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Monday
Apr012013

Print Straight From Your Android Device

Google Cloud Print is a new technology that connects your printers to the web. Using Google Cloud Print, you can make your home and work printers available to you and anyone you choose, from the applications you use every day. Google Cloud Print works on your phone, tablet, Chromebook, PC, and any other web-connected device you want to print from.

Monday
Feb042013

Waze Will Show You the Way

Waze: Outsmarting traffic, together.

Waze is an app for both Apple and Android that is quickly gaining popularity and notability in the world of savvy drivers.  I downloaded it a while back, but didn't use it much at first because I was afraid it would drain my battery if I kept it on for the duration of my hour and a half of commuting each day.

But, I kept hearing great things about it from my friends, so I decided to try it out.  I love it. 

Picture Waze as a traffice and maps app, with a social community.  For example, I joined the Broomfield to Boulder group, and now, each day on my commute to and from work, I receive real-time notifications (some are anonymous, some are identified) from other drivers in the group regarding traffic (including the average speed of drivers), wrecks (severity and how it's affecting traffic), police activity (including hidden and visible police with radars, red light cameras, etc.), and much, much more.  And, it doesn't drain my battery when it's on and running in the background while I drive!

If you're interested, please don't hesitate to go to the link at the top of the post to watch a guided tour of the app.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Monday
Jan072013

I bought an iPad. Now what?

When it comes to tablets, there are many great options. Once you've decided on the tablet you're going to purchase, there are even more options - color and size of memory being two of the most common.  Once you've chosen your tablet and options, you think you're home free...Wrong! 

That's where the real fun starts. 

LTS did a Brown Bag Learner's Lunch on tablets last week where we covered topics like:

- Apple vs. Android

- Neat apps we use on our tablets and smart phones to edit Microsoft documentsedit photos, for media consumption (Tweet Deck, Plume, and Flipboard), and to track our online purchases (which I blogged about here).

And, we briefly discussed the must-have and fun-to-have accessories for tablets:

From cases to keyboards, and everything inbetween.

I purchased an iPad in March for personal use. Upon the great advice of my colleagues, I purchased the Apple Care+ protection plan. Within three months of owning our iPad, the screen was shattered during a tragic hand-off gone wrong between my mother and my two-year old daughter, Danicka.

Shockingly, the iPad still worked perfectly...Besides the shards of glass users got in their fingers each time they swiped or touched it.

Again, upon the advice of my co-workers, I backed up the data from our iPad to the iCloud and made an appointment at our nearby Apple store at the 29th Street Mall in Boulder.

To my surprise, when I showed up to my appointment in the middle of a weekday, there were about 100 people waiting at the store.  I was glad I made that appoinment! I waited less than two minutes, they asked a few questions, took my old iPad, brought me a brand new one, and restored all of our data from the iCloud backup. I walked out of the store 15 minutes later.  It was magical.

Two days later, my daughter drew all over the new iPad with a black Sharpie marker.

Tip of the Day: Sharpie comes off of an iPad (or iPhone) with a combination of Windex and Baby Wipes. 

It was at that point, I realized a must-have for our tablet was going to be a Danicka-proof case:

This is the Griffin Technology Survivor Military-Duty case.  I bought mine off of Amazon.com for about $60.  It comes in a lot of different colors, but that's beside the point.  This thing is military- tested and approved.  What does that mean to me?  It's Danicka-proof!  The entire iPad is covered, including the screen, in a hard case and a soft/rubber cover. 

PROS:

  • Responsive screen
  • Easy to handle
  • Heavy duty
  • Lightweight
  • Bonus stand that makes it allows the iPad to stand, unassisted, on any flat surface

We have had this case for about eight months and have not had any more iPad casualties in our home.  The only con I have found with the case is that it was difficult to find a keyboard set up that would comfortably fit the iPad with the case on it because it makes the iPad thicker than normal.

After quite a bit of research, we chose the Apple wireless keyboard (top left) for $69 and the Origami workstation (bottom left) for $29.95 from Amazon.com.

I never used my iPad at work until I bought the keyboard and Origami workstation.  Now, you won't see me around Leeds without my complete set-up in-tow.  My note-taking speed and efficiency in meetings has increased greatly!

The keyboard uses two AA batteries that are easy to change out yourself, but you won't have to very often since the battery life is great.  It connects to the iPad easily, using Bluetooth, turns on in less than five seconds, and is very responsive.

The case easily fits the iPad - landscape or portrait - with the Survivor case on the iPad.  Also, the wireless keyboard fits in the Origami workstation with about a 1/2 inch extra on the end so the keyboard won't accidentally turn on when it's in your bag, which will drain your battery life fast!

The only con we have found is that this set up is not 'all-in-one'. When it's broken down, and I'm traveling with it, I carry my iPad separately from my keyboard/Origami workstation (see bottom, right picture).  There are all-in-one keyboards and cases available, but this is set up is what works best for me.

Everyone has different personal preferences, but it can be overwhelming once all of the options are introduced to you, especially in the world of technology!  If you have any questions about which tablet is best for you, what accessories would help make your life easier, or just want to come by to test the tablets we have on-site or see my set up, please come down to LTS, and we'll be glad to assist you. 

Monday
Dec312012

Top Android and iOS Apps of 2012

Ever wonder what apps everyone is using?  Here is a list of some of the top apps from 2012.

  1. Any.DO – (Free; Android & iOS): A robust way to link your to-do list across all of your Android and iOS devices.  Includes the ability to create location-based reminders, daily sorting, as well as emailing your to-do list.
  2. Dragon Dictation – (Free; iOS) Dragon Go! – (Free; Android): Convert your speech to text.  Great for composing emails, writing essays, searching the web, and much more. 
  3. Evernote – (Free; Android & iOS): Sync your notes, photos, audio files, and links across all of your computers and mobile devices.
  4. Flipboard – (Free, Android & iOS): Allows you to combine all of your feeds and social subscriptions into one location.
  5. Mint – (Free, Android & iOS): A simple and easy to navigate application that allows you to keep track of all of your finances.
  6. Nike+ Running – (Free, Android & iOS): Uses GPS to keep track of your runs, both indoors and out.
  7. Pandora – (Free w/ ads or $36/yr w/o ads; Android & iOS): Create customized radio stations based on your favorite songs and/or artists. Upgrading to Pandora One for $36/year is completely worth not having to listen to ads.
Friday
Nov302012

Nifty Mobile Apps

In the age of always-evolving mobile technologies, there are new, nifty mobile apps being released daily. I'd like to take the time to highlight two that I have discovered recently that have made my life easier:

Slice is a free app for Android and Apple mobile phone users, and it was voted one of the 20 best new iPhone and iPad apps of 2011 by Business Insider and start-ups to watch in 2012 by Inc.  It's a very simple way to organize everything you buy online - from shopping orders (from any website) to pizza orders and everything in between.  It tracks the orders, follows the packages from multiple places in one nifty place - on your phone!  It also gives you alerts if the price drops of a purchase you made, along with the contact information you need to follow up with the company.  Finally, it also manages purchases so you can organize and back up receipts.

I have found it be very valuable for all of the online shopping I do!

 

Unroll.me has a mission, and that mission is to end email overload!  It is free and easy to use, the only kicker is - currently - you can only use it on Gmail accounts.  It provides a painless way to end unwanted subscriptions and rollup the rest into an organized overview made just for you.  When I first ran it on my Gmail account, I didn't even know I was subscribed to half of the things it found - I was shocked.  I would encourage everyone try it out on their Gmail accounts.