No More Starbucks Lines?

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 8.13.41 PMI’ve had the Starbucks app on my iPhone for many months, now (maybe years? Time goes so fast!).

I don’t use Starbucks often, very seldom, really, but when I do, I use my Starbucks app to pay for my order. Before the app, I would have to hunt through my purse for a gift card which I usually had hanging about. But with the app, any received gift card just gets loaded into the app and gets used directly from my phone. (and I will admit that since I use Starbucks so rarely, I never remember exactly what to do. Kudos to the very harried but helpful baristas who always politely take my phone and hold it up to whatever machine works its magic and pays for my coffee.)

This week, Starbucks has updated their app. Apparently you can now ORDER and PAY IN ADVANCE directly from the app on your phone. This means that when you arrive at the store, your order should be waiting for you.


I may not be a Starbucks regular, but I love this idea. Each experience I have had at this store usually involved considerable time standing in Starbucks lines, and wouldn’t care to make that a regular occurrence.

So for city-dwellers or Starbucks regulars, this could be a real time saver. I’ll be interested to see how it works out in real life.

My understanding is that this is now available across the USA and also in many Starbucks stores in London.

Starbucks app is FREE in the iTunes store.

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An Update about Updating to iOS9…..

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 7.00.00 AMSo ……. I still have not updated to the next iOS system. And for those of you who are not techy, and happy enough with the way your phone is working, I recommend that you wait a bit longer, too.


Well, apparently, as usual, there are bugs. But a few of these bugs are a bit more challenging than the typical variety of inconvenience. THIS time, your iPhone could crash during the install (requiring a full restore :shock: ) and another “helpful” change is messing with people’s data plans.

Interesting, too, was the impact of this update on this blog. Usually gets about 500+ hits a day. Suddenly, after the update was released, the daily hits nearly doubled. I could not understand why, but I did see that most of the hits were landing here because of a search for turning off game center pop ups. Apparently that is another issue with the new update …. a very pesky pop up.

I’m going to wait a while longer. I have done a full restore before (more about that on another blog post to come) but I would certainly rather avoid a full restore, so…… waiting.

Bottom line: For me, and the rest of you regular folks who like to USE your smartphone, but NOT tinker with it, I suggest you do nothing right now.

Yes, I am going to wait a bit longer to update, and to Gina, Mona, Trudi, et al. …… if you haven’t done it already, I suggest you wait, too.

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Google Keep is now available for iPhones and iPads

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 7.44.21 PMI love my iPhone and iPad, but I’m not a person who is wed to Apple-only devices. I’m a Kindle person (never liked the whole i-Books thing). And I enjoy Google, too. I prefer Google maps to Apple maps, and I use a Google calendar to run my life. Fortunately, Apple, Google and Amazon seem to be playing together nicely because somehow it all just works.

And now … another treat from Google! They have recently made their Google Keep app available for our Apple devices. Yay! (It’s been around for a while on those (boo!) Android thingys :wink: )

Google Keep is a note-taking app that lets you keep everything in one place ….. and syncs flawlessly across your devices. (My Google Calendar has never let me down, and I’m expecting the same performance from Google Keep.)

I installed it on my iPhone, and added a few notes (both typed and verbal). Then I installed the app on my iPad. When I opened the app on my iPad, everything that I had done on the iPhone was there waiting for me. Synced. Flawlessly.

And it’s beautiful. I love the way the notes appear on the page (notes can be color-coded). You can also set reminders with this app by both time and/or location. You can make lists, add photos … it’s really all around goodness.

Please excuse my screenshot of this app’s screenshot, but I was so excited I have already filled my Google Keep app with far too many personal items to share the screenshots on this blog!

Google Keep is FREE in the iTunes store

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Weekend Distraction: The Living Room Candidate

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 8.03.10 AMPolitics. Sigh.

The US Election for President is OVER A YEAR away and already we have 24/7 coverage of the candidates.

Good grief. Does anyone else think that’s crazy?
But I digress…….

Even if politics is not your ‘thing’, it’s quite interesting to look back through the years, all the way to 1952, to see the Presidential Campaign Commercials. There are many commercials available to watch for EVERY candidate, winners and losers.

The early ones are especially fun to watch. So very VERY different from today.

Enjoy! The Living Room Candidate – Commercials.

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Amazon Prime on SALE for ONE DAY only September 25

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 3.35.46 PMAmazon Prime Membership usually costs $99 a year, but this Friday, September 25, it will be on sale for new customers for just $67 for the year.

Amazon Prime gives you free two-day shipping on the Prime products you purchase on Amazon. There is also a boatload of free music available to Prime members, and free videos, as well. Although their video library is not as deep as Netflix, it is substantial, and most recently they added the “download and watch later” option (which is wonderful for travelers).

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Access to a Kindle lending library is also part of an Amazon Prime membership. (This is limited to only certain books, and just one borrowed book per month.)

Another benefit of Prime membership is one I haven’t used yet…. but I plan to give it a try shortly. Unlimited Photo Cloud storage. (This is exciting to me. I have far too many photos on my devices!)

Two day shipping, free music, free videos, free photo cloud storage and a kindle lending library.

$67 instead of $99! If you’ve been considering Amazon Prime, this is a great opportunity to give it a whirl.

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The Apps I found to be Most Helpful for Cross-Country Driving

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 5.15.22 PMLast July we took a month-long road trip. I live on the east coast and we drove all the way to the west coast, passing through 15 states. Being an east-coast person, where facilities exist at every highway exit, and internet access is everywhere, I anticipated fretted (just a bit) that there would be times on this drive where I would find myself in pockets of “no service.” Like many of you I have come to rely on my iPhone for directions, recommendations, reservations, information and reviews and so I did what I could to prepare for “life without” my smartphone. :shock:

To my surprise, I never found cell service to be a problem. I got the dreaded “no service” occasionally, but not nearly as often as I had expected. Even on remote route 2 in northernmost Montana, cell service was surprisingly available.

Before leaving, I loaded my iPhone with apps that I thought might be useful. I didn’t dig too deep, so most of the apps I used were pretty mainstream, and their usefulness varied according to where-in-the-world I was.

It goes without saying that the Camera and Photos were both used a LOT.

And Weather. I have several weather apps on my phone, although three of them are local. So I turned to the standby Weather Channel app to check forecasts for the places we were going.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 6.52.15 PMAnother weather app that I found to be most helpful was Radar US.

By keeping an eye on the radar, we were able to time some outdoor events in between approaching storms.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 6.40.15 PMI used Google Maps constantly. I used it for navigation and I used it to look ahead for traffic.
However, I soon learned that “traffic” was really not a problem in most of the areas we explored. (True story: The very WORST traffic of our entire adventure happened as we arrived back in our own area, about 20 minutes from home. 30 days of driving, and we got stuck during the last half hour.)

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.03.30 PM When you’re a stranger in a strange land, Yelp is a treasure. There was a time that Yelp was most helpful only in cities, but I am here to report that even in the smallest of towns I found that folks had reviewed the (very) few eating establishments thoroughly. We had several delicious meals in places that we would have missed without turning to Yelp for advice.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.29.18 PMiExit was wonderfully helpful. There is nothing better when riding down a highway than being able to look ahead to determine when and where you might stop for gas or food.

I found that this app was even useful in the sparsely populated areas, because I was able to see at a glance how many exits ahead had nothing …. making a stop “now” even more imperative. As someone who lives on the busy East Coast, I live in a world where EVERY exit of EVERY highway is populated with numerous motels, gas stations and eateries. It rapidly became clear that this is not the norm for most of the country, and while looking ahead down a highway on this app I was delighted when I was finally able to report an exit with facilities.

Entertainment: I had anticipated that there would be some long and rather dull stretches of road, so I loaded up some entertainment on my phone to keep us awake occupied as we drove.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.51.07 PMOf course I loaded my iPhone with many favorite Podcasts for listening as we drove. To my surprise, we didn’t listen nearly as much as I thought that we would. But they were available to fill some time if we needed them, and that was good.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.48.55 PMMy husband is a great fan of trivia, and so I selected a new trivia app for the drive, ExQuizit. We used it often, and found it delightful. There are many options available within the app. You can choose a single category, or two or several, and you can choose the number of questions you want, as well. You also have the opportunity to select from Normal, Hard, or Expert questions. The game has an option to play with friends, but we never used that. We played “solo” and just tried to conquer the questions together. I am not a trivia fan, but I actually found this an enjoyable way to pass some time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 7.59.33 PMNo drive across country can be accomplished without looking for a license plate from each state. And of course… there’s an app for that. Although pen and paper would do just fine, this was actually kind of fun and convenient. State Plate Hunt includes not only the 50 states of the USA, but also the states, provinces and territories of the USA, Canada and Mexico. When you see a plate, just tap the state and the app will mark it as “found.” (How did we do? 47 states. 47! grrrrr. We missed Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont. I understand Hawaii, but wasn’t anyone from Rhode Island or Vermont riding around this summer?)

Before leaving home, I would have guessed that Waze, AroundMe, and GasBuddy would all have been favorites, but I used those apps rarely. I’m sure there are some great road-trip apps that I missed, so if you have some you enjoy, please share!

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