Are you in the path of the Blizzard? Power-Up!

Preparing for a Blizzard means lots of things….

But from the perspective of this blog…. Charge your devices! Wind + snow = power outages. So start the storm with fully charged batteries.

One of the other rituals of snowstorm preparation is the bread and milk run to the grocery store. I joined the fray this afternoon and I can personally report …. the stores were mobbed.

I came across this short video which pretty much sums up the sentiment thoughout the Northeast US today….. :)

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Are Your Passwords on this List?

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 7.13.08 AM

Every year, Splashdata publishes a list of the “worst passwords,” and this year’s list was announced a few days ago.

The number ONE worst password? “123456”

The word “password” has topped the chart for a while, but was unseated last year by “123456.” The very-bad-choice-of-a-password……. “password” …… remains at number 2 for this list.

I assume no one reading this blog is using either of these two passwords (am I right?)
BUT…..
are you guilty of using any of the others on this list?

Take a look…. and give a thought to your own password safety. A safe password should have a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. It should not contain personal information. You should have unique passwords for different accounts. And, you should change your password often.

Worst Passwords 2014

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Technology has Changed the Way We All Do Things …. Pets Included

Screen Shot 2015-01-09 at 7.30.17 AM

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PMTech

Technology + Neighborly Cooperation = WOW

A group of neighbors in Yucaipa, California, worked together to put together this amazing holiday display of lights. Uploaded to YouTube earlier this week, it immediately went viral.

I can’t imagine the effort that had to go into this. Filmed by a drone, and set to music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, it is well worth three+ minutes of your time.

Sit back and enjoy!

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

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?

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 3.23.36 PM

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

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?

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 6.01.13 PM

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 827 other followers