Tag Archives: tech hacks

Make life a little easier with these free apps.

iphonenotebook

Like many young adults just on the other side of various quarter-life crises, while balancing “big people jobs” with mundane grown-up responsibilities, sometimes I’m barely holding it together–organizationally speaking. Fake it ‘til you make it! Since so many people who appear to have it all together swear by their technological solutions, I decided to do a little digging and see if I couldn’t research my way into some make-life-easier apps. And because I ascribe to the gospel of “Ballin’ on a Budget”, I gave myself one rule…they had to be free. Here’s what I rounded up! Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments below.

For seeking so you shall find:

Job Search- Look for jobs based on job description and location with Indeed.com’s search application.

Repairpal- Assists you in locating auto repair shops in your area.

Last.fm- Find the latest artists and albums.

Gas Bag- Locates the cheapest gas prices.

For staying organized:

Sticky Notes- Write reminders on virtual post-it notes and stick them on a virtual bulletin board.

24me- This app will keep track of bank and Netflix accounts, track how many cell phone minutes you’ve used, and log frequent flyer miles.

Smart ToDo- Keeps track of due dates and a detailed “To Do” list.

Evernote-Jot down notes via text, audio or picture. Everything you in-put is searchable later.

For a fitness focus:

MapMyRun- Keeps track of all your runs, including: pace, distance, route, speed and charts your progress over time.

Restaurant Nutrition-Lets you know the healthiest choices when dining out.

For getting out of a jam:

iTranslate- Combines voice recognition, translation and output to achieve the dream of a Universal Translator.

Law Dojo- Know your rights.

For PARTY:

Drinks and Cocktails- Spin the wheel and get a new drink recipe every time.

Birthday Reminder- Keep track of all your friends’ special days…and know when to expect the next party.

Perfect Date-Helps you plan a romantic evening out with your lucky gal or guy.

For making discoveries in your town:

Fandango-Find out what is playing at the local movie theater and how much the ticket will set you back.

Songkick Concerts- Lets you know when your favorite band will be rolling through your town.

iRecycle-Trying to be environmentally conscious? This app will tell you where the local recycling center is.

Pizza Finder-Find the best slice in town!

For shopping ‘til you drop:

Closet+-Keep an organized closet by cataloguing your wardrobe with pictures and descriptions.

Book Bargain- Alerts you to the best deals on Amazon and other online book sellers.

For staying up to date on current events:

NYTimes- Get news for free from a trusted periodical.

NPRAddict- News with a bit more quirk, this app also lets you download great podcasts which are wonderful for roadtrips and passing time on the elliptical.

For life-long learning:

Word of the Day –Expand your vocabulary and your GRE score.

Art Lite-Learn all about the artists, significance and history behind your favorite works of art.

SparkNotes- Lets you access Spark Notes for all the literary classics. Be sure to read the actual text too!

(iPhone illustration via here.)

Advertisements

The Case for Chromebooks

A few months back, as I twisted my laptop’s charger round and round for ten minutes patiently waiting to hear the beep letting me know it was actually charging, propping a pillow under the cord JUST. SO., and trying to work as motionlessly as possible to not upset this careful balance –I succumbed to the idea that it might be time for a new lappy. Putting old lappy out to pasture was a stressful notion…mainly because I feel hopelessly clueless about all things technology and have a terrible time making decisions (especially when they involve spending money). I didn’t want to live lappy-less for weeks on end as I waited to make up my mind. I also never necessarily believe that more expensive is better…surely there was a better option than dropping a few G’s on a machine. Thankfully, I received some much needed tech advice. And because I think the words of wisdom I received could be valuable advice for all of my budget conscious readers, I asked Chet Breaux to share it with y’all, too! It’s great to have a tech guru on speed dial. ; ) Enjoy!

savemoneygochrome

Chet: I’m writing this post using a Chromebook. What’s a Chromebook? You may have seen them advertised recently and thought “that’s just a tiny laptop!” You would be correct, but not necessarily about the tiny part. Chromebooks are a new kind of computer that runs the Chrome operating system. If you’ve ever used Google’s Chrome browser, the setup of a Chromebook will look remarkably similar. So what’s the big deal? Why should you care?

First, Chromebooks are inexpensive. They aren’t “cheap” as many tech bloggers have been quick to claim. My machine, an Acer A7, set me back just under 200 dollars. It has an 11.6 inch screen (small, yes), an Intel processor with Haswell architecture (more on this later), and a 16 gigabyte internal hard drive (tiny right?). How can I get anything done on this thing? It’s actually easier than you might think.

Google launched this project because they know a thing or two about the internet, and, more specifically, how people use the internet. Their analysis of Chrome browser users indicated that people were spending a whopping 90% of their time on a computer in the browser. Suddenly, a machine built around a web browser makes much more sense.

Let’s go back to my Chromebook, which seems to have very limited specifications. First, the size. It’s small. Is it a problem? Not really. I have very large hands, but I’m still able to type normally. The small size also means light weight, clocking in at about 2 pounds. This machine is perfect to travel with (no more super heavy bag). The Intel processor is slow, but that’s not important. Most desktop processors, and even many laptop processors, are overkill for what most people actually need a computer to do. The processor in my machine can easily run high def video and keep up with quite a few open browser tabs. Oh, and the small internal storage? Google will automatically give you a huge amount of cloud storage for free for a couple of years (don’t worry, that storage doesn’t cost much after your trial expires, and you are essentially paying for cloud backup, which everyone should have). You’re also getting a solid state hard drive. That means instant wake from sleep and about 20 seconds to boot.

Should you consider getting a Chromebook as your next laptop? Absolutely! Unfortunately, a lot of people in the tech industry have taken to bashing these machines and comparing them to netbooks. Dan Ackerman recently reviewed a new Chromebook manufactured by Toshiba. He’s making a lot of the same complaints I see in other Chromebook reviews. Yes, you have to be connected to the Internet, but so what? I’m not sure who they are speaking to with comments like these. I work at a University and have a home Internet connection. I don’t work in the middle of a field. Yes, it’s made of plastic. So is every other laptop under 1000 dollars. Yes, it has limited on-board storage, but that’s kind of a moot point in the streaming age.

What can Chromebooks do for you? Just about whatever you need in a laptop. Google has a suite of services that can easily take the place of word, powerpoint, and excel (plus all of your work is safe in the cloud and can be accessed from any web browser on any computer!) It runs Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora….In short, I’m not seeing any limitations with my machine, just convenience.

Why do I care so much about Chromebooks? As an educator, I often see students that don’t have easy access to technology, and, I’m sorry- college students NEED a laptop. A 200 dollar Chromebook is a lot easier to afford than an overloaded, overpriced machine that Best Buy normally tries to sell to the parents of college students.  They can succeed with a Chromebook in front of them. I’ve seen it happen. Oh, and if something happens to it, don’t worry. All of your work is safe, and once you can afford a new one, all that it takes is a Google sign in to restore your machine.

I purchased my Chromebook with Chet’s help and couldn’t be happier with it–all of my work is seamlessly saved through my Google account which allows me to pick up where I left off right from my work computer with no hassle, I’ve yet to find anything I CAN’T do on it, and it didn’t break the bank. Perfect lil bloggin’ machine, in my opinion. What do you think? Do you have a Chromebook? Would you buy one?