Thursday, June 21, 2012

Use the Shopkick App to Earn Gift Cards and Discounts

A friend introduced me to Shopkick a few months back. It's an app that allows you to collect kicks (like points) to use toward gift cards to stores like Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Macy's, Lowe's, Chili's and iTunes. At the same time, you can find discounts for stores that are nearby. I didn't use Shopkick at first because I was confused about how it works, so here's the skinny...

There are several ways that you can collect kicks:

1. Collect instant surprises while you are riding in the car or sitting on the couch everyday. (These are marked with a green star.)
2. Collect kicks for walking in a store.
3. Collect kicks for buying certain items or for spending a certain amount of money at the store.
4. Collect kicks for scanning items in the store.


Watch the banner at the top of the Nearby tab for special events.

Don't use Shopkick while you drive! Only if you are the copilot, collect kicks while you're on your regular route around town. If one of your children loves using your phone, teach them how to use Shopkick and enlist them to collect kicks for you while you drive.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Join Shopkick today!  (affiliate link)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Year's Resolution to Clean Out my Email Inbox

One of my new year's resolutions for 2012 is to maintain a clean email inbox. I receive A LOT of email on a daily basis in three different email accounts, so I'm currently working on improving my email habits in two of the three accounts and plan to move to the third one after I have mastered the first two.

I found a program that I finished six weeks ago called Revive Your Inbox, and I love it!  It helped me to develop good habits of email management, and I'm proud to say that I'm doing really well at keeping my inbox clean. 
Six weeks later, my work inbox stays at 15 messages or less, and my personal inbox stays at 25 messages or less. (To give you some perspective: I used to keep around 300-400 messages in each inbox at any given time.) I feel like I am more productive at work, and I'm making more deadlines. I don't miss important messages because I'm on top of my email! 

If you have email trouble, you should really give it a try.  If you aren't willing to commit a few weeks to ridding yourself of those bad habits and just want a quick fix, try the Email Game! (Right now it only works with Gmail and Google Apps, but I think more services are coming.) It's created by the same company and makes it fun to get rid of emails in a hurry.

Let me know what you think!

Note: The Revive Your Inbox/Email Game people do not know me. I just think their stuff is cool.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Year's Resolution to Read More

A few years ago, I made a long-term goal (it's on my bucket list) to read 52 books in a year. I don't expect to achieve that goal anytime soon with my current busy schedule, but I am enjoying keeping track of the books that I read and watching for upward trends year to year. In 2010, I read 1 book. In 2011, I read 4 books. My resolution/goal is to read 12 books in 2012.

I use Evernote to keep almost all of the lists in my life, so it fits well to include the list of books that I've read there too.  I make a note for each year and call it Reading List 2012. In the note, I have a list of books I have already read that year, books I'm currently reading (this part encourages me to finish books to get them off the list), and books I'd like to read next. The Upcoming list helps me when I go to the library or search online for e-books to read. My list looks something like this and lives in Evernote so that I can access it on any of my devices. You could also use the Notes app on your phone or keep it in your journal.
* The Help

--In Progress--
* The Element by Ken Robinson
* The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm     
* The Hunger Games (for book club)
* Blue Like Jazz 
I also write notes about the books so that I'll remember something I learned or enjoyed in the book. I've found that my notes have been helpful in recommending books to friends. Make a commitment to read more this year, and you'll be glad you did!

How many books are you planning to read this year?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

iPhone and iPad App: Bible

One of my favorite apps on my iPhone and iPad is the Bible. I love its simple, clean design for reading that still contains all of the features that I want behind the scenes.

Features in the Bible app
  • Change background color to black or white. This is particularly helpful when I am in church and want to minimize the amount of light shining from my phone.
  • Share verses with others. I haven't used this feature much, but I do like that it's there.
  • Read different translations and in different languages. Fluency in the Spanish language is a lifelong goal for me, so I love that it only takes a couple taps to switch between English and Spanish versions of the Bible as I am reading.  (Check here for a list of versions that are currently available.)
  • Reading plans. YouVersion, the maker of the app, has several different Bible reading plans that range from a few days of reading to the whole Bible. This is my new favorite feature in the app. Each evening as I am winding down, I read from one of the reading plans that I have chosen. Right now, it's one on generosity. If I fall behind, the app even has a feature to "catch myself up."
  • Download versions. Some versions are available for download through the app. This means that you can access the entire text without an Internet connection. (That's especially important if you're on an iPad without a data plan.) Those versions are marked with a green icon.
  • Audio versions. Some versions also have audio available. The version is marked with a speaker icon and works just as you might expect. 
For the iPhone...



For the iPad...

Thanks to YouVersion for providing an invaluable app for free! Find the app in iTunes, in the App Store, or look here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Practice Yoga at Home for Free

Being a high school teacher is a high-stress job. I haven't found any way around it. It's worth all of the stress when you love teaching those goofballs. Because of all of the stress, I've developed some mean knots in my upper back and between my shoulder blades. Massages have somewhat helped me in the past, but I don't have the money for them now.

At the advice of a couple friends in the medical profession, I decided to try yoga. Since I'm watching my finances, I decided to search for a low cost, quick yoga option that I could do from home. Imagine my surprise when I found FREE YOGA online!

I found a great site called YogaDownload that has both free and paid yoga classes in varying lengths and difficulties. Since I'm relatively inexperienced in yoga, I looked for the courses that were beginner level, and because I don't like yoga enough to do it for a whole hour, I also looked for classes that were 30 minutes or less. I found several classes that fit my criteria!

YogaDownload has a variety of audio and video classes and offers pose guides (PDFs that contain pictures of each pose in the order of the class) that are especially helpful for beginners.

At the time of this posting, the listed yoga courses are free on YogaDownload.  I downloaded them to my laptop and made sure to back them up using Dropbox in case my laptop ever dies a sudden death.

Now, I'm practicing yoga at home about 1-2 times per week, but my goal is to practice 3-4 times per week. Even with one 20-minute class per week, I already feel a huge difference in the tightness in my back. Bonus points for better flexibility and posture.

If you find that you love YogaDownload and can't live without it, I suggest spending a few bucks and buying a few of their more specialized paid classes (most around $1-5) to keep them in business!

Do you have other sites for finding free yoga online?  I'd love to vary the courses I take.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Most Watched Videos on YouTube

If you love staying up to date on what's hot on YouTube RIGHT NOW, check out this site -- YouTube Trends -- to find out what's viral.

Now you will be the first of your friends to watch and share all of the best YouTube videos!

Also, check out the Trends Dashboard to really dive into what's happening on YouTube. Would you like to know what 18-24 year-old females are watching right now on YouTube? You got it!

Or, you can compare what the nation is watching with what people in specific cities are watching. It looks like Rebecca Black is definitely what's hot today!

Check out YouTube Trends and the Trends Dashboard today!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Find out who is calling with 800 Notes.

If a number comes through on my cell phone that I don't know, I do not answer it! Instead, I grab the number (memorize it, write it down, copy/paste) and type it into 800 Notes immediately.

Sometimes, if I'm really on the ball, I even get the results before the call finishes ringing, and I can answer the call if it's someone I actually want to talk the car dealership or my credit card company.

Make sure to read through several of the comments to get a good feel for the company that is calling. The first comment listed isn't always 100% correct. I usually go with the majority of responders.

If the cell phone companies would join the 21st century and introduce caller ID, the problem would be moot, but until then, I use 800 Notes. If you know of similar sites or a better way to check numbers as they come in on your cell phone, please post them in the comments.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Angry Birds on Your Computer

Since March Madness is over, we all needed another reason to have a drastic drop in productivity at work.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to use Clone Stamp to remove people and things from pictures using Adobe Photoshop CS5

In the last several months, I have starting creating video tutorials to help my friends, family and my students with various topics. Some of the videos are fairly complicated, and others are more simple and straightforward.

I have recently learned how to use Photoshop, so I have started creating videos on how to do simple tasks in Photoshop. The following video is one that I created to help my students (and friends learning how to use the program) and as a part of a video challenge on another blog.

I hope that you enjoy the video. If you have any suggestions for future videos for me to create or if you have suggestions for me to improve my tutorials, please leave a comment!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Android App: Locale

Recently I heard from a friend about a location-based app for your Android phone that performs actions based on conditions that you choose. The app is called Locale. I'm an iPhone user, so I can't use this app. And from what I have heard, the iPhone doesn't even have the capability to support an app like this. Wait until you hear what this thing can do! This one app is enough to make me seriously consider switching to Android. One little app!

Let's start with a few scenarios to explain.

Scenario 1: You and your significant other like to go to the movies on the weekends. Locale has you covered. You can program the app to set your phone to silent and turn down the screen light when you enter the theater.

Scenario 2: You're at the office. Locale has you covered there too. You can program the app to set your phone to vibrate and connect to the office's WiFi if you'd like.

Scenario 3: You don't want to be bothered while you are sleeping. Locale has you covered. You can program the app to set to silent from 11:00 pm to 6:00 am, except if it's your mom calling. Now that's smart!

Locale doesn't need babysitting. You set the conditions based on your schedule and your needs then forget all about it. Your phone works for you, and you are never embarrassed again when Lady Gaga ringtone starts singing from your pocket in church!

The one downside for Locale is the price: $9.99.  I don't like paying for apps, but for what I know about this one, I would be 100% willing to pay ten bucks for it!

If you already use Locale, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on the app. Is it worth the money? Does its features work as well as they sound in theory?