from several links I will put at the end of this post.

But …..

This made me wonder about those of us here in the blogosphere … worldwide, not just in the USA.

So let’s weigh in!

Here at my house, we have both. However, we don’t use the landline anymore. It’s there, and it collects all the telemarketer calls (and a lot of dust), but we don’t use it as our phone. I would dump it, but it comes “bundled” with cable TV service and internet, and basically costs nothing, so…… we keep it and let the answering machine pick up any stray calls that come through there.

My children, however, are all adults with homes of their own, and there are no landlines for them. Cell phones only in those households.

How about you? Are you a cell phone-only house?

Or do you have a cell-phone(s) AND a landline?

4 in 10 US Homes Are Cellphone Only, Skip Landline

Two in five U.S. homes have only cellphones: survey

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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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From Skitch-5

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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Alphabet Soup for the Tech Age

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Amazon’s New Fire Phone: Will you give up your iPhone?

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 3.43.56 PMToday Amazon announced their new product: A smartphone. Called the Amazon Fire Phone, it will be released on July 25 (pre-order, now).

So …. is this the phone that will make you give up your iPhone?

It seems that the iPhone has lost its WOW factor for many. When it first exploded into our world, it was an incredible leap of technology. But today, there are smartphones everywhere, and many folks no longer look at the iPhone as the one-and-only.

And today marks another new entry into the Smartphone universe. The Amazon Fire Phone.

The promo for it looks quite good. I think it all boils down to what do YOU want from your smartphone?

This new phone has several features that are standouts:

Mayday: For us un-techy types, this is HUGE. The Mayday button was introduced on the latest version of the Amazon Fire, and it has been a raging success. With the Mayday button, if you want to learn something about your phone, if you need some instruction, or if you are having a problem, you just tap the Mayday button and a LIVE person will appear on your screen to help you. Instantly. Just like that. This feature is a keeper, and I have to say, if I was considering my first smartphone, this would be a really big selling point. The helper can draw on your phone (arrows, etc) showing you exactly what to touch and how to do it. This is a major goodie to have on your phone.

Firefly technology: This is a ‘bell and whistle’ kind of thing, but also cool. Firefly will instantly recognize music, products, ads …. oodles of things in the world. With a touch of a button you get useful information and the ability to act on it as well.

One-handed reading: Just tilt the phone to scroll. (Why didn’t Apple do this? It’s brilliant!)

And how about this: With the purchase of the new Amazon Fire Phone you get one whole year of Prime, FREE. Prime gives you lots of perks in addition to the postage and quick mailing for items bought via Amazon. You also get access to a huge video streaming library, a library full of Kindle books to borrow and free music to stream and/or download. AND … if you are already a Prime member, if you purchase the Amazon Fire Phone, you get your Prime membership extended an additional year. That’s excellent!! That’s one year of Prime for EACH phone you buy. Three phones on one account? That’s three YEARS of Prime. Details, here.

The 32 GB phone will be $199 with a 2 year contract through AT&T. Other options also available.

You can learn more about the phone, and an in-depth look at all the features (MUCH more than I described) by clicking here.

So will you consider a change? Will this Amazon Fire Phone convince you to leave your iPhone behind?

There are a few things about this phone that tempt me. Me. A bona-fide Apple fan-boy-girl-lady. The Mayday button. The year of Prime. Yelp shows up directly on the maps. A larger screen. The one-hand tilt scrolling screen.

At this moment, I’m not sure. But to my own surprise, I’m considering it. Anyone who knows me (in real life) or through my blog knows that I like to take my time when approaching technology-changes. I always wait for a while, for example, before downloading the latest software update.

So I’ll not be jumping in right yet. I’ll wait and see. I’ll let others test the waters.

I’ll be trolling the internet for comparisons in every area for the iPhone vs Amazon Fire Phone. When I find a great comparison, item by item, camera vs camera, etc, I’ll be sure to link to it on this blog.

If this new phone lives up to it’s hype, a change for me is not out of the question. There are a lot of features here that I would appreciate.

This just might be my iPhone Waterloo.

How about you?

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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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Google Doodle Winner 2014 (US)

Did you notice today’s Google Doodle? It’s the winning entry for Google Doodle 2014 (US).

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100,000 submissions. 1 winner.

Audrey Zhang, 11, from New York.

Love how the technology combines with art to create oodles of doodles. And the themes of these doodles are marvelous ‘inventions.’ And considering that any invention will begin with a sketch … who knows?

Her original drawing was not animated, of course, but the Google People worked with her to bring to life her own ideas of movement.

Congratulations, Audrey!

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