Google Productivity Pad: 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Preparing for New Year's Resolutions

We are now quickly approaching that time of the year where we will need to set our New Year's resolutions.

Make an idea list now
As soon as you read to post you should begin to make an idea list of the goals you may want to accomplish next year. If you wait until New Year's Eve or Day when you have sat down to actually commit to those goals then you are going to have a heap of trouble coming up with them. Great ideas seldom come to us when we force them. So have some way of keeping track of ideas as they come to you so that when you do sit down to set goals you will have a list of options in front of you to choose from.
In my series on goals and iPads I have a post dedicated to writing goals down: click here to read it.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

App Review: Relax

Name: Relax -- Stress and Anxiety Relief
Price: 4.99 or Free
Stars: 3
Type: Stress Relief

The Relax app has one purpose in mind: to help you reduce stress through breathing exercises. It is a simple app that allows you to select your level and time duration based on your ability and current situation.

The app works well for the most part, but occasionally it does crash in the middle of an exercise. Other than that one problem I do not have any complaints after using it for a couple months.

The app gives you both auditory and visual pacers for your breathing. It will play one tone for your inhale and another for your exhale, if you are an advanced breather it will also play one for retention. You also watch a corresponding segment of the circle fill. One time around the circle is one complete exercise.

The concept is that you will become more relaxed as you breathe with a regular pattern, clearing you mind, and getting the proper amount of oxygen to your body. I have found this to be a very useful way to relieve stress. I use the Relax app twice a day, once right after exercising to prepare my mind to write, and right before I go to sleep to help me fall asleep faster.

And there you have it folks, the Relax app is a great little app that can train you in relaxive breathing. I think reducing stress can make you a more effective and productive person. Have you ever used this app or know of one like it? Share it with us in the comments below. Have a fantastic day, and remember, live better.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Yeah, your web browser is not a todo list either

Quick, how many browser tabs do you have open? Have any of them been open to the same page for days? How about weeks?
If you have a lot of browser tabs open, and they have been open for a long time, you may be falling into the common trap of the "browser todo list" of which the mental process goes something like this:

"Oh, I need to research that thing,or I need to figure out that event,or I need to find out more about this person,let me just open a browser tab with that websitethen I will remember TODO it"

Oh No! You just asked the browser for something not in its job description!
Sorry, but the web browser, like your email, was built for a certain task, and letting you know what to do and when to do it, was not it.

These are not ToDo lists

Now I will admit that I am guilty of this very often, that's why I am writing a post on it, as part of my recovery therapy. It's an easy trap to fall into, but here are the problems with it.
  1. It increases your subconscious load and makes you feel guilty
  2. It hampers the two minute rule
  3. It is unreliable
Lets talk about these, and then we will look at some solutions to help with the problem.

First, It increases your subconscious load and makes you feel guilty

Here's what happens, you open up a browser tab and go to a website so you can remember where to go. Now every time you are working in the browser there is that nagging little tab open, saying, "you haven't done this yet, you haven't done this yet" it's annoying and you can't get it off your mind because you didn't unloaded it into a system you trusted for a time that was appropriate. You don't need that kind of mental baggage dragging down your productivity, so don't do it.

Second, It hampers the two minute rule

Most of those things that you open a browser tab for a simple information tasks that could be completed in two minutes or less, so you should just do them and not try to remember to do them at all. Thinking your browser is your todo list and will remind you to do them encourages you to put them off when you really shouldn't.

Third, It is unreliable

Ever had a browser crash? How about your computer? Yeah, I figured you had. Or how about just leaving something in the browser tab so long that it became irrelevant? The browser is not a good system because it to easily loses information, and it is to easy for it to get lost in the shuffle of the day. Let's face it, you have a lot going on in that web browser.

So now that you know there is a problem, what can you do about it? Well fortunately for you I have the same problem, so I have been coming up with a few solutions. But I still have a long way to come so please also leave you suggestions in the comments below.
  1. Copy and Paste
  2. Reliable information storage (ie Evernote)
  3. Read it later 
This first one, Copy and Paste, sounds simple, and it is. Cntrl-C and Cntrl-V are probably the two most commonly used commands in all of computing. So here is the secret, you can copy and paste URLs, into the notes of your ToDo list,

Why would this be a useful thing? Well it gets the task where it belongs, on the ToDo list, while allowing you still feel confident you will be able to access the resourse when you need it. So copy and paste away.

You may not always need to access the whole web page, there may just be some information you were looking for that you know you will need later on. This is where number two, Reliable information storage, comes in.  

Instead of leaving the whole page open in your browser you can just take the information you need and put it into your information system so that you can find it later. In the old days this was called a filing cabinet, now it is called Evernote. There are other services you could use, but Evernote is the one I think is the best.

To make the system reliable you will need to develop a system of organization that allows you to find the information you have stored in the future when you need it. If the system is not reliable, you will not want to close out the web browser because you won't know if you will find the information again.

The other reason people leave pages open in their browser is because they find an interesting article and the simply want to Read it later. That's good, while browsing social media or news sites we often find articles we want to read, but don't have time to right then.
Leaving those articles open in the web browser is not the best option. A much better choice is to put them some place that is designed for reading later. It is especially useful if it can be stored for offline reading.

There are many programs that let you do this. If you want the simplest one you can use the one built into the Safari browser, called Reading List. I prefer to use the application Pocket because it integrates with both twitter and flipboard, and you can also email article you find elsewhere to your Pocket for later viewing. If it is an article you need to read for something make sure it also makes it onto you todo list.

There you have it folks, 3 problems with the web browser being a todo list and three solutions you can implement today so you won't do it anymore. It is not easy to break out of this habit; I've been notorious for doing this for years. I still struggle with it. If you have any tips that could help or questions about anything I have said please leave a comment below. Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks for an Era of Miracles: Thanksgiving Day post

As I reflect on what I am thankful for this year, and particularly in relation to this blog, I can only think that I am grateful to live in an era of miracles. I have often thought that we fail to think many things are miraculous, not because we can explain them, but because we believe that somebody can (click to tweet).
In our currant age of wonders we have become so accustomed to the amazing things around us that we fail to be grateful for them. In fact we, like the Israelites of old, often complain about little things that we perceive wrong with the miracles of today. Food falls out of heaven, or we pull information out of the air, and we complain that the taste is wrong or that the speeds aren't fast enough.
Although I certainly complain about technology problems as much as anyone else, there is a lot of value in taking a moment to think about the incredible world in which we live.
I can learn almost anything I want to know in just moments by using a device I keep in my pocket. I can keep contact with people who live all the way around the world and who I have not seen in years, and yet we are able to share the details of our lives with each other.
The things we are able to do now were once only dreamed of in science fiction stories, these things that were once considered fantasy have been brought into reality by brilliant men and women who have seen beyond limitations. They have allow us to do amazing things, for which I am grateful.
So when your relatives arrive by flying through the air, or you send a pictures of your feast to your friends through iMessage, or you cook said feast without ever lighting fire, just take a moment to be grateful for the Era of Miracles in which we live. Then comment below or tweet me to let us all know what miracles you are grateful for.
And remember, live better.
Just sending a little thanks via the communicator.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How you can become a morning person, Part 3(of3): System for success

Now that we have gone over Part 1 and Part 2 of getting up early we will look at Part 3 which involves the actual act of waking up early.

Third, System for Success
Once you have your belief and your cause it is all a matter of setting yourself up for success. You need to make it easy for yourself to wake up each morning. This means developing a routine that will help you do two things:
  • Get out of bed
  • Get your brain working
Even with a cause worth completing, getting out of bed is often the hardest mountain you have to climb each morning. Getting out of bed litterally goes against the laws of the universe, at least so far as Issac Newton understood them. Consequently, it often requires being acted upon by an outside source, namely the alarm clock.
You are going to defy this guy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How you can become a morning person, Part 2(of 3): Cause worth completing

This is the second in a three part series on how you can become a morning person. For review purposes here are the three parts:
1. Belief in the principle
2. Cause worth completing 
3. System for success

Today we will talk about number two, Cause worth Completing

"Two wolves struggle inside me...
Which one wins?
The one I feed"
Native American Folk Tale

Everyday when my alarm goes off I face an internal struggle between my good self and my bad self. The only way to have my good self win is to have something to "feed" it. I need to have a great reason that it can get up and start doing something.

For me, my cause worth completing right now is blogging. I know that when I wake up I will be able to spend my time blogging, accomplishing something that will not get done if I do not wake up. That motivates me.

You have to have a cause, or you will not get out of bed, especially not at first. It will be a fight every moment. Even if you have part one down and you truly believe that being a morning person will be better for you, you still will not do it in the moment unless you have a cause that you care about.

How do you get a cause worth completing? It's something hanging out at the back of your mind or on your someday list that you would really like to get done if only you had the time. It may be something you want to DO, or LEARN, or DEVELOP.

So, right now, this very moment, write down 5 things that you wish you were doing, learning, or developing in life that you are not right now. Now choose one or two of those that you can really commit to. Decide to begin doing that in the morning. Write your answer in the comments below so we can all be inspired by what you are about to do.
Don't forget to check out Part 1 if you haven't yet. Part 3 will be coming soon. I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember, live better

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How you can become a morning person, Part 1(of 3): Belief in the principle

Well since I took the liberty to tell you that you can and should be a morning person, then I told you how I did, I thought it was only right if I told you how you can do it too. I'm going to warn you right now though that it is not fun or comfortable, but the results are worth the effort.

"Can you make yourself do something you don't want to doin order to get a result you really want?" Andy Andrews (paraphrased)

That is really so true of why so many people fail to do the things they really want, because they will not force themselves into uncomfortable positions, such as waking up earlier.
Here are the three things that will make all the difference:

1. Belief in the principle
2. Cause worth completing 
3. System for success

We are going to consider all of them because they are all essential for success in this endeavor you are about to begin. In this post we will consider the first.

First, Belief in the principle
In the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Reepicheep says:

"We have nothing, if not belief"

This is a very true statement, if you do not believe in something that you surely will not make yourself uncomfortable to achieve it. You must believe, in order to achieve, or at least want to believe enough to experiment.
Do you believe that waking up early will help you be more productive?
Probably not, that's why you are not doing it. First you need to believe, I suggest looking to you faith or philosophical tradition if you have one, most contain this principle of early rising. For me this belief is born out of the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 88:124,

"...cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated"

You can likely find similar sentiments in your own tradition.
Belief in a principle we have not yet lived an be aided by seeing its effect in the lives of others. If you begin to study people you admire who achieve great things you will likely find that they wake up early, it is an uncommon trait among the common, but a common trait among the uncommon(click to tweet).

Alright that is it for part 1, the next 2 parts will be up soon. Please tweet me your thoughts or leave them in the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember, live better.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

LDS Gospel Library app tips

I heard someone in church recently mention how difficult it was two switch back and forth between the lesson manual and the scriptures in the gospel library app. That is when I realized that everyone might not have the knowledge of how to use the functions of the gospel library app as I do, and I might not know everything that others do,so I figured I would write a post to start a discussion about it.

Opening multiple books at the same time
Remember the old paper days when you had to bring three or four different books to church and have them spread across your lap during the lesson? Fortunately those days are over and it is still easy to have both your scriptures and the lesson manual open at the same time. Simply open up a new window in the app by tapping the window button (red arrow) and then the plus button (orange arrow). Now you have a new window where you can open up the other book. You can easily switch between these windows by tapping the window icon again.

Returning to a recently opened spot using the back arrow
If you don't want to switch back and forth between windows you can easily get back to the last place you were reading by hitting the back arrow button (yellow circle). This works very similar to the back button in a web browser.

Returning to a recently opened spot using the history 
Similar to usin the back arrow you can also get back to any recently opened spot by going to the history. You do this by clicking the clock button on the side (green arrow), you will then see a list of all the document you have recently opened in the app organized by date. You can click on one to return to it.

Using links to easily stay with the lesson
When you are in Sunday School, Priesthood, or Relief Society class you can easily be wherever you need to be reading by using the lesson manual in the app. The lesson will have links to most if not all of the scriptures you will be reading. For example see the Doctrine and Covenants manual below with links (blue arrows). You can then, of course, easily return to the lesson page usin the back arrow as mentioned above.

Sharing a passage
It is easy to share a passage to social media, or via email or the messages app. Simply highlight the passage you wish to share and then hit the share/export button (Purple circle). Then choose the way you want to share it. The nice thing about this is it will automatically take out the footnote letters and create a link back to the page with the scripture for you.

So that is just a few tips for the app. I have others that I will probably share another time. If you have any please share them with everyone using the comments below. I hope you enjoyed this post, and remember, live better.

Friday, November 8, 2013

My problem with iPad cases

Is that I hate them.
And I think they look stupid.
And they are way to expensive.
And they make your beautiful iPad as clunky as a laptop.

These are smart covers, I'm ok with them
it is cases I have an issue with.

Ok, so clearly that is problems not problem, but many cases don't have all these problems, so I did not feel I could very well put problems in the title, although some do have more than one of these problems.

They look stupid
It never ceases to amaze me how case designers can take a product as beautifully designed as the iPad and wrap it in a case that makes it look absolutely aweful. I don't want to offend anyone, but I got an iPad, and I kind of want it to look like an iPad

They are way to expensive
I cannot believe how pricey these things get. Its like because they are making an accessory for a premium product people think they can charge a premium for the accessory. I refuse to pay those kind of prices for something I really just want to forget I even have.

They make your beautiful iPad as clunky as a laptop
Now don't get me wrong, I fully understand why otterbox exists, and I recommend them to people in many circumstances, even my own family members.

Unfortunately this is not one of those posts where I get to give you a solution to life's problems, this is a post in which I hope to glean some help from you.

Here is my criteria for what I need out of a case:
Minimalist -- I shouldn't feel like the case is there, it should not cover up the bezel
Thin -- it needs to add almost no weight to my iPad
Protection -- needs to cover both back and front (when closed)
Stand -- it must allow me to make the iPad stand up for typing
Price -- a case is an accessory I should not feel like I am buying another I pad when I pay for it

So that's all, I don't ask for much, just perfection. So if any of you have any ideas or can point me in a good direction please do by commenting on this post or saying something on twitter to @halduauthor.

Monday, November 4, 2013

5 reasons your email cannot be your todo list

email can easily get out of hand,
because it is controlled by others

I've talked about email productivity before in my post on inbox zero. This particular post is about the very common email productivity  mistake of using your inbox as your todo list. This mistake is, in fact, so common that I find myself doing it every couple days.

You may be having this problem if you:
  • Find yourself continually marking emails as "unread" so you will come back to them
  • You tell people "send me an email" even though you already have all the information so you will remember to do it
  • You send yourself emails to remind you to do things
You are probably saying to yourself, so, what's the problem? If email works as a todo list why shouldn't I use it as one? There are several problems:
  1. Other people have control over it
  2. You didn't write it down
  3. It discourages the "2-minute rule"
  4. You do not get an email about everything you need to do
  5. You can't trust the system

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Title: The Noticer: Sometimes All a Person Needs is a Little Perspective
Author: Andy Andrews
Genre: Introspective
Stars: 4

I loved this book so much. Probably because at its heart it was all about living better. In all honesty I was teetering on the edge of giving it 5 stars, and you know what that means from me. This is a short read that won't take you very long at all, but you may very well think about it for the rest of your life.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How I became a morning person

So I promised you a post about this way back in August when I wrote this post, the death of the avian myth. The question always comes up, well if I am not actually a night owl then how do I become an early bird?
I am a simple man so I like the simple formula to answer this question:
You decide = You succeed
You can give me all kinds of excuses about that, about how you tried but it just didn't work. And I will say "Oh that is very sad, but the truth is as long as you have an excuse it means you did not really decide." And that is just the brutal honest truth that someone has to tell you if you are ever to change and live better.

Only morning people see the sunrise

But enough about you, this post is suppose to be about me. As I have said before I have had some struggle throughout my life with being a morning person. And there have been various times in my life when I have had to get up earlier. Of course a lot of this depends on what you consider early. Here's a timeline:
  • Home: Every person in my house was required to get up by 6:45 each morning to come to family scripture study. Some of us were more awake during that time that others, but we were all out if bed. That was basically my waking up time until I started seminary.
  • Seminary: In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) we have a weekday religion class for high school students, you can read more about it here. Most of these classes happen sometime between 5-7 in the morning. Because I grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere there was no local class I could attend mornings so, I had a home-study program I could theoretically do whenever I wanted. However, my mother preferred that I do it at 6:00 in the morning.
  • College: When I went to college my first year my whole perspective of morning and night changed. 8:00 was suddenly very early to be starting anything let alone class, and it became the most natural thing in the world to see the backside of midnight and beyond (needless to say New Year's Eve quickly lost its charm). 
  • Mission: After my first year of college, however, I went on my mission. I've said before that Mormon missionaries adhere to a very strict schedule. Part of this schedule is waking up at 6:30 every morning, so for the next to years I was a morning person. I think this is probably when I first began to think that maybe it was all a decision whether you were a morning person or a night person. I saw many missionaries from different backgrounds and walks of life all conform to the same schedule, because of something they believed in. 
  • College again: returning to college I thought maybe the habits from my mission would just carry over. Of course I was wrong, bad habits are hard to break, but good habits are not. Within no time I was waking up just in time to rush out the door to catch the bus for my earliest class. And I was back to being a night owl staying up late, blearily staring at a computer trying to do homework without conscious thought. 
  • Home again: that following summer I returned home to work as an agricultural research assistant, which is essentially farm work involving a lot of meticulous data gathering. We normally started at about 7:30 in the morning, so you can imagine that my habits from college were no longer going to cut. But that did not mean that I was a morning person. 
A decision point: that summer I was home, I had one of the worst and most devastating experiences of my highly stable and privileged life. I began going through a phase that felt like a beach boys song "I come in late at night and in the morning I just stay in bed." Of course I wasn't staying in bed super late because of work, but I was only waking up to go to work. I was barely fitting in time for my scripture reading before heading out the door.
I was essentially just surviving from day to day, in something of a cloudy haze of alternately self-depreciation and feeling sorry for myself. In essence I was doing what most people spend their whole lives doing because, in part because they wake up with just enough time to get to work.
Well eventually two things happened that probably saved my life, or least made it more than a drawn out pity party.
  1. I had a friend: it is incredible what having a friend will do for you. I don't want to go into the power of friendship too much here because of space and time, but if you can be a friend to someone going through a hard time please do so.
  2. I went to a lecture: In the church I belong to we periodically have special lectures called firesides. I went to one that summer that served as a catalyst to change my life forever. The speaker at this particular fireside gave the "formula" that would allow us to become men and women that were successful that Christ would be able to use to help others. The first point in the formula was, "get up early, magic hours rule the world." He explained that the most productive and successful people got up early, well before most of the world. 
I really wanted to resist that concept, I wanted to pretended that it didn't matter when you gor up you could still be productive, but I knew from the history of experience I have related to you that that just wasn't true.  So I decided that night that I would change and become better.
Of course, it is hard for us to give up something we think is part of us, as I discuss I this post. I have not been perfect at this change, and getting up early is not the same as being a morning person, but it is a place to start. I have made tremendous progress at changing something that I thought for many years was just the way I was.
Now I know this post has been all about me, and pretty long. But I hope you enjoyed, and hopefully soon I will do a post all about how YOU can become a morning person. If you have any questions or thoughts please shoot me a tweet @halduauthor, or leave me a comment below.

As always, if you found this post helpful or interesting you can  it, or use one of the buttons below to share.

Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Apple's iPad event, my thoughts

iPad Air: This thing is absolutely amazing. The fact that they were able to shrink the iPad that much really impresses me. The biggest change was kind of spoiled by the iPhone launch which showed us the A7 processor, but it is going to make an incredible difference to have 64 bit processing in a tablet.
I don't think most people comprehend what this is going to mean, people ho-hum about processors because there is always a new one coming out, but the processor is what makes your iPad go so you should probably care about it, but the fact that you don't is evidence that Apple is succeeding in their goal of making devices and specs disappear into the user experience.
What people don't see, because it feels so natural, is that iPad has untethered people in a way the laptop never could. With a 64 bit device that will untether more people because suddenly you can do processor intensive work away from your desk that you never could before. For many people going all iPad can suddenly become a reality.
Retina iPad Mini: I'll admit I did not think we were going to get this device, so I am all the more blown away by it because of my skepticism. I'm really amazed that they have given it an A7 processor and a retina display. I guess the battery performance enhancements of the A7 were the only way they could have got the retina display to work and still have given all day battery life on the iPad mini.

Mavericks: Because if my internet situation have been unable to upgrade either my MacBook or my wife's MacBook Pro to OSX Mavericks yet, but I hope to soon. What I will say is that I think Apple is awesome for releasing this operating system for free. It makes me happy to see that they recognize that we have already spent a lot of money on their computers and so they are willing to let us keep them up to date for no cost. I am excited to see the performance improvements that should come from upgrading.

iWork: Now iWork does not excite most people, because most people have been tethered to the oppressive MS Office Suite for so long that they think productivity apps are something that you just have to deal with problems on because you have to use it. This is not the case with iWork, which, like everything Apple does, just works.
So, I am excited for the updates to iWork. Apple has shattered the industry's pricing model which makes me happy every time they do it. But the thing I am most excited for is collaboration on all kinds of projects through iCloud. Lets face it we have all been stuck on google docs far to long. And while I love the annoynous animals on those, working on something that actually works will be a far better experience.

Final thoughts: in this event Apple leveled the iPad models. They made it so essentially the only difference between an Air and a Mini is the screen size. I believe this shows that they are not interested in making cheap products, they are interested in making great products that people will use. They know that people want different sizes of tablets and they also know that people want the same power out of a Mini that they get from an Air, so they have made that the case.
They have essentially said that they will not make a cheaper product, but if you want something that costs less they will sell you an older excellent product at a lower price. Which is fine by me because Apple's "old" products are still leaps and bounds ahead of any of the competition. Why? Because Apple designs with the consumer in mind from the beginning and they only bring to market those products that are the very best quality.
Unlike companies like Samsung who rush as many different products to market as they can hoping that somebody will like some of them. This is why Android products feel outdated so fast, they were not designed with you in mind to begin with. Contrast that with the iPad 2 which I still see being used by people everywhere everyday and which Apple can continue to sell because it was such an amazing product to begin with.

As always, if you found this post helpful or interesting you can  it, or use one of the buttons below to share.
Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Technology quotes from General Conference October 2013

Every first weekend in April and October the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds our General Conference. The prophets and apostles of The Lord along with other church leaders speak to the church on spiritual matters. I try after every conference to gather the quotes that have to do with technology. There were not a whole lot this time, I think we got most of it in the special broadcast earlier in the year. But there were a few I found. If you found others please let me know.

Elder Hales,  General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony
"Heavenly Father has provided the way. At this conference, 97 percent of the Church can hear these messages in their own language. Millions of members in 197 countries will watch this conference in 95 languages. In just two or three days the messages will appear on in English, and within one week they will begin to be available in 52 languages. Now we receive the printed Church magazines within three weeks of the general conference. No longer do we have to wait months for the talks to arrive by mail. On a computer, phone, or other electronic device, we can read, listen to, watch, and share the teachings of the prophets. Anytime, anywhere, we can enlarge our knowledge, strengthen our faith and testimony, protect our families, and lead them safely home.

The messages of this conference will also be woven into the online youth curriculum. Parents, you may access youth lessons for yourself on Find out what your children are learning, and make it the subject of your own study, family discussions, family home evenings, family councils, and personal interviews with each of your children concerning what they need to be taught individually.

I encourage all members to use the resources on the Church’s websites and mobile apps. They are continually being refined so that they are easier to use and more relevant to our lives. On you will find resources to help you study the gospel, strengthen your home and family, and serve in your calling. You can also find your ancestors who need temple ordinances and resources to support you in the work of salvation, including sharing the gospel. Parents can take the lead in preparing their children for baptism, the priesthood, full-time missions, and the temple. They can help us walk the strait and narrow path of temple ordinances and covenants and qualify for the blessing of eternal life.

In last April’s conference, in the general priesthood meeting, I told about my father drawing a picture of a knight in armor to teach me about putting on the whole armor of God and the spiritual protection it brings.

After that session was over, a father reported to his family what he had learned. Inspired, their young son Jason searched to hear the message for himself. A few days later he appeared in family home evening to share the lesson with his brothers and sisters."

Elder Ochoa, Look Up
"Given the urgent need for spiritual preparation in a time of such peril, I want to extend a word of warning about one very strong sign of the times. My professional life put me on the forefront of technology, so I recognize the value it has, especially in communication. So much information of man is now at our fingertips. But the Internet is also full of much that is filthy and misleading. Technology has augmented our freedom of speech, but it also gives an unqualified blogger false credibility based on the number of viewers. This is why now, more than ever, we must remember this eternal principle: “By their fruits ye shall know them” ( Matthew 7:20 ).

In particular, I caution you not to view filthy images or give your attention to the false accusers of Christ and the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both actions create the same effect: the loss of the Holy Ghost and His protecting, sustaining power. Vice and unhappiness always follow.

My dear brothers and sisters, if you ever come across anything that causes you to question your testimony of the gospel, I plead with you to look up. Look to the Source of all wisdom and truth. Nourish your faith and testimony with the word of God. There are those in the world who seek to undermine your faith by mixing lies with half-truths. This is why it is absolutely critical that you remain constantly worthy of the Spirit. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is not just a pleasant convenience—it is essential to your spiritual survival. If you will not treasure up the words of Christ and listen closely to the promptings of the Spirit, you will be deceived (see Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37 ). We must do these things."

Elder Cook, Lamentations of Jeremiah: Beware of Bondage
"First, addictions that impair agency, contradict moral beliefs, and destroy good health cause bondage. The impact of drugs and alcohol, immorality, pornography, gambling, financial subjugation, and other afflictions imposes on those in bondage and on society a burden of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to quantify.

Second, some addictions or predilections, while not inherently evil, can use up our precious allotment of time which could otherwise be used to accomplish virtuous objectives. These can include excessive use of social media, video and digital games, sports, recreation, and many others. 

How we preserve time for family is one of the most significant issues we face in most cultures. At a time when I was the only member of the Church in our law firm, one woman lawyer explained to me how she always felt like a juggler trying to keep three balls in the air at the same time. One ball was her law practice, one was her marriage, and one was her children. She had almost given up on time for herself. She was greatly concerned that one of the balls was always on the ground. I suggested we meet as a group and discuss our priorities. We determined that the primary reason we were working was to support our families. We agreed that making more money wasn’t nearly as important as our families, but we recognized that serving our clients to the best of our abilities was essential. The discussion then moved to what we did at work that was not necessary and was inconsistent with leaving time for family. Was there pressure to spend time in the workplace that was not essential? We decided that our goal would be a family-friendly environment for both women and men. Let us be at the forefront in protecting time for family."

Elder Perry, The Doctrines and Principles Contained in the Articles of Faith
"This doctrine is to the Church like a battery is to a cell phone. When you remove the battery from your cell phone, it becomes useless. A church in which true doctrine is no longer taught is similarly useless. It cannot guide us back to our Heavenly Father and our eternal home...

All of us should aspire to embody these attributes and lead lives that exemplify them. The truths taught in the Articles of Faith build upon one another like the components of a cell phone mutually supporting one another. Like the elaborate supply chain that adds components to a cell phone, the Articles of Faith supply us with key doctrines of the Restoration. Each article of faith adds unique value to our understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How I ended up with an iPhone

If you know me very well you know I am somewhat of a paradox, because I am a very big Apple fan who has never owned and iPhone, there aren't very many people in that demographic and now I'm not either. For years (since giving up my old palm zire) I have owned an iPod touch and been very happy with it. While I have always been very interested in the iPhone and what was going on with it I never felt any need to own one.

Here's why:
  • That's a lot of money for a cellular radio: If you buy an iPhone straight out (off contract) they cost a lot of money, much more than an iPod touch. That just seemed like a lot of money to me to get a cellular radio. Especially since I would never use the cell phone feature because I hate cell phone companies.
  • I hate data plans: If you have read my blog very long you know how I feel about data plans and the way cell companies use them to rip people off. I refuse to pay for one so I figured I would never own an iPhone on contract, and I could never afford to pay for one off contract.
What happened: 
  • I always buy used: I never buy electronics new, it simply is not worth it with the fast depreciation of their value. Now fortunately Apple products hold their value better than some others I could mention, but still I prefer not to take the initial hit. Food is about the only thing that I buy new.
  • Lost and Found Sale got canceled: Traditionally BYU, where I attended school, holds a lost and found sale every fall, where unclaimed items are put up for sale and auction. This is a place where I have gotten some good deals on used electronics in the past (as well as a lot of other items). Well this year it got canceled for some unknown reason, this left me with an unused electronics budget.
  • I went to a yard sale: well, I go to lots of yard sales, it's part of how I avoid buying new, but this yard sale had something I had never seen at a yard sale before: an iPhone. Granted it was a 4S which is now a two year old model, but the upgrade is all in where you are coming from, not where other people are.

Why I got it:
  • iOS 7: my iPod touch has been a loyal and faithful device, but it is not able to make the upgrade to the new operating system. In order to keep writing a relative blog here I knew I would need to be able to talk about iOS 7.
  • Sweet deal: Off contract phones are expensive, like new computer expensive. Even old models can fetch a pretty good price. So when I saw a good deal on one, that made we want to jump on it.
  • Better camera: Once I knew the phone was a 4S and not a 4 I knew that the camera in it would be much, much better that the one on my iPod touch or the one on my iPad mini. Since I never carry a camera with me anymore the purchase of a new device is essentially also the purchase of a camera.
  • More Memory: the phone had of course been reset so I could not tell how much memory it had before I bought it, but I knew it would have to be more than my 8 gig iPod touch. Up until the release of the iPhone 5S there was no 8 gig version of the 4S, and this was before that release. So logically I had to at least double my memory to a 16 gig by purchasing it. It actually turned out to be 64 gig which made me feel even better about my purchase. 
So there you have, I bought an iPhone, at a yard sale. How many people do you think have done that? If you have a good story about getting a sweet deal on an Apple product I would love to hear it in the comments below.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What my iOS devices are to me

Recently I had a couple of experiences that caused me to start thinking about this.

First, I attended BYU's Cougar Tech Expo. At the expo I attended a session where it was talked about unexpected things your iPad could be for you. These included a television, a cell phone, a GPS, and a Remote Desktop.

Second I had an small argument with one of my buddies about the merits of the iPhone verses an Android. I explained to my friend that Android owners generally use their phones as phones(which he does), while iPhone users use them for much more than that(which I do). This phenomenon is due in large measure to the superiority of the App Store to the Google Play store. However when pressed I had a hard time articulating on the spot exactly what I use it for.

These experiences got me thinking about everything our iPhones, iPads, or iPod touches can be to us. Mine are such an intergral part of my life at this point that its hard for me to even think in the moment what I them for. So I sat down an made a list of what mine do for me or items they replace. Here it is:
  • Laptop
  • Planner
  • Social Media manager
  • Instant messenger
  • Alarm clock
  • Email
  • Flashlight
  • Radio
  • Notebooks
  • Todo list
  • Calculator
  • Tickets
  • Weather advisor
  • Navigator
  • Camera
  • Photo editor
  • Level
  • Number pad
  • Score keeper
  • Contacts book
  • QR code scanner
  • Book to read
  • Education assistant
  • Video game system
  • Flash cards
  • Goal tracker
  • Personal trainer
  • Budget tracker
  • Car maintenance calendar
  • Idea catcher 
  • Coloring book
  • Scriptures
  • Hymnal
  • Dictionary
  • Web browser
  • Sketch pad 
  • Magazine
  • Newspaper
  • Brainstorming
  • Whiteboard
  • Word processor
  • Sheet music
  • Video viewer
  • MP3 player
So there is a list of some, I'm sure there are others. You will notice that I did not say phone, because I have a separate feature phone that I use for calling and text messaging, because I refuse to pay carrier smartphone fees. So the main feature that Androids are used for, I don't even use.
Now of course you could say that most if not all of these things are available on the Android side, which is true. I did not say they weren't, I just said they are hardly ever used. Having never had the displeasure of owning such a device, I can only assume that is because they are not very good.
What do you do with your iOS device? What other items does it replace?
I would love for you to share us by commenting below.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Using the iPhone or iPad sleep timer

For as long as I have used an iPod, and now iOS, there has been a feature built into it called the sleep timer. However even though it is a really useful feature it has always been underused because it is often hidden and people don't know about it. My brother in law who uses it frequently suggested that I do a post on it. It is one if those things that I, in my little tech world, took it for granted that other people knew how to do.

The concept: is actually really simple. The idea has always been the you want to listen to music, but you may only want to listen to music for a set amount of time and then you would like it to stop.
This may be for a number of reasons, but the most common one is probably that you listen to music while falling asleep and you don't want the music to keep playing all night, that would just be ridiculous.

So you could create a playlist that just happens to be the length of time it normally takes you to fall asleep, then you could give in a cool name like "lullabies" or "sounds of the night." Or, you could just use the sleep timer, then you could listen to whatever you wanted or put the whole thing on shuffle.
Counter to what you may think, however, the sleep timer is not in the iOS music app. It is, in fact found in the clock app under timer(red arrow), and then under sounds or When Timer Ends (orange arrow) all the way at the bottom the option listed as "stop playing" (yellow arrow).

This picture shows both an iPad on iOS 6 and an iPhone on iOS 7

While it may seem odd that this is not found in the music app, there is a good reason; by being in the timer app it can stop anything that is playing, not just music. This will allow you to use the sleep timer with podcasts, iTunes U lectures, white noise applications, audiobooks, etc.
Now in order to use the sleep timer just:
  1. set it to the appropriate time, say 30 minutes
  2. select "stop playing" as the sound
  3. turn on your audio
  4. go to sleep
Sweet dreams.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

iPad for college Part 4: Accessories and Peripherals

As you take your iPad to college you may find out that what you get out of the box and from the App Store is not enough. You may find that you need some hardware solutions to compliment your iPads usefulness. Here are a few types of accessories that you may find useful.

Cases and covers: these are probably the most common iPad accessories. There are thousands to choose from. They range from standard Apple smart covers to teddybears with tummy screens. The important thing is to get one that matches your needs and style.

Keyboards: If you are using your iPad as your main computing device at college you will probably want to have an external keyboard for it. Particularly for writing all those research papers. Just like cases, there are tons of iPad keyboards to choose from. In fact, some keyboards are cases and some cases are keyboards. Almost all the keyboards now connect to the iPad via Bluetooth. If you need help connecting one check out my tutorial here.

Styli: If you want to take handwritten notes, draw, or do photo editing, you may find it useful to have a stylus instead of just your finger. There are many different styli on the market ranging anywhere from 10¢ to almost $100.
Most styli have a rubbery tip to mimic the conductive nature of a human finger on a capacitive screen. The only big difference in choosing one of these styli is the size, weight, color of the barrel. Other than that they essentially write the same. My recommendation, if you are going to get on of these, is to buy one in the <$1.00 range to see if you it like it before investing in something more expensive.
But my real recommendation on a stylus is to go one of the versions of the Jot from Adonit. They are currently the only precision styli that I know of. Because they use an innovative capacitive disk instead of a rubber tip they actually mimic the way you would write with a ball point pen. I will be doing a full review of them soon.

Hotspot -- if you have a wifi only iPad you may want to consider getting a hotspot to provide yourself with Internet when you are away from wifi. This probably isn't necessary, but can be useful if you need to travel a lot or have an unreliable home or school connection.
There are a lot of different options here as well. My recommendation is the Karma hotspot if it has coverage in your area, you can read a full review here. Another good option is if you are already paying for data on a smartphone you may just be able to turn that phone on as a hotspot depending on your carrier plan.  Also most of the major carriers and prepaid companies offer the option of getting a hotspot with month to month data.

Wi-drive -- one of the issues that can arise from going all iPad is a lack of memory. If you are smart about cloud storage that can help with the problem, but if you are consistently running out of space on your device you may want to consider getting an external wi-drive to help out. The wi-drive connects with your iPad of wifi and allows you to store your files remotely. This is especially useful for things like videos that tend to eat up a lot of the iPad's limited memory.

Camera kit -- if you are using a camera other than the one built into the iPad or an iPhone you will need a camera kit to transfer your photos from your memory card to the photo app. I have never used one myself so I can't make any recommendations based on personal experience. The other option is to get an eye-fi card for your camera and transfer them via wifi.

Apple TV -- if you have an HDTV at your dorm or apparmtent you may want to consider getting an Apple TV. Besides allowing you living room access to all of your iTunes content, the Apple TV will let you mirror whatever is on your iPad onto your television screen. This has the effect of creating a big screen monitor for your iPad. This is awesome for playing video games, ahem, I mean working on homework.

Well guys, I know there is a lot there, remember you don't necessarily need all or any of these. Decking out your iPad can end up getting very expensive. Remember to evaluate each choice based on your needs and budget.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

iOS 7, hands on thoughts

So I have now been running iOS 7 for a few days. My initial impression is that I like it quite a bit. Here are my thoughts in some type of a cohesive form.

  • It's not really that different:
    • Everyone has been making such a big deal about how iOS 7 is the biggest redesign to the iOS ever, which is true, but its not so different that anybody should confused by it.
    • In style it has changed quite a bit.
    • In form and function it is almost exactly the same. Nothing happened in iOS 7 to confuse somebody whose been using iOS in the past, unlike what happened in the Windows 8 redesign.
  • I love control center
    • Control center is the quick access menu you now get when swiping up from the bottom of the screen. This is something that I think we have been waiting for a long time in iOS and I am really glad it is finally here,
    • I'm glad it is available from the lock screen without having to put your passcode in. 
    • I wish you could customize which apps and setting appeared in control center.
  • I like iTunes radio
    • I know it's pretty much just like pandora, but having it built right into my apple device is nice. I don't know how much I will be using it since I don't listen to music that often. Who knows, this might change that.
  • Find My iPhone
    • The updates to security with Find My iPhone are one of the most important features of iOS  7. I highly encourage everyone to keep it turned on. These are the kind of important things that Apple does even though they aren't flashy and don't catch a lot of attention from the media.
  • A few things that bug me:
    • I'm annoyed that Newsstand is no longer a live icon showing the current issues of your magazines. To me this isn't a huge deal, because I really only have the Ensign on my Newsstand, but it still was nice. 
    • While I like the new way multitasking displays with the cards (reminiscent of Web OS, may it rest in peace) and the easy closing, I am not happy happy that there is no force quite all option. Ever since multitasking came out we have been waiting for this option. It does not seem like it would be hard for Apple to give it to us.
    • Another thing I think they easily could have done was give us a Dvorak keyboard. Really, how hard would it be to add one more keyboard layout to the list? Especially since iOS already knows the layout because it can use it for Bluetooth keyboards.
That's it for now guys, these are just my first thoughts, I'm sure I will have lots more to say about it in other posts as we go along. please share your thoughts on iOS 7 with me on twitter or in the comments here.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

You should not buy a laptop, unless...

You NEED one! I mean this really seriously, if you are one of those people thinking about buying a new laptop, any laptop, even a MacBook, you need to seriously consider whether you need one or not before you buy. Because if you do not NEED a laptop functionality specifically, you are probably better off with an iPad. Note that I only recommend laptop replacement with an iPad, no other tablet has the amount of apps and thereby functionality to take the place of most laptops.

Here are the four things to consider before you buy:
Your computing needs: What do you need to use a computer for in your daily life?

If the answer is checking email, Facebook, and playing spider solitaire, then really you only need a tablet, or maybe even just a smartphone.

If, however, the answer is that you are heavily involved in photo and video editing and so you use Photoshop and Final Cut Pro daily, than an iPad is certainly not going to cut it for you.

Somewhere between these to extremes lie most of us. You need to determine where you are, I mean actually make a list, before you buy a laptop. If you don't do anything that requires heavy processing power, if you aren't what they call a "power user" then you probably don't need a laptop.

Your access to other computers: Even if you do have jobs or hobbies that involve heavy computing power, are you really going to do that work on a new laptop? Or do you have access to a desktop that it actually makes more sense to do that work on?

  • At work: If your job involves heavy computing then chances are you have a desktop at the office that satiates your need. In this case having a laptop is only necessary if you need to do a lot of work on the road. The truth is that a lot of us do need processing power to do our jobs, but we don't need to take our jobs everywhere with us.
  • At home: Maybe you are just a hobbyist who likes to write HTML in your spare time, so you really need a computer outside of work to do that. But, do you already have a desktop at home? Do you really need a laptop for your hobby? Would you really even use it very much?
  • At school: Most college students (which I have been posting about recently) have access to a lot of school lab computers so they really have consider whether they need their own computer or if a iPad would suffice along with using the labs when a desktop is needed.
  • At the library: Since losing Internet at my house I have been going to the public library a lot. This has reminded me how many people still do not have home computers, and they still survive. Maybe there are times once or twice a month when you need to do something on a computer that you cannot do on a iPad, perhaps the library could cover these needs and you won't need to buy a laptop.
Your price point: How much money do you have? That is the most crucial question in all of this. If you have a lot of money and nothing to do with it, I guess you can go ahead and buy a laptop, that way you can use spreadsheets to keep track of all your spending and stock options. But if you are really in a tight spot, but really need some kind of computer than you need to consider this carefully. Don't get looped into buying a laptop just because the world seems to say you need one, do what is right for your needs and your budget. I highly suggest considering buying a used iPad, here is a how to guide.

Your timeline: how long are you planning to hang on to this device you want to buy? 1 year, 2 years, 5 years? If you only plan on using it a short while than a cheep netbook might be right for you, but then an iPad mini might also be a good choice. The nice thing about an Apple product versus some of these other computing options is that they tend to keep working longer and hold their value better. For example the original iPad is now four years old, but many people still have them and they work fine, and they can still catch a pretty good price on eBay.

So that's it, consider those four things when deciding whether or not to buy a laptop and you will be good to go. If you have got any questions feel free to drop me a line on twitter or just leave a comment below.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

iOS 7, not yet

Because of my internet issues at home, and because it is the smart thing to do, I am holding off on upgrading to iOS 7 for a few days. I know that is weird for a blog dedicated to iPads, but I kindof have to. Please share your thoughts or questions on iOS 7 by tweeting at me or using the comment below.

And remember, live better.

Monday, September 16, 2013

iPad for College Part 3: Useful Apps

Previously I discussed apps that are really essential to have if you are using an iPad at college, especially if you are not also using a laptop. Also in this series I discussed setting up an iPad for college and how to survive without Microsoft Office. Now I would like to talk about some apps that are useful to have which did not fit into the necessary category. 

Prezi -- Some people love it, some people hate it, most people just haven't got a clue how to actually use it. For those who will put in the time to learn to do a Prezi well, it is an excellent piece of free collaboration and presentation software. Unfortunately the iPad version still lacks a lot of features from the online version, but it is good for beginning projects and brainstorming, but you will have to add the details from a browser version later. The iPad version is also great for presenting if you have an iPad to projector adaptor.

Adobe Reader -- If your college experience is anything like mine, you will read more PDFs than you can count. I use to read these all on my laptop in the early days, the iPad or a Kindle provides a much better experience. While the iPad can open up PDFs by default and can also send then to iBooks, I prefer to use adobe reader for its annotation abilities and easy to use interface. 

iMovie -- If you are doing a lot of video production you are going to want something with a much bigger screen than either sized iPad, but if you just want to do some quick work on the fly than you will probably want this app. 

Penultimate -- This is the sketch pad notebook app made by Evernote. It is a fairly simple app, which is on of the really nice things about it. It is great for taking handwritten notes electronically. It has options for blank, lined, or graph paper,so it is useful in many different classes and settings. All you notes get saved in Evernote which does text recognition on your hand writing.

Skitch -- Another Evernote produced app, Skitch is for annotation. It allows you to draw over the top of pictures, screenshots, or PDFs. It makes explaining things really easy. I use it annotate most of the screenshots I share on this blog.

LinkedIn -- Most college students are using Facebook and Twitter, but LinkedIn is another important network that they should begin to build a strong professional presence on. Much of the business world is moving online and LinkedIn serves as your virtual, searchable, online résumé. They have been making a lot of improvements to the app over the past few months, it still is not fully fuctional, but it is getting there.

Wikipedia -- Professors may not all be agreed on Wikipedia yet, but students mostly are. It is probably the best place to gain quick information in terms you can understand, it can give you a summary and explanation of almost anything, often better than your teacher. There are a lot of different apps that can hook you into Wikipedia, choose one that you like, I use wikipanion.

iTunesU -- sometimes you just need a little extra explanation about a subject, or you can't take a course because you don't have time, but you would love to learn the about it. iTunesU has thousands of lectures that can help you, and they are all free! 

Well, this is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it is a good place to start. Next in this series I will be talking about accessories and peripherals to use with the iPad in college. 

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

College Apps: What about Microsoft Office on the iPad?

Note: This post was written before Microsoft released Office for iPad. I still stand by what I wrote here though, and you can read my thoughts on office for iPad in this post.

Now let's answer that crucial question:
What about Office?

If you have lived on this planet anytime since 1998 chances are you've been wound up in the world of Microsoft office. Unfortunately our world seems to run on this bloated suite of software, and if all you have is an iPad your going to run into trouble right off the bat. For some odd reason Microsoft has never decided to bless the most popular tablet in the world with its good graces. Although a couple months back they did decide to make a stupid Office version for iPhone, available only to 365 subscribers. There's some typical Redmond innovation for you.

The good news is that if the iPad has taught the us anything it is that we don't need Microsoft, or Office, anymore. There have been a number of Office competitors released for the iPad since its creation, personally I prefer Apple's own suite:
iWork Suite -- it turns out that for years Apple has been making a suite that is as good if not better than the three basic Microsoft Office offerings. They can be had for a much lower cost as well. The best part is that they allow exporting in all of the MS Office file formats, making it easy for you to share files with you unenlightened classmates and teachers.
  • Pages -- is a breath of fresh air after years of the tortuous experience of MS word for years. The iPad version is clean and easy to use. 
  • Numbers -- is an excellent, easy to use, spreadsheet program. But, as I said earlier, it is the area of iWork that is the most lacking to advanced users. However, that type of advanced work is really best done on a computer still, the iPad just isn't ready for it yet. 
  • Keynote -- has been Apple's strongest iWork offering on the Mac offering a much more intuitive experience than MS PowerPoint. On the iPad it has seen a little bit of trouble with issues entering text, but it is still the most robust presentation software out there for a mobile device.
iCloud -- there is even more good news for students going iPad only at college. Apple has recently rolled out the iWork suite to iCloud. This means that if you choose to save your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations to iCloud you can access and edit them from any computer with a web browser. Since most students have access to school computer labs this is the perfect solution for those times when you need more screen space or a large keyboard. 

There you have it, the easy way to leave Microsoft Office behind and just use your iPad. If you have found any other apps that make good substitutes I would like to hear about them. Tweet at me or leave a comment. I would especially like to hear if you've got good substitutes for the less known portions of Office.

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Thanks for reading, and remember, live better (you can start by not using Office anymore).

Update on 9/10/13: Apple has just said that all new iOS devices get iWork for free! So now there is really no reason to care one bit about office.