Google Productivity Pad: March 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How to buy a used iPad

Buying used electronics can be a sticky and risky business. There are a couple of things to consider when doing so. The first point to consider, and this a great tip for productivity and life anyway, is what you want and why. If you just think to yourself, "I want a tablet", or even "I want an iPad" you will either end up with a piece of junk, or something that is more than you need. You have to have something to aim for. Zig Ziggler said "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time."

So here are the things I think you ought to consider when buying any electronic, an iPad especially.
  • Purpose: What do you want to do with it? What do you want to get out of it? Your purpose for having an iPad will help you determine lots of other things about it. 
  • Memory: Based on your purpose you will need to decide how much memory you need to buy. iPads come generally in 3 memory sizes, 16 gig, 32 gig, 64 gig, but apple also just recently released a 128 gig model (for the Retina iPad, not the iPad mini). How much memory you want will make a big difference in the price you will have to pay.
  • Version: You have to decide, based on your purpose, which version of the iPad you need. The iPad has had four different generations, and now there is the iPad mini as well. The versions vary somewhat in features, but the most important thing to consider about which version to buy is how soon you want your iPad to be obsolete(i.e. unable to update to the newest operating system), more about that later.
  • Wireless: Also based on your purpose you will need to decide whether you need a WiFi only model or a cellular model. 
  • Condition: The condition is a really important thing to consider when buying a used electronic, because it is always a question of how bad can it be and still be worth it, you can save a lot of money if you can use a device in less than mint condition, but you probably don't want a large jagged crack down your screen.
  • Pricing: The price is going to be determined mostly by the above considerations, the more you want the more you will pay of course. Once you have determined these considerations decide what it is worth to you. You should not go shopping for an electronic without a maximum priced fixed in your mind.
My purpose in buying an iPad was largely academic, I wanted it to replace my laptop as my mobile school computer. My primary uses for the iPad are note taking, web browsing, reading and writing. I also want it for productivity uses like calendar and todo list. Once I knew my purpose I could decide on memory, because I am not mainly concerned with media (audio, video and pictures) I knew I did not need a ton of memory so I opted to mainly look for a 16 gigabyte model to save money. The 16 gig option is good for those who do not plan on storing large files on their iPad like movies, or playing graphic intensive games. Also if you are good at cloud computing going with the 16 gig is a good way to save money.
As far as the version of the iPad I wanted, I knew I wanted an iPad mini because my purpose was to have it be ultraportable, so I did not have a lot of option when it came to version. Depending on what your purpose is though you can consider older versions that you can get for much cheaper than the newer ones. I do not recommend buying anything so old that Apple will not put the newest operating system on it, right now this only included the original iPad. The reason for that is you will get an empty device and won't be able to load very many apps onto it. However if you want something only for simple functions like web browsing the original iPad would work for you.
When it comes to wireless I really only recommend getting a WiFi only model, you will pay about $130 dollars upfront for a cellular radio and then you have to pay a monthly fee to keep getting data on it. There are people who do have a specific reason they need cellular, but they know already know who they are. Some people say they want it for the GPS functionality, but you can get a pretty good GPS unit for $130 without a monthly fee. All that being said, if you really do need cellular be very careful when buying a used iPad that you get the correct model for the carrier (AT&T or Verizon) that you want to be contracted with, this of course will make finding a good deal that much harder.
I don't like big cracks down my screen, so I'm pretty careful when it come to the condition of the electronics I buy. Do not get caught up in wanting to win an ebay auction that looks like a good deal but is actually a cracked screen, be careful.
Pricing is, of course, the big deal, that is why you are buying used in the first place. So decide on what price you want to get it for and don't go over it. It is easy to get caught up in just wanting to get what you want, but the key is to be patient, get what you really want for the price you really want it.

Once you have set out your plan go looking for it. Personally I like to use ebay. The way I do it is I shop ebay two ways: auctions ending soonest, and buy it nows newly listed. Those are the two ways to find deals, you need to check frequently, often the best deals are buy it nows that surface for only a short period of time before they are bought.
Now there are several caveats to consider. The first one is to periodically check the models with more memory than you want, you might be able to land a good deal there as well, especially if the higher model is one that less people are searching for. The second is to be aware of accessories, the accessories an iPad comes with can make it cost more, but if you are going to have to buy them anyway it is good to take them into consideration. You need to know how much a cord will cost you (I got my lightning cord for about 5 bucks), what kind of case or cover you want and how much that will cost, and if you want a screen protector. Figure this in when deciding if a particular offer is good or not. Also consider if you buy one with accessories you don't need or want if you could resell those individually and make a profit.

So that's it folks, make a plan, then be patient and vigilant, you can get a good deal if you go at it with purpose. If you think this post would benefit others please share it. If you have any questions leave a comment below, and don't forget to subscribe (using the link on the right).

And remember, live better.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

iOS 6.1.3

Hey folks, just a quick note, iOS is the operating system of your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Yesterday or today you should have received a message that a new version is available, iOS 6.1.3. I just thought I would put a post up to let you know what it does. I have yet to receive the notification for the iPad mini, but I did get it on my iPod touch. Apple gives two reasons for the update, the first is the passcode bypass discovered in 6.1.2 is being fixed, the second is to improve maps in Japan. The third unstated reason is to patch the evasi0n jailbreak that people were using to hack their idevices.

If you are a jailbreaker don't do this update, but if you are you probably already knew that.

If you are just a regular user, like myself, you can update it, but I'm not going to at least for a while. I still haven't updated to 6.1.2 because I like to wait and see if there are any major problems with it, like a passcode hack for instance, also these little updates don't really make a difference unless you are having a problem with the specific bugs that they squash. If anything major comes out of this update I will let you know about it.

If you choose to update you can either click on the notification directly, or if you dismiss that y just go to the settings app >> general >> software update.

That's all for now.

And remember, live better.

Review: Gorilla Workout

I believe that there are four basic areas you should be working on in order to improve your life and consequently be more productive: physical, mental, social and spiritual. Anybody can improve in any of these areas by setting longterm and short-term goals in them, you don't need an iPad, but there are apps that can help you in all of them. Today I would like to look at one app in particular that helps with the physical aspect.

Name: Gorilla Workout
Type: Workout generator
Price: Free (20 workouts) or $.99 (over 200 workouts)
Stars: 5

Gorilla Workout is the best app (hence the 5 stars) I have found to get me to exercise. It is a simple app that gives you a workout everyday to help you become a gorilla. When you get the app it you will be shown this screen which will help you choose where to begin. I got the free version first and began with the baby monkey level because I like to feel like I'm achieving my goals.

The free version has five workouts (theoretically one week of workouts) for each level. I completed all the workouts after a while (lets just say more than four weeks) and decided it was worth it to me to buy the full version. I use this app every weekday to workout in the mornings. If you are on the proper level for you workouts take between 10-20 minutes and if you follow them in order you will workout different muscles everyday. The app is really great because it provides you with different exercises so you aren't stuck doing the same thing day after day. I did not know how to do a lot of the exercises I started but they provide both written instructions and video examples to make it easy to learn.

Somedays I hate this app, but only while I'm using it. Check out the free version and see if it can help you.

And remember, live better.

Monday, March 18, 2013

What is the Cloud?

There is a lot out there now about Cloud storage, and if you are using an iOS device at all you are almost guaranteed to be using some cloud features, so I though I would just take a minute here to explain simply what "the cloud" is. The cloud really is not anything new and most of us have been using it for years even before it picks up its name.

Put simply a cloud storage system is when you access files that are not on your own computer (or phone, or tablet) via the internet. For example if you have a gmail account, when somebody sends you an email it is stored on the gmail servers, those servers are huge computers with ginormous amounts of storage in some warehouse far away from you. Your email stays in these computer and when you want to see it you get onto your electronic device and via the internet you access google's servers to look at your mail.

So the truth is you have been using cloud storage for email basically since the invention of the internet. In recent years the big thing has been for people to start storing every kind of file on huge servers. For example if you use FaceBook all of your FaceBook photos are stored on the FaceBook computers somewhere, essentially in the "FaceBook cloud." If you use Evernote all of your documents are stored on the Evernote servers in the "Evernote cloud." When you back up your iPad that information is stored on Apple's servers in the "iCloud" and so on. Anything you can access from the internet is stored in the cloud.

So don't get confused when you see something say that its a cloud service, or that it will sync through the cloud, all that means is that whatever files you give them will be stored on their servers and that you can then access those from your computer or device.

The benefit to iPad users of the cloud is that it allows you to access many files and types of files without clogging up your iPad's limited memory, it also allows for easy syncing. For example I start a not on Evernote on my iPad, then that is uploaded to the Evernote server so later when I'm home and I want to  work on that note on my MacBook it automatically gets pulled down from the server and you have it there. So it is really nice an convenient, when your internet is working, that is.

The danger of the cloud is two things. The first is that if you don't have internet connection you are sunk to access files stored in the cloud. The second is that if the service you are using gets hacked (like almost every major company has in the last year) your personal data could be compromised. The important thing is to weigh these dangers against the benefits when you are storing stuff in the cloud. I like the cloud, but I do think you should be smart about what clouds you choose to use and what you put into them.

That's all for now, and remember, live better.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ctrl F on an iPad

Here is one of the most useful tips I have recently learned for the iPad. You know how when your on a computer in most applications and you need to find a particular word you just hit ctrl (control on PC, command on a Mac) + F and it opens up the find box so you can search that screen for any word. I use that all time and keyboard commands have been one of the hardest things for me to give up switching over to an iPad, however I have recently learned a way to duplicate this function on an iOS device, at least in some applications. Just take a look at this Safari page for supporting the SHIELD act (which you should all do by the way).

If I want to search that page for the word "trolls" (the act is aimed at stopping patten trolls) I can type it into the search bar at the top of the page (red box) and after the google suggestions (my favorite is "trolls in the hobbit") it says "On This Page (12 matches)" with the option below "Find 'trolls'" (orange arrow). As soon as I click on this I get this find dialogue tool bar very similar to what I would have on a computer.

I don't know about you but I find this very exciting. Many other apps also have this functionality, such as Evernote where the magnifying glass tool (yellow arrow) will let you search the document you are working on by bringing up the find box on the keyboard (green box).

I find this to be a super useful tip, and I hope you do too. If you think others would like to know this tip  it or

And remember, live better.

Apps used in this post: Safari, Evernote, Skitch, Blogger

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Review: Producteev

Name: Producteev
Type: Todo list manager
Price: Free
Stars: 4

Producteev is the best todo list app I have ever used and believe me I have used a bunch of them. Producteev is great because it lets you do exactly as much as you want with your tasks. There are a bunch of metadata options, but you don't have to use all or any of them if you don't want to. There is only one problem with Producteev and that is the fact that they have not developed a native iPad app for it. In order to use it on the iPad you either have to use it in mini mode, or 2x mode. It is not too bad, since it is just a task manager the graphics aren't super important but it would be nice to have a dedicated or at least a + app. However, one of the nice things is that it syncs seamlessly across devices and so when I create a new task on my iPod touch it automatically appears on my iPad, my Macbook, or even on the web.

Lets look at the different options for setting up a task. Click the add a new task button (red arrow).

Then you will be shown the following screen. First you enter the name of your task (orange box), and that is the only thing required to create a task, you can then click add and it will appear in your list. But if you like to have some other information you cans as well. Personally I usually set a star for priority (yellow arrow). Sometimes I also set a date if there is a specific day the item is due (green arrow). The other two buttons I never use but they allow you to assign the tasks to different people and add tags to your task.

You can go into your task later and change anything and also add a reminder via push notification or email for a specific day or time. Anyway its a great app to keep you on track and I hope we see an dedicated iPad app for it soon.

That's all for now and remember, live better.

Apps used in this post: Producteev, Skitch, Blogger

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Downloading the New LDS scriptures

Just a quick note for everyone who might read this blog who is Mormon (as am I), the Church released a new edition of the scriptures this week. You can read about it here. That means that if you are a gospel library app user that you can get the new edition right away and not wait until August when the print version is released. Getting the new versions is easy, you simply go into the manage library section of the app (red arrow) --> scriptures --> remove all (orange circle), then wait a second and the old versions will be deleted (if you are using the note book or highlighting features they will still be saved). After they are finished deleting click on download all (yellow circle) and all of the new editions will download to your device. Easy as pie. A list of all the changes can be found here.

Enjoy, and remember, live better.

Why go all iPad?

You hear a lot of people talking about the post PC era, with devices like the iPhone and iPad taking on roles traditionally handled by personal desktops and laptops. I believe this is about to happen and that shortly we will see the demise personal computers. Why? because ordinary people just don't need or use the type of computing power now found inside a desktop computer or even a laptop. Take me for example, I am consider myself a pretty heavy computer user, meaning I use my computer pretty much every waking hour of the day. But what am I doing on that computer? Mostly using the internet or taking notes, these are tasks that are easily done on my iPad mini. It may be a little easier to type on my laptop, but that is easily solved with a bluetooth keyboard, and what I loose in hauling weight more than makes up for it.

A lot of people tell me they just couldn't leave their laptop behind, which may be true for some people, certainly it isn't time yet to get rid of your office computer if you work in an industry where you are on it all day. But when I am out and about I find the iPad mini a much better choice.

Here are my reasons for going all iPad when I'm on the go.
1. it is so much lighter. I waited for the iPad mini to come out before making this decision because I wanted it to be significantly different from my laptop. I like to be able to carry as much as possible in as little space as possible, so for me the iPad presented the perfect option.

2. it is easier to start working on than a laptop. As a student I do a lot of my work in small breaks in between classes and work. The iPad or the mini is able to be out and running much faster than a laptop, even a fast one and which much less hassle. I can work on the iPad mini if I am standing around waiting for someone, or if I am sitting down at a table.

3. it is easier to stop working than a laptop, after taking doing a little work if I need to get going because my ride has come or my class is about to start I just close up my iPad mini's smart cover and slide it into my bag and I'm off.

4. the battery life. All I have to say is that the battery life is incredible on the iPad mini, if I'm out all day I can still come home with 60% battery or more if I start with a full charge, with my laptop I sometimes make it without a charge and sometimes don't (and that's with a MacBook, with a PC laptop you almost always need to take the charger with you).

5. it is much better for reading. As a student I am required to read from a lot of PDF's posted to the class websites or online journal articles. Reading is a much better experience on an iPad than it is on a laptop, especially if you are a speed reader.

And those are the five reasons I can think of for why I switched to the iPad. I still use my MacBook at home, and I personally still have a need for it there for high computer functions, but a lot of people probably don't. If you have a reason for switching to the iPad or a question please leave it in the comments section below.

That's all for now, have a great day.
And remember, live better.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Setting up Email, Calendar and Contacts on the iPad

Note: This post was written using iOS 6, the look of some icons might have changed and few features may have been added or moved in iOS 7 but for the most part it is the same.

Really your iPad is suppose to help you be productive, it can help you do that by allowing you instant access to such basic productivity tools as your email, your calendar, and your contacts. Now you could just go through the iPad's safari web browser to whatever your preferred productivity suite's website is and access them that way, but it is far more productive to use the iPad's stock apps(mail, calendar, contacts), or another app of your choice from the app store.

I prefer to use apple's stock apps, I have tried other apps, especially calendar apps, and nothing seems to work as well for me as the ones that just come with the device. Some people do not like the interfaces of these apps and so they choose to go with a different option, some email providers such as gmail also have dedicated apps for the iPad. Regardless of what option you go with you are going to need to set up your account(s) from the settings page.

We will be dealing with the two options inside the red box today. The most simple option by far is to just use or set up an iCloud account. Since iCloud and the iPad are apple products working together, this option seems to work well (although not always flawlessly). It is an easy process, just click on the iCloud tab and enter your apple iTunes account information (if you do not have an iTunes account now would be a good time to set one up since you will need one to get any apps on your iPad) it will then either log you into your existing iCloud account, or walk you through the process of creating one.

After logging in you will be able to toggle on and off which services you would like synced through that account.

Now if you are a mac user, or if you have decided to forgo a computer completely and just use an iPad, than you could feasibly use only iCloud and be fine. But most people have a work email account, or another calendar account, etc that they would like synced with their iPad. This can be done through the Mail, Contacts, Calendars tab. Click the add an account button, shown in the orange box above. You will then see these options, select your email server by clicking on it. If your server is not listed select "other."

Then you simply enter in you email address and password for that account, they will also ask you to give the account a name and a description but that is only necessary if you are going to have multiple email accounts on your iPad. The iPad will check it and once verified it will as, you what you would like to sync with that account (email, contacts, or calendars). Turn on the feature you desire and poof! your iPad will sync them over and they will appear in the standard Mail, Contacts, and Calendar apps. The account will now appear under "accounts" and you can change the settings for it or delete it at any time by clicking on it.

Fantastic, if you have an questions just put them in the comments below and don't forget to share if you know someone who need a little help.

That's all for now, and remember, live better.