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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Apps for your new Device: 10 apps I use and several others to try!

Did you get a new device for Christmas? A device might be an iPhone, an iPad or any sort of tablet or phone that uses Android as an operating system. Because I use an iPhone and iPad that is what is highlighted in this post. Most of these apps have android versions.

Now is the time that you are probably looking for new apps to use on your device. Since there are so many this blog will just share a few favorites that you might want to try.


I use my iPhone and my iPad several times a day. Here are the ways that I use them. 

1. I use the Clock in the morning for meditation. Once I start meditating I find that having a timer set helps me to focus on my inner self instead of what time is left. I also set it for an hour when I am with a client to help us keep track of the time we work together. I also use it as an alarm clock when I am traveling.

2. I use the Map function, either Maps or Google Maps, to figure out how to get to my next customer's house. I can even have it talk to me to tell me the directions as I drive. Once I even used it when I was already at the address I was supposed to be at, but could not find the building. By following the blue dot that showed where I was in relation to the destination I finally found it.

3. Of course I use it as a phone on a regular basis.

4. I use Messages to text my husband when I just have something short to say like, "on my way home"

5. When I am in a waiting room or flying and want time to pass quickly I play Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga. These are the kinds of games I like, but there are tons of other games with better graphics and more action.

6. Gmail has an app that connects to my email, so if I am somewhere that I can't get it and need to I can access it. I find it harder to write back on the iPhone, but sometimes I do.

7. Contacts-I use this all of the time to find addresses, emails or phone numbers for people. I really LOVE the fact that it is with me all of the time.  I can add people into it easily.

8. Calendar-I use this all day to schedule things for the future, to see what I am doing in the next few hours or even to look back to see what I did in the past.

9. Grocery IQ - This is an awesome app that keeps my grocery list for me. I can put into it lists of items that I buy from certain stores and then when I am at the store it is easy to look and see what I usually buy there. I use it to make my weekly shopping list and then check off the items as I get them. I never write grocery lists anymore!

10. Lots of sites are websites that also have mobile apps. I use Yelp to find restaurants I am interested in going to OR to review services that I have used. Facebook has an app. These apps make working on your device a bit easier and help you skip the step of having to search for them on a browser

I use the iPhone all day. It has changed how I do things. As you can see, most of the apps that I regularly use came with the phone or are free to download. There are so many apps out there that I don't usually download anything that costs something.

Following is a list of other recommended apps that I found online with a few comments.

Waze - This is another MAP app that is free and comes highly recommended. It can also give you traffic warnings. It can be used in a social way so that others can see where you are driving and you can see their routes.

Shazam - This is an amazing app that can find the name of any music that you hear. It does have to be close enough to the origin of the sound to figure it out. I am in a coffee shop now and it is not able to find the music that is playing.  

i-nigma - By now you have probably seen those square marks that look sort of like bar codes. They are often on advertisements, but you see them all over now and they ask you to scan them for more information. These are QR-Codes. i-nigma is a QR-Code scanner. Here is one that I made with another app called QR Code maker.

Layar- This app lets you get an idea of what people who are using Google Glass might be seeing. It is sort of a futuristic app. Amazing and fun.

Lose It - This app can help you keep track of what you are eating, how much you are exercising and how your weight is changing. It works on calories and tells you the calories of food. It can read barcodes and enter the information from the barcode into the program. 

Tree ID - This is an app I downloaded to find out about a tree that I did not recognize in my yard. It walked me through the identification process. I think it is really handy to have.
Flashlight - This is not an app, but is a part of the regular operating system on an iPhone. If you slide up from the bottom after turning it on you are given a window with a lot of choices. Choose the one that looks like a flashlight and it makes the camera into a very strong light.

As I wrote this and looked for icons I realized that there are many more apps that I use often. There is just so much available!

Some of the apps in this post are from this New York Times article:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Should I use 2 Step-Authentication?


Authentication means making sure you are who you say that you are. Using a password is the main way that you are authenticated by most websites. But what if someone finds out your password. Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter (and other large companies) have designed a way that you can have two layers of security for your accounts with them. First you have to put in your password. Second a random code is texted to your cell phone. When you get the message you type the code into the website and you are in. If someone has your password it is most likely that they do not have your cell phone also. 


The more secure you want to be online the more important it is to use the two-factor authentication. You can set this so that it does not happen on your own computer, but only when you are using a public computer or one that belongs to someone else. 

In Facebook click on the gear in the top right to get the settings.  Then choose Security. Look down the list on the left until you see Log in Approvals. This is where you set up your phone to be an extra layer of security.

In Google after you log in find your picture, or the default picture in the top right corner. When you click on it a window will pull down and you should click on the word Privacy. This will open a webpage that will give you lots of information about how to be more secure. If you want to set up 2-step authentication slide down the page and click to "find out more about 2-step authentication. 

Follow similar steps to set this up in Yahoo, Twitter and other programs. The choice will be found in your settings under security or privacy. 

The more secure your computer is the more difficult it is for anyone, including you, to use it. I like the advice of Socrates "Know Thyself". How old are you?  How good is your memory? What do you use your computer for? How often do you use computers other than your own? Do you have a cell phone and do you use Text Messaging? 

For someone who uses a computer all of the time for business purposes or for regular banking it is a good idea to be as secure as possible even if it is frustrating sometimes. For someone who mostly plays solitaire and sometimes gets online to do email it may not be worth the effort. Then there are all of the many cases that fall inbetween. So, know yourself, is the best advice that I have. 


Since we are talking about security I thought I would also mention the Captcha Codes. Wikipedia says it stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. 

You often have to fill them out at the bottom of a form or application that you are submitting. They are getting more and more difficult to interpret. They were devised to make sure that it was a real person who is filling out the form. Today there are robot computers that can fill in forms and send notes, but they cannot read pictures of letters and numbers. 

If you cannot read the code on the page that you are on there is a speaker you can click on to hear the audio of the captcha. You can also press the circle arrows (or reload) to get a new code. There are several really tricky letters and numbers to read (L, l, I, and 1 for example), so never feel like you are stupid. You are SO much smarter than any computer.

Friday, January 3, 2014

How Can Airplanes Allow WiFi Use?

 Last weekend I flew to Chicago to visit my son. It was a new experience on a flight for a few reasons. None of the reasons had to do with weather although it was an issue this weekend.

For Christmas I got a GoGo Pillow for my iPad.
It actually fits all sorts of tablets (kindle, nook, android, mini ipad, regular ipad, etc...) The thing about it is that the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) rules have changed so that you can use small devices on the plane even on take off. They still ask that you put away your laptop because it is big. If you want to pay you can even be online while FLYING!  Since I am not a Geek, I don't really know HOW they do that. From what I have read you are connecting to a WiFi that is on the plane, but you cannot use other Internet Connections or use your phone. 

What you CAN do is connect to your email online, so that you send and receive right away. You can stream a video or TV show from the Internet to watch rather than have to take up space downloading it to your device first. You can just look up things on the Internet (maybe plan your trip or shop!) while on the plane. Our airline was offering TV shows and movies that you could purchase and watch through your device for a small amount (99 cents for a TV show). This was on a 3 hour flight where there is usually no entertainment (except for the flight attendents reading the rules).

They ask that during the take off and landing that your device (iPhone, Kindle, etc...) is in Airplane Mode. That means that you have chosen the setting where your device cannot try to connect (ping) during that time. Laptops and devices are always sending out messages to see what else is around them. Even if you are not going to get onto the Internet your computer can see what options are available. 

So, what did I do? Well, it may sound boring, but it did make the time go fast. I set my iPad up on the GoGo Pillow so that I could see it easily. Then I played Candy Crush Saga, Solitaire, and Angry Birds Star Wars. No one told me to put it away when taking off or landing!  I did check out connecting to the plane's wifi and decided I didn't want to spend any extra money to be online. 

After several hours in the airport with a flight delay because of weather I was pretty brain dead, so this was all I could do at the time!  Also, take offs and landings are times when I want to be occupied with something other than noticing how well things are going. iPad games are really good for that!

I also liked using my Gogo Pillow to as an iPad case. I don't think that all tablets will fit, but anything the same size or smaller than an iPad 2 will fit inside the zippered area.  It is pretty cool.


Extra Bonus Information:  How to put your iPad or iPhone into Airplane Mode. On the HOME screen choose the Settings icon. The first thing you see when you get there is Airplane Mode on the left side. Just click the slider and it will turn green. That shows that Airplane mode is on. As long as this is set you will not be able to connect to the WiFi at all.