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Liberate Your Time

Tired of Asking Your Children for Help with Your iPhones & iPads?

Jumping woman silhouetteCan You Answer “Yes” to at Least 1 of These Questions?

  • Are you often frustrated with your iPhone/iPad?
  • Do you dread asking your children for help with technology?
  • Do you feel like you can’t keep up with the changes in technology?

If so, help is here! Just enter your email below and click “Get Updates!”

Help is On the Way!

Santa“Haul out the holly. Put up the tree before my spirit falls again. Fill up the stocking. I may be rushing things but deck the halls again now…”

Each year, as Thanksgiving ends and my Christmas to-do list looms overwhelmingly long, there are ways I use technology to help me save time, save money or just save my sanity. I’d like to share my favorites with you in hopes that you will find this holiday season a little less stressful and more enjoyable.

1. Save your sanity

Let’s start with the dreaded gift exchange drawing. Someone (maybe you?) has the pleasure of tearing little pieces of paper, writing names on them, putting them in a container and drawing them one by one to create a gift exchange list to be distributed. And, if your family is like mine, you have to redraw for family members who can’t be assigned their own spouse or child.

Stop that nonsense and go to namedrawing.com. The beauty of this free site is that you can specify rules so that spouses don’t draw each other, or parents don’t draw children, etc. With the click of your mouse, the list is created. You can copy and paste the list into an email for everyone, and you’re done!

2. Save your money

Once you know which gifts must be purchased, it’s time to save some money. There are probably thousands of shopping comparison/coupon websites and apps.

A client recently told me about a site and app called PoachIt. What I like about PoachIt is that you can create “watch lists” for price reductions on specific products. With the PoachIt app you scan the barcode for an item in the store, add it to your watch list, and wait to be notified when it goes on sale at that store. Or, you can do a web search with the product name using PoachIt.com or the app. Additionally, it’s easy to find coupons from your favorite sites or stores for free shipping or extra discount promotion codes.

Unfortunately, PoachIt does not provide price comparison shopping, so try pricegrabber.com, the pricegrabber app or the Amazon Price Check app for that.

3. Save your time (and money)

How many of you have considered switching from mailed holiday cards to e-cards? There’s a really nice site called paperlesspost.com which offers beautiful free and very low-cost holiday cards. You can choose from traditional or photo cards and it’s so easy to use. Just pick a card, personalize it, enter your email list, schedule when you want it to be sent, and that’s it!

4. Get in the spirit!

Finally, to keep you in the spirit of Christmas while you are wrapping, cooking or creating e-cards, download the Pandora app to your mobile device, select your favorite holiday genre and enjoy this “most wonderful time of the year…”

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Sharing a Holiday Chuckle

I came across this funny video while drinking my coffee this morning and thought I’d share it with everyone!

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P1000792My mother thinks I’m addicted to my iPhone (and iPad and computer). What can I say? I guess “if the shoe fits…”

It’s not what you think. I rarely use social media. I apologize now to all my Facebook friends for not posting “Happy Birthday!” on your timeline when you were so kind to post on mine.

I NEVER play games. I used to play Words with Friends with my husband, but he quit playing after I slaughtered him three times in a row. Bad sport!

When I text, it’s because I have something important to quickly tell someone. Except when I’m sending a picture that I just know a family member would love to see!

I do not Snapchat, WeChat, Instagram, Pin, Whisper, Tinder or Vine with anyone.

But back to my mother.

I took a trip with her to Portugal this summer. Her treat. Before we left, I was obsessed with finding out whether our hotels and river boat cruise would have W-Fi. I refuse to pay for an international cell phone plan when I know I can do everything I want if I just have free Wi-Fi.

They did and I was as happy as a clam because I could stay connected with my life back home. In the mornings and evenings when we weren’t out sightseeing I’d email, text, listen to voicemails, make calls and look up stuff online – all for free. Except for paying 2.3 cents per minute when I had to call another phone back in the States. That’s basically free to me.

That’s why she thinks I’m addicted. But she certainly reaped the benefits when she was able to talk to her grandchildren!

Using an iPhone for all of this in Europe isn’t hard. It’s just those pesky settings and knowing which apps are best for the way you want to connect.

Here’s what I did.

First, I just wrote down everything I needed to do to prepare for using my iPhone in Europe:

  • Which settings did I need to change on my iPhone before I arrived in Europe to avoid cell phone charges.
  • How to set up my iPhone for free access to my Voicemail.
  • How to set up my iPhone for free texting.
  • How to call any phone, worldwide, for free or nearly free.
  • How to save and use maps for sightseeing.
  • How to return my iPhone to its pre-trip settings.

That led to writing an ebook about my little system which led to developing an online course to teach other travel-lovers how to use their iPhones in Europe for free (or nearly free).

Which leads to why I’m even writing all of this. My new online course “How to Use Your iPhone for Free (or nearly Free) is now live and I’d like to offer it to you, my readers, for free through this Thanksgiving weekend.

It’s on the e-learning site called Udemy and all you have to do is click on this link to register and get my course for free:

https://www.udemy.com/how-to-use-your-iphone-for-free-or-nearly-free-in-europe/?couponCode=FREEINVITE

If you have to re-enter the code it’s FREEINVITE.

Even if you don’t have an upcoming trip but think you might one day soon, go ahead and claim the free course. It comes with lifetime access.

Need more info? Here’s the promo video I created for the course:

And finally, I want you to know how grateful I am for you. For reading my articles or visiting my website.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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ios 8: The Disappointments

ios_8_logo sadIn my last article, I described some of my favorite improvements to the iPhone’s new operating system called iOS 8. This week I’ll share some of the features that disappointed me and begin an explanation of the new iCloud Drive.

Siri

When I first heard that iOS 8 would let me voice-activate Siri with a simple “Hey, Siri…” I was super excited. I use Siri a lot for dictating text messages, placing phone calls, finding phone numbers and directions. Rather than holding down the Home button to activate Siri, I could just see myself telling my phone on my desk or car console what I wanted it to do.

Alas, it’s not to be. “Hey, Siri” will only work if your iPhone is plugged into a power source. I’m a plug-my-phone-in-when-I-go-to-bed kind of person. I certainly don’t plug and unplug it as I go about my day. Until Apple fixes this restriction, “Hey, Siri…” will only be useful in the car for people who plug their phone into a car charger each time.

Health app

Another much anticipated feature was the new Health app. Theoretically, it can monitor your health and physical activity, share that information with other apps or even a health care provider, and provide emergency contact and medical information in case you are incapacitated.

It’s a great idea but requires a lot of manual user input for things like nutrition and calories and multiple apps or equipment for “automatically” measuring activity, fitness, sleep and vitals. It’s too complicated for most people to get all of that working properly together. If the upcoming AppleWatch is able to do most of the physical monitoring and Apple makes it seamless to connect that information with the Health app, then it will become incredibly useful.

iCloud Drive

Are iCloud and the new iCloud Drive the same thing? No, and yes. iCloud is the storage service Apple has been providing for iPhone/iPad backups and certain types of documents. While most people have tried to stay within the iCloud’s free 5 GB of memory, more storage could be purchased at an expensive price. (As a reminder, Apple’s Photo Stream, iTunes purchases and any shared photo albums don’t count against that free storage.)

Apple’s new iCloud Drive is a service that has been added to iCloud. What’s different about it is that you can now store any type of document or image in iCloud Drive and access it from any device as long as that device has the correct application to open it. Once you need more than your original free 5GB of iCloud space, you can pay a monthly subscription for more. It’s very similar to Dropbox but a bit more expensive. If you like Dropbox, I’d stick with that service for now.

As with so many new technology products, just wait a bit. I believe you will see these “features” improved and perfected in the coming months.

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ios_8_logoNow that iOS 8 is officially “out” and I’ve had some time to use it’s new features, I’d like to share some of my favorites as well as my disappointments in this two-part series.

As with all major Apple upgrades, there are a slew of new features with iOS 8, many of which I am still discovering. Let’s start with my picks.

QuickType

QuickType politely anticipates and suggests words to speed up your typing when composing a text message, email or note.

It’s a welcome improvement over the annoying auto correction that constantly pops up and requires you to touch the little ‘x’ to prevent your iPhone from entering a completely-wrong-but-properly-spelled-word. Unless you like the old auto-correction, I recommend the following changes:

  • Touch Settings>General>Keyboards.
  • Turn OFF Auto-Correction.
  • Turn ON Predictive (which is QuickType).

Favorites and Recent Contacts

Faster access to Favorites and recent contacts by double-pressing the Home button. Previously, you had to touch the Phone icon and then Favorites or Recents to access those contacts. Now they are displayed across the top of your screen whenever you press the Home button twice.

Quick Response

Quickly reply to new text message alerts without leaving your current app. When a new message notification pops up on your screen, simply swipe down on the new message and the text box for replying will open.

Family Sharing

Family Sharing of your iTunes, iBooks and App purchases with up to six family members.

Finally, spouses and children with different Apple ID’s can share each other’s previous purchases and only pay once for future purchases. Parents can require that purchases made by their children under 18 must be given permission, electronically of course!

Here are some good instructions for setting up Family Sharing.

Family Sharing isn’t for everyone. I thought I might set it up to share apps and music with our adult children but found out that all future purchases within a Family Sharing group have to be made on the controlling family member’s credit card. Sorry, kids, I’m not falling for that!

Text Messaging Improvements

The Messages app has a couple of new features that I really like. You can now create and name a group of contacts that you regularly text, which is a real time-saver. In addition, you can send a recorded voice memo which is great for those longer messages that no one likes to type or read. Finally, you can send multiple photos at once from your Photos library.

To create a contacts group:

  • You must have a text message that you have already sent to this group of people. You can either select an old message you previously sent them or send a new message.
  • From the Messages app, touch the message that you sent to the group.
  • Touch Details in the top right.
  • Swipe the screen down to reveal Group Name at the top.
  • Enter a Group Name.
  • Touch Add Contact to add more contacts to this group.
  • Touch Done.
  • Touch Group and then Messages in the top left.
  • Now whenever you compose a new message to this group, simply type the group name you gave it.
  • ***If you delete this group’s thread (conversation) of messages, you will delete the group name, so don’t delete it!

How to text a voice recording:

  • When you are composing your message in Messages, touch and hold the microphone beside the text box and begin speaking immediately.
  • When you are finished, lift your finger off the microphone.
  • To replay your message before sending it, touch the play arrow.
  • To delete your recorded message, touch the ‘X’.
  • To send your recorded message, touch the ↑.

How to send multiple photos in a text message:

  • When you are composing your message in Messages, tap the camera beside the text box.
  • Recent photos will appear just above “Photo Library.”
  • Scroll from right to left and touch each photo to select.
  • Touch Add Comment to add a message and then Send.
  • ***If the photos you want to send are not in your displayed recent photos, touch Photo Library. You will have to choose each photo individually, but you can still send multiple pictures in one message.

Battery Usage

For those of you who have tried to make changes in your iPhone’s settings to turn off apps that drain your battery, you will love the Battery Usage screen that shows you which apps are sapping your energy.

When I checked mine, I was surprised to see that Skype had used 10% of my power in the past twenty-four hours. This was with it being turned off in Background App Refresh. Since I only use Skype on my iPhone for international phone calls, I signed out of my account on the Skype app and that fixed my battery usage. I’ll sign back in the next time I am making an international phone call.

To check your battery usage:

  • Touch Settings>General>Usage>Battery Usage.
  • Scroll down to see which apps are using the most power. You can select Last 24 Hours or Last 7 Days.

Next week, I’ll finish with the iOS 8 features that need some help and an explanation of the new iCloud Drive.

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