Posts Tagged ‘technology’

October Favorites 2013

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
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collage of october 2013 favorites including free food, neal's yard remedies, geek squad, haircut, nike sneakers, condo walkthrough, heated car seats, cooking, and paper facial masks

1. free food – This month brought some wonderful opportunities for free food from Whole Foods (community event during the furlough) and Carrabbas (First Tastes event). It’s been awhile since Panda and I have gone out to get free food so it was nice to experience again. Back in college we’d get free Sprinkles cupcakes all the time and occasional other deals that various establishments were offering.

2. NYR Organics – It was a pleasant surprise to come across NYR Organics, the US version of Neal’s Yard Remedies. I’ve been enjoying the simple pleasure of misting my face with their products. The sales rep was even kind enough to send me an empty spray bottle so I could use it for the witch hazel water I had without a spray top. She totally understood that it’s much better when you can apply it that way. I love how mild and gentle these products are, which makes them oh so soothing.

3. Geek Squad – An all too-familiar scene. I think I visited Geek Squad a dozen times in the period of 3 weeks as I tried to get exactly what I wanted. I did exchanges and returns and hardware swaps and software changes with them. All throughout, they remained helpful and patient until I was finally able to get the laptop I’d been seeking, complete with SSD, touchscreen, backlit keyboard, and so much more. While I’m glad they were able to help me through it all, I sure do hope I don’t need to go see them again.

4. haircut – My hair had started to get mousy and I was growing bored of plain black so I decided to go searching for a hairdresser. I had a girl out in Manhattan Beach who I liked to go to, but that’s not very practical anymore. Luckily, the one I decided to try had a sweet lady who was sociable but not too chatty and did a great job. I plan on sticking with her so long as it doesn’t become an inconvenience once we move a bit further from that salon’s location. I’m not super picky with my hair, but it’s nice knowing what to expect. Now my hair is lighter and feels much smoother than before!

5. Nike sneakers – I’ve been wearing these to work almost every day and I love it! All I wanted was super comfy shoes with amazing support and that’s exactly what I found. It’s a nice bonus that I happen to have them in my alma mater’s colors, making them all the more beautiful. I went with Nike because a good friend from college works for them and I love supporting my friends, even if it’s something small. I seriously can’t get enough of those memory foam cushions soothing my feet like never before.

6. condo walkthrough – I really enjoy watching things in progress, so I’ve been keeping an eye on our condo. We were there when it was just a plot of land and now we’re already at the walkthrough stage! I appreciate the pre-drywall walkthrough that we got so we could see the interior of our future home before it fully takes shape. I feel a lot more involved in the process being able to see it at this point and I can’t wait to go through it again when the interior is all pretty (one more month!).

7. heated car seats – I don’t know what I’d be doing without my heated car seat and steering wheel. Every day I’m so glad I was able to get a car with those features because they have made my commute more than comfortable. The heated seat came in especially useful when I hurt my back and needed that sort of warmth to help ease the tension. I’m totally addicted to that feature now and I don’t think I could ever get another car without at least heated seats. Life is so much better when you aren’t freezing.

8. cooking – Between Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, Panda and I are getting a fair share of cooking experience! I love having a box to cook through once a month or so. It’s an activity for us to look forward to doing together and there’s a tasty reward at the end. Plus, we’re building useful skills for the future! Of course, I’m also getting spoiled by it and now I don’t want to have to go grocery shopping or to figure out what to cook. 😛

9. paper facial masks – I’ve always enjoyed masks, but I usually don’t get around to using them because of the whole routine. I inevitably get some in my hair and it takes quite some time to apply and wash them off. When I discovered paper masks where it was a serum formulation that you just let absorb into your skin, I found my holy grail. It’s much easier to get them on and then I can just peel them off whenever and not worry about washing my face. They’re also just more fun to me and I need to stock up on these!

So what are your favorites from October? Anything you found you were using/doing a lot?

365great Day 239: wireless

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , ,
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365great challenge day 239: wirelessWireless might be the single greatest thing contributing to our mobility in this day and age. I rely on so many wireless devices to make my day go smoother – laptops, smartphone, wireless mice, and wireless routers to name a few. It’s what allowed me to leave work around 7 tonight and keep working through the night until now (3 am). I fiiinally finished what I wanted to at work today, which I’m thrilled about, and I’m even more pleased with the fact that I could do that from the comfort of home. After all, I don’t want to be pounding away at the office until this time. I’m so glad my work is the type that can go wherever my laptop is. I never had to work in a time when that wasn’t the case and I’m very grateful for that. The flexibility that wireless offers is pretty great.

Now GOOD NIGHT!! 🙂

365great Day 232: photo editing apps

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , ,
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365great challenge day 232: photo editing appsIt’s been months and months of my 365great series and it’s time I recognized the apps that make my little visuals possible. I’ve tried a bunch of photo editing apps that allow me to add text to my pictures and these are my favorites. Most recently I’ve been sticking with WordSwag because it’s so easy to create some really pretty font ones. I used to like InstaQuote for being able to easily change the color of some words. It really just depends on my mood which one I end up using! Whatever the case, these apps are so useful in making great buttons and other pinnable images.

365great Day 218: battery packs

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , ,
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365great day 218: battery packsThe battery life of the iPhone 5 can leave a heavy user with much to be desired. It certainly doesn’t last the whole day if you’re using it regularly to take photos/videos and go online like I do. When I got my first battery pack this summer, I was pretty happy. Now I could extend my phone’s usage by at least another one and a half times! Then my mom came back one day and handed me a box asking if I wanted it. Inside was the pretty blue one you see here. It was something the company gave everyone as a gift and she has no use for it. I couldn’t resist taking it too – I mean, it’s really pretty and has a nice curved shape that feels good, but more importantly it’ll actually charge my phone twice over. The more juice I can get out of these things the better. Now I never have to worry about my phone dying from a long day. That peace of mind is totally great.

New laptop time

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , ,
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I finally, finally pulled the trigger on my new laptop today. 🙂 I can’t believe I’ve been building up to this moment for two and a half years. It feels like five. Ever since pretty much day 1 of getting my current laptop, I’ve been annoyed by the loud noise it makes. I thought I could make do or make it better, but it never happened. So, thank goodness I can finally move on.

Awhile back, I decided I wanted an ASUS (and when I choose a brand, I pretty much always get the one I intended). My initial search this summer led me to crazy expensive ones because I convinced myself I should get one with a solid-state drive. After putting up with excessive noise for too long, all I want is quiet. As silent as possible. But after looking around and talking to various sales personnel, I decided to get a laptop with a normal hard drive and change it to SSD if I find the need to. Anything’s got to be better than my current situation though! This one has the main features I preferred: touchscreen, backlit keyboard, and 3 USB ports. The weight isn’t too bad, but I sure did hope for a super-light ultrabook.

Now excuse me while I go enjoy setting up my brand new ASUS!

collage of asus black laptop including box and packaging

It came with a microfiber cloth to wipe off fingerprints!

It came with a microfiber cloth to wipe off fingerprints!

black asus laptop open and turned on

Yay, my new toy!

iOS 7 review

laelene Posted in reviews,Tags: , , , , ,
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I’ve been running iOS 7 for about two weeks now and it’s been quite a change. Overall I really enjoy it, but there are definitely some issues that need to be worked out and new things to get adjusted to. Here are some of the highlights:

ios 7 geotargeted reminders feature with ability to change geofence radius

Geotargeting with the radius of your choice! Anywhere from 328 to 7.92 million feet, haha. I wished for this back when iOS 5 came out and now I have it!

ios 7 new ringtones list

New, more gentle and pleasant ringtones.

ios 7 new visual look and feel

Liking the new graphics – simpler, cleaner, brighter.

collage of ios 7 photo collections, new multitasking look, and safari tab browsing

New organization of photos into collections, more useful multitasking view with easy swipe to close, and better view of Safari tabs. All nice changes, but take some getting used to!

ios 7 new control panel feature

The Control Panel makes it easy to get to useful features. Finally, convenient access!

ios 7 weather app with sunset and sunrise indicators

I like knowing when sunrise and sunset are.

ios 7 block caller option

Being able to block callers will be helpful.

ios 7 text message times visible on right

If you pull to the left on the text messages, you can see the time of each, thank goodness.

ios 7 correct siri's pronunciation of words feature

It’s great to be able to correct Siri’s pronunciation.

ios 7 inclinometer feature

The compass now offers a hidden feature: inclinometer! Now you can figure out what perfectly balanced is.

And a few things that aren’t so great:

ios 7 new cleaner keyboard

For some reason the new keyboard is different enough to make my typing worse.

ios 7 multitasking feature

The apps keep having to reload when I move between them. I thought they were supposed to work in the background…

ios 7 lock screen with new keypad design

The screen fades too fast and I never tap it in time. Of course when I tried to get a screenshot of it fading I got the full brightness instead, but you get the point.

Have you updated to iOS 7? What do you think? Or what’s keeping you from making the change?

365great Day 201: PayPal

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , ,
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365great challenge day 201: paypalWhen it comes to transferring money between friends, collecting sales revenue, or even printing shipping labels at a discount, PayPal’s got you covered. I started off using it to occasionally buy things online so I wouldn’t have to share my credit card info. I then found it to be really handy when I wanted to move money to someone else (or even between my own bank accounts) at no charge. As I began to sell things online, it became the source for collecting payments. I don’t have to worry about charging credit cards or doing any currency conversions; it’s all part of their services. The fees they get out of it aren’t too bad especially considering the value they provide me. More recently I’ve found it’s the perfect way to take advantage of better USPS shipping rates without having to get an account with Stamps.com. I pay for and print my labels right within their interface! PayPal’s been great not only personally, but for my small side business too.

365great Day 198: Facebook debugger

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,
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365great challenge day 198: facebook debuggerOk, this is probably something most people have no need for nor care about, but for my purposes, I’ve found it to be a useful tool. Facebook’s debugger detects any errors that may be on a page, which makes it easy to see what might need fixing. This is really helpful when, say, a blogger wants to post a link to their blog post but the image isn’t being pulled correctly. A quick check on this site can pinpoint the issue (or at least eliminate other factors) without having to trudge through the code trying to figure it out. It’s simple and provides a service that really eases a pain for those of us who have to deal with it. Great way to enhance our operations and save time and hassle.

What I like about iOS 7

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , ,
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screenshot of apple iphone 5 showing new ios 7 operating system

Photo credit: Apple.com

I remember learning about iOS 7 a few weeks ago and really looking forward to it. I then kind of forgot about it until my coworker brought up the new iPhone 5C and we started talking about the upcoming changes. Now we’re nearly at the time when it will be released and I can’t wait! There are a lot of great improvements to the operating system and I know my iPhone-using experience is going to be a lot better. You can read more about new features on Apple’s site. Here are some of the highlights for me:

~new visual feel – The entire look and feel of the interface we tap around in on our iOS devices has changed. Things feel brighter, more colorful, more vibrant, and cleaner. I really appreciate their use of transparency to give things a modern and artistic feel. The current clunky toolbars taking up space to make our screens feel smaller have been reworked so that everything we do can take full advantage of the 4″ screens on our phones. It’s a better use of space that really enhances the user experience.

~Control Panel – Ok, so I think this is pretty cool but at the same time I kind of wonder why Apple didn’t already offer this. So in a way, I’m kind of like “about time!” when it comes to this feature. Still, it doesn’t make me want it any less and I’m sure I’ll make good use of it. Basically when you swipe up from the bottom, you get a control panel with function controls for the most common needs like turning on (or off) Airplane mode/wifi/bluetooth, locking your screen orientation, adjusting your screen brightness and speaker volume, and even launching things like flashlight, timer, calculator, or camera. This will save so many steps and offers a much easier way to change these settings quickly.

~swiping between camera modes – It’s a simple little thing, being able to switch between camera modes effortlessly. I love this feature because you can swipe left and right from camera to video or even panoramic. No more trying to tap one small corner of the screen to get video mode launched! They’ve also integrated other nice features to the camera, like photo filters and a pre-cropped square photo-taking mode for you Insta-crazies.

~photo organization – Since your device already knows the time and location of pictures you take, it makes sense that it can group photos based on that data and provide smart groupings of photos. It’s a nice way to organize your photos so you can find that you want easily instead of scrolling through all the photos in your album. They even offer a view of your entire year of photos, though that seems more like a pretty visual effect than a truly functional feature. Still, if you want to quickly browse photos trying to hunt something down, this could be helpful.

~multi-tasking management – Right now you can manage apps running in the background by double-tapping the home button and scrolling through app icons. It tells you little about what’s actually pulled up in each app and to close them, you have to tap and hold an app icon, then choose the little X in the corner. The new way to manage offers a preview of what’s running on each app AND a quick swipe up (and awaaaaay) will close that app. Much more efficient.

~Safari tab overview – If you want to switch between tabs on your Safari browser in iOS, you have to look at one at a time and swipe between them. The new way to view them lets you get a feel for multiple tabs’ content at once and you can also easily swipe away ones you want to close. I believe you can also swipe left or right when you have a tab open to move between tabs, but I’m not sure if I made that up.

~AirDrop – This is a nice way to share content with those who are physically near you. It’s kind of like the app Bump, which transfers files between devices when you “bump” them together. You basically bluetooth things over to other devices conveniently so you don’t have to write up and email or text message and attach files that way. It’s faster and the file is automatically stored in the appropriate place (like contacts in your contacts list or pictures in your photo app).

There are, of course, a ton of other features coming as well, like Siri’s search integration with Wikipedia and Twitter and iTunes Radio. I’ve just listed some of the top items that grabbed me and will make my iPhone experience a whole lot better. What are you most looking forward to in iOS 7?

365great Day 184: backup cameras

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Learn more about 365great here.

365great challenge day 184: backup camerasOne feature of my car that I find really useful is the backup camera. It’s hard to gauge how much room you have left when you’re in reverse trying to back out of somewhere. This is what makes parallel parking such a challenging task for many, since you want to fit into a small area but you don’t always know how close you are to the curb or the cars next to you. I’m going to get totally spoiled by this feature though I’ll still practice trying to see through the back of the car so I don’t get too rusty at doing it manually. I might even try backing up into spots! That’s really popular in some countries (like Singapore) but not as much in the US. I’m thinking about giving it a shot since my head-in parking has been rather crooked with this car so the opposite approach might work out well for me. Whatever I decide to do, I have my trusty backup camera to help me drive more accurately in reverse. So useful it’s great.

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