Posts Tagged ‘technology’

365great Day 130: Square

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365great challenge day 130: squareA long time ago, I came across this cool gadget and became obsessed. It’s such a fun concept! For years I’d been dreaming of a solution that would allow businesses to email receipts and not have to print out those annoying paper ones. In fact, I was hoping for an entire system that would send the receipt automatically to the credit or debit card you used so when you check your statements, the corresponding receipt would be there for you to review. That way you’d be able to match up those charges much easier! Square doesn’t quite accomplish that, but it got so much further than I thought anything could at that time. Since then, a bunch of copycats have surfaced and it’s more and more common to see digitized transactions occur. I love the change and I look forward to my vision becoming a reality soon! So thank you Square, for bringing to life what I had only dreamed. That’s truly great.

365great Day 117: Flickr

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365great challenge day 117: flickrAwhile back, I began to compare photo sharing and storing options because I didn’t want my hard drive to be my only backup. I wanted a place where I could easily store the gigs upon gigs of photos and videos that I’ve taken over the years (for free). This way, I can also access it from anywhere in the future, so I don’t have to lug around the hard drive whenever I want to gain access to old pictures. Since I wanted to be able to use old photos as if they were on my computer already, I needed a site that would let me store and download the images at full resolution. In Flickr I found the perfect solution. They offer a great interface, full resolution downloads, and 1 terabyte of storage! They also have a social component that might be a nice bonus feature to use. How can you go wrong with free online storage of your media? I’ve been uploading hundreds of pictures and I’m still at less than 1% of my limit. That’s unbelievably great.

365great Day 114: electric toothbrushes

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Oh, how technology makes our lives eas365great challenge day 114: electric toothbrusheser. With less effort, we can actually get our teeth cleaner than if we manually scrubbed those pearly whites ourselves. Battery-powered toothbrushes offer the extra boost in power that humans wouldn’t be able to pull off on our own, which can more effectively shake loose anything hiding between your teeth or gums and even rub off plaque buildup. Oftentimes, you don’t even have to move your brush back and forth anymore! A simple steady hand holding the bristles on your teeth, a press of a button to activate the vibrating motion, and the electric toothbrush takes care of the rest. Truly, a savior for all weak wrists and arms everywhere. So here’s to making oral hygiene easier than ever! Isn’t that great?

365great Day 105: Skype

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365great skypeSkype has really enabled me to maintain long distance relationships in ways that never could have been possible without it. Between my parents and my boyfriend (now fiance), my closest relationships are really enhanced by having Skype. I use it to connect with them for free and share things visually as relevant. When I was working in Singapore, it was an important way for Panda and I to stay in touch beyond just emails and phone calls. Even when I was on the west coast and he was on the east coast, we’d Skype for hours on end, usually going about our business but having the comfort of knowing that we could share and connect at a moment’s notice. With my parents, it has allowed us to communicate with ease since typing in English or Chinese just feels unnatural. Skype even allowed me to do interviews while abroad, which was super helpful! That’s totally great.

How to: Set Your iPhone/iPad to Stop Playing Music

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In case you’re not familiar with certain functions of the Apple mobile devices, you can actually set it to stop playing audio (including music, podcasts, audio books, etc.) after a designated period. For example, if you’re listening to Pandora at night and want to keep it on until you fall asleep, you can ensure it stops playing after 30 minutes by setting a timer in the Clock app.

collage of screens used to set iphone timer to stop playing audio

1. In Clock app, select Timer

2. Tap on “When Timer Ends” (see left side of image) and scroll to very bottom

3. Choose the last option: Stop Playing (see right side of image)

4. Set to Stop Playing and select how many minutes/hours you want the audio to stop (you can choose anything from 1 minute to 23 hours 59 minutes, in one-minute increments)

5. Select Start and the timer will begin. You can cancel or pause at any time. When the timer reaches 00:00, your audio will stop playing!

This works in pretty much any scenario where you have audio playing, ranging from listening to an audio book within a separate app, listening to music on Pandora/iHeartRadio or from your device’s stored music, or even when you’re streaming a podcast. Try it out the next time you want to fall asleep listening to something!

In the mail: kitty toys, free stuff, and the SunVoxBox

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In addition to the subscription boxes and trades I already mentioned receiving, here’s what’s been filling up my mailbox!

powerbank backup battery in boxI did a review of this external battery and charging accessories I got from nomorerack so you can read more there. When I first got this I was concerned whether it’d be some knock-off brand that is shoddy work that won’t last, but I’m happy to report that while the packaging is “meh” the item itself and its performance are great.

cat feeder and toy collageSince I was given an Amazon gift card as part of a focus group (mentioned in this post), I decided to splurge on my cats and get them these fun toys. One is a feeder where the cats need to paw around through the holes to push the food so it falls through the holes in each level until it is caught at the bottom. I’ve included a video below at the end of the post so you can see Missy at work! She really enjoyed it at first but I think both cats are lazy now and just wait for their daily wet food feeding to get them through the day. Maybe if they are desperate enough they will learn to use this properly. At least I know they aren’t overeating now, right?

The other item is a pretty standard track with ball that you can piece together in many configurations. Once again, this is something Missy has enjoyed and will play with, but Molly kind of just looks at it and walks away. Alas, Molly is like 14 and declawed, so it makes sense she wouldn’t want to play with this. At least Missy likes it!

sample of pad, l'oreal revitalift miracle blur, and pampers sensitive wipes
I got a couple of random samples that I had requested from various sites, including a sanitary pad, L’Oreal’s Revitalift Miracle Blur finishing cream, and Pampers sensitive wipes. I’m always on the lookout for free samples to help me find products that I want to adopt into my life! That’s probably why I love subscription boxes so much. 🙂

physicians formula bb powder and letterA long time ago, I entered to receive a free BB powder from Physician’s Formula. This was similar to the first contest I entered (which I wrote a tutorial about), but suddenly there were a lot more people contending. When I went to submit the form, it froze on me and I never got a success message, so I crossed my fingers hoping I was one of the lucky 1000, but I didn’t count on it. Then just a few days ago, what shows up in my mail but this?! I was pretty thrilled since I’m obsessed with trying BB creams and I’ve never seen a BB powder. Can’t wait to test it!

trade with skin, hair, and body products

I already wrote about my previous trades, so here’s just a quick look at the last trade I got. A bunch of lovely samples that I am looking forward to trying. I sent over some L’Occitane stuff and a set of Angry Birds lip balms that I had in exchange for these.

influenster sunkissed voxbox

And finally, my Influenster Sunkissed VoxBox, which I’m sure I will write about coming up. I am very happy with everything I got and I am so thrilled to try them out!

cat eating from food maze from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

 

Job history: college school years edition

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If you missed the first part of this series, you can go read about the jobs I had in high school.

I held various jobs throughout college, some during the school year and some during summer breaks. I considered breaking them down into exactly half and half, but the only way to do that is to highlight school jobs (where my employer was one of the departments at UCLA) and outside jobs, which were for a company not affiliated with UCLA. However, it makes more sense to split it by what I did during the school year vs. what I did during my summers, so that’s what I’m going with.

Reading texts for blind students

I started UCLA at the very end of September 2004. I’m pretty sure we’re the last college in the nation to start classes each year. By December, I was feeling pretty good about getting my groove with classes, so I looked around for a student job and found a position as a Reader for the Office of Students with Disabilities. Each week, I was given certain texts that I needed to read into my tape recorder. Every Friday, I turned in my tapes and they were passed on to the blind student who needed them for class. At first I read all kinds of poli sci-related stuff for a grad student. I met with him a few times to read in person as well, which was a lot easier for him.

Then the next student I had was a third year English student. She had some crazy Middle English texts to get through and I quickly learned how to read older versions of English that have some strange vocabulary. I also met with her once or twice and it was fascinating to watch her use a machine to play back tapes and jump to where she needed to be. Overall, I liked the flexibility of being able to record in the middle of the night (as long as I could find a quiet place where I wouldn’t disturb others). It was nice to know I was helping other students with their coursework too.

On-campus job in the computer labs

four people jumping on beach spelling out rlcc

RLCC training meant some fun bonding times.


My second year I got a lot more interested in student groups, so my social activities skyrocketed and I sidelined the job thing. Then my third year I studied abroad, so I couldn’t work (nor did I want to). While I was away, I found a fantastic opportunity to work with the Office of Residential Life (ORL) as a Resident Learning Center Consultant (aka RLCC – don’t worry, I’ll explain). I particularly liked the “resident” part of the job – it meant that I was guaranteed housing on campus; at that time, we were only guaranteed housing for the first two years and then it was pretty tough to stay on campus unless you had a job that required it. I was in no rush to get an apartment!

I came back from my year abroad to join the student leaders, resident assistants, and other staff of ORL to help provide a great experience living on campus. We had three computer labs in the student housing area, which were there so students wouldn’t have to trek to an academic building to get access to computers and printing. These were deemed Learning Centers since they were a hub for students to come study, learn, and otherwise continue their education. As Consultants, we were trained to help wherever we could – random questions, help with technical issues, etc.

Hence, Resident Learning Center Consultants meant that we lived on campus among the very students we served, we managed/proctored the Learning Centers, and we were more than just someone sitting there making sure you didn’t run off with a computer or jam the printer – we were actually there to help. I enjoyed my time with the team and being able to sit in a quiet environment so I could get work done too. I’m also pretty tech-savvy for a layman, so I was able to help quite a bit. In fact, all us tech-savvy RLCCs would put together fun workshops/events throughout the year, whether teaching students HTML or making ethernet cables together.

Campus representative for a smartpen

livescribe pulse smartpen booth at the los angeles times festival of books at ucla

The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen booth at the Festival of Books!


Towards the end of fall quarter of my 4th year, I learned about a company called Livescribe through my fraternity (Alpha Kappa Psi – we’re a co-ed business fraternity). They were looking for campus reps and even though they actually had one for UCLA already, I was ready to prove that they could use another. I had some great ideas to share and I guess it was enough to convince the marketing manager! We were flown up to Oakland, where they had their headquarters, and given a grand tour. It was great to meet reps from around the country and share our ideas for how to promote the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen. My biggest idea was participating in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which was still held at UCLA at that point. I also managed appearances at smaller events, where I would demonstrate the cool capabilities of the smartpen. I loved the ability to imagine and implement my own plans.

And that concludes the jobs I held while taking classes at UCLA! Next up will be the jobs and internships I had during the summers in between.

Powerbank backup battery & USB noodle chargers review

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I’ve been using these two sets of products for the past two weeks or so and I can finally go out for the day without a single worry about how long my phone might last and when (not even if) it will die on me. You see, whenever I went out and needed to use navigation, the camera, and some other apps, my iPhone battery would quickly drain. At best I’d get about 4 hours of use out of it. Certainly not enough for a full day out, where I’m trying to get places and take pictures/videos and maybe play some games too.

iphone charging accessories including purple car charger, wall plug, flat noodle cable, and powerbank backup batteryWhen Panda showed me a deal on this site called nomorerack*, I was intrigued. The site looked legit enough and the prices were excellent. I figured for about $30 it was worth the risk to order them to try out. I decided on the Powerbank 5600mAh Cell Phone Battery Backup Emergency Power Source to recharge my battery on the go and the 3-pack 8-pin to USB noodle cable set for iPhone 5 to connect to a car or building’s power source. This way I could charge up in the car while driving, but I could also have an external battery source when I couldn’t just plug in somewhere. It has freed up my phone usage so much and I can now wear out my phone however I please! I never have to worry whether my phone can last the day anymore.

Powerbank 5600mAh Cell Phone Battery Backup Emergency Power Source

The external battery was something I had been considering, so when Panda saw a deal for it, he sent me the link and I began to explore what nomorerack had to offer. At first I was looking at the 2600mAh models, which are about the size of a tube of lipstick. Upon doing some research, I found that 2600mAh is about enough to charge up my phone once over, but when you factor in some of the energy lost in conversion, I feared I’d only get a 75% charge out of it. Better than nothing, but not good enough. So, I opted for the 5600mAh one that could charge my phone twice over, or maybe a little bit less than that. At the least I was sure I could get one full charge out of it. The size is still very compact and really doesn’t make much difference to me compared to a lipstick-sized one.

So far I’ve been able to consistently get 1.5 charges from it, but I’m hoping that a few more uses will help maximize the performance to just about two charges. Even if it doesn’t improve, I am very happy with having that extra charge because it actually extends the time my phone can be used beyond just twice as long. So let’s say I’m out all day and my phone dies after 3 hours of use. Usually, that would have been it for me, unless I could tether myself to a wall outlet for an hour. Well now I can use my Powerbank to charge back up over the course of an hour and a half or so, during which I can be using my phone. Then it can last me another 3-4 hours, totaling 7.5-8.5 hours! At that point, if I’m still out, I can charge it for another 30-45 minutes and use it for maybe one more hour after that. That’s a good 9-10 hours compared to the 3-4 I was getting before. Awesome!

3-pack 8-pin to USB noodle cable set for iPhone 5

Then there’s the 3-piece set of charging accessories I have. I had gotten a very cheap car charger before, only to find that it got rejected by my iPhone. I was afraid that might happen with this one as well, but so far so good. That means that whenever I’m in a car I definitely have a power source to charge up my phone. Also, I absolutely love the flat noodle cable. My original cable was getting kind of beat up and this different design looked like it might be more effective against the bending pressures put upon it when plugged in. I love how it rolls up a lot easier than the round cables and is less likely to tangle. What a great design! And finally, I have an extra USB plug charger head to use for charging my phone and the Powerbank. To top it all off, I got this set in my favorite color!

As you can tell, I am very pleased with both these purchases. If you struggle with the battery power your portable devices, I’d definitely recommend getting either or both of these sets of accessories. It frees you up to spend the entire day out and about as you please! On a similar note, nomorerack offers a ton of awesome products and I would definitely recommend buying from them if you’re in the market! Excellent quality and performance on the products at highly discounted prices. In fact, nomorerack will be making an appearance later as the 365great of the day. 🙂

 

*referral link – if you’re interested in signing up, send me your email and you can get a $10 credit to use (I believe the order minimum is $30)

365great Day 91: Cloud Magic

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365great challenge day 91: cloud magicCloud Magic is a wonderful little app that I found a few months ago. It’s basically like a global search of your digital footprint, which means that one search term brings up results across your email, social media, calendars, contacts, and online storage accounts. What a convenient way to find something when you can’t remember where the information might be stored. Or, in my case, I love using it to see if I got any emails with “congrats” or “congratulations” so I can make sure I know when I’ve won something. I use different emails depending on what type of site I’m entering a giveaway on and sometimes those accounts have filters so it’d be tedious to go through each to see if I got a relevant message. One search in Cloud Magic and *boom* it’s all right there for me to browse. You can even reply to emails right in the app! Of course, there are plenty of other ways to use it as well and you should totally give it a try! It’s so handy and absolutely great.

365great Day 75: screen cleaners

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365great challenge day 75: screen cleanersI just had to highlight these fun little things after getting some at the Gogobot West LA event tonight. They’re sticky little patches that you can adhere to any non-porous surface (like the back of your smartphone), then peel off whenever your screens need some cleaning! Aren’t they just adorable?! What a great way to not only add some flair to your device, but also have a cleaning cloth with you at all times. Never fear those grease marks or fingerprints again! These are great not just for smartphones, but cameras, glasses (and sunglasses), and really any glass or plastic surface that you may want to keep sparkling. When they get dirty, you can just wash with a little soap and water, let it dry, and you’re good as new! That’s pretty great.

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