Science and Technology
Are you a Gmail user? Did you wake up a week or two ago to find that your new messages were now being automatically organized by Gmail into tabs of different, pre-determined categories? And, did you think, like me, that they were really ugly, stupid, and unnecessary? Here’s a quick tip on how to rid yourself of them!
Here's how Gmail looks now with its category tabs:
The iPhone’s simplicity is one of the key reasons it has been such a success. Pick it up and use it, no muss, no fuss. Sadly, that simplicity comes at the expense of customizability. Aside from changing your wallpaper and creating folders, the iPhone doesn’t really offer much in the way of “pimpin’ it out.” Android to the rescue! If there’s one way that Android shines over iPhone, it’s that you can make it look pretty much however you’d like, thanks to its open platform nature. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using different launchers. A launcher is the “desktop” user interface of your Android phone. Changing and customizing launchers can help you be more productive and provide an aesthetic better suited to your tastes. The following are my favorite launchers.
It's time to break out the pans of soapy water for a wet and wonderful outside Bubble Party. You can buy bubble solution, but it's cheaper to make your own. Take a cup of water, 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup, 4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid, and mix them together gently. Do not mix it so much that it foams.
Pour it into a shallow pan, or seal it tightly to use later. You can either use store-bought bubble wands, or you can twist wire or pipe cleaners into shapes to catch the film. Make sure you keep your hands nice and wet to keep the bubbles from popping, and don't let the little ones drink the bubble mix.
A few months back I wrote a blog post, The Best Cross-Platform Mobile Games, detailing the best of mobile games for both Android smartphones and tablets as well as the iPhone and iPad. In that post I noted that there are many excellent games that are, for the most part, exclusive to the iPhone and iPad. It was the iPhone, after all, that demonstrated just how much potential mobile games have and practically every mobile game studio publishes first to Apple devices before even considering Android, if they ever make it to Android at all. These are, in my book, among the best such mobile games.
As handy as our mobile phones and tablets are, there are times when they fall short and we wish we had our desktop or laptop computers in front of us. With this free software and the power of the Internet, you can access your home Windows PC or Mac from your iPhone/iPad or Android mobile device wherever you are.
Beyond my typical day-to-day programs like Google Chrome, Microsoft Word, maybe a game here and there, I have a selection of utilities that help me perform behind-the-scenes tasks and maintain my computer’s health. I have found each of the following to invaluable. Many of them offer paid versions with extra customer support options and a few extra bells and whistles, but you will find that the free versions offer everything you need, so be sure to get those.
I can’t believe I haven’t written about this sooner. Though consumers are buying tablet computers in greater numbers than classic computers, that hasn’t removed the necessity for a laptop or desktop computer. Sooner or later these need to be replaced and that will now mean buying a PC that ispreloaded with Windows 8. And I can say without hesitation, folks despise Windows 8. I might be able to help with that.
In the past I have lambasted Barnes and Noble's Nook products for a number of reasons, but none of them have to do with device itself. I dislike how eBooks purchased from B&N are encrypted with the credit card number used to purchase them (don't forget that number!). I dislike how stripped-down the app selection is. I dislike their severe lack of media offerings. But the device itself? It's got good specs! Nice HD screen, decent processor speed, expandable storage, slick design—it's got all the makings of a great tablet, save for the fact that it has been tethered exclusively to Barnes and Noble's horrible business practices. But that has now changed with a significant price drop and the addition of the Google Play app store. If you're on the fence about a tablet purchase, I now have to actually, grudgingly recommend the Nook HD over everything else!
Microsoft Office maybe the go-to suite for businessy type things, but goodness gracious, it is expensive! And copy-protected! A single-PC license for the most stripped-down version of Office, the Home & Student edition which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, runs $139.99. That’s for ONE PC and lord help you if you need to reinstall it at any point - you’ll likely end up on the line with Microsoft tech support trying to re-activate your legitimately-purchased software. You’ve also got the option of paying $400 (or as I like to call it, my grocery budget) for the full Office experience with all its bells and whistles . . . again, for one PC. Please. Have some free software, on me!
From 2000-2003 I was a creative writing major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a university most well-known for its schools of engineering and computer science. Guess I could have thought that decision through a little better, but I’m glad I didn’t. I even lived in a private dorm adjacent to the engineering campus, Hendrick House, surrounded by some of the strangest, most intelligent and most wonderful people I’ve ever known, almost all of them engineers. When I arrived at UIUC, I knew the bare bones of computering—how to type, how to use a Web browser, how to use a word processor, and play a few games, but not much else. However, over the course of three years living with these technological elite, I picked up more than a few tricks not only about using computers, but about how to fearlessly teach myself more. And now I pass that on to you.
Attaining fearlessness in the face of learning more about the computer lies in the art of reversibility. The most common fear my students express is that they will press the wrong keys or click the wrong thingies and destroy their computers. I try to assure them this is highly unlikely, but that discomfort still remains. Certainly I felt that way 10 years ago. I discovered over time that there are particular steps you need to take to ensure that, if the worst happens and your computer stops working, you can back out of your mistake or recover your computer. With the following steps accomplished, you’ll find that you feel much less hesitant about stepping outside your comfort zone.