Google Productivity Pad: April 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Review: Podcast App

Name: Podcasts
Price: Free
Stars: 4
Type: Podcatcher, Online Radio

I love podcasts, I won't go into all the details of why I think podcasts are absolutely incredible here because that deserves a post all its own. This is a review of Apple's Podcast app. If you are already an avid podcast listener let me know your favorite podcast by .

A definition: Podcasts are like radio shows on your iPod, only you can listen to them whenever you want and they aren't just about Politics, Problems, and Country Music (not that I don't like those three things) they can be about anything you are interested in, and they also happen to free, which puts them on my good list.

A short history: Podcasts use to be a part of the standard music app on an iOS device, last year apple broke them out into their own app, the one we are currently discussing. This was a good thing because it saved SO much hassle of dealing with the music app for podcasts. Unfortunately it was not Apple's best piece of software, it tended to be buggy and to crash a lot. Good idea, bad implementation. This has caused it to get low, VERY low reviews in the app store.

Where we are now: The podcast app now works very well, it allows you to download or stream your podcasts, it also now allows you to make your own stations, and one of my favorite features is that it helps you to find new podcasts through the top charts section. It still has some bugs, but nothing major. One of the best things is that it will remember your place in the podcast and it will sync across your devices via iCloud.

Tip: There are still a lot of negative reviews in the app store, these are mostly from people who a super podcast listeners and they have been using highly sophisticated podcatching apps for a long time, they want robust functionality, which is fine for them, just don't be turned off by their comments, the podcast app works fine for the average user.

Tip #2: turn of the little red badge icon for the podcast app if you don't listen to everything right away, otherwise it can be pretty annoying.

Well that's it for now. Check out the app, let me know what your favorite podcasts are in the comments below. Also if you enjoyed this review or share it.

For your enjoyment here's a screenshot of the top of my podcasts list.

Thanks for reading, and remember, live better

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Inbox Zero, the great key to email productivity

Email, its a big part of our days theses days. The funny thing about email and productivity is that it is like a microcosm of technology generally. Like an iPad or iPhone themselves it can either boost our productivity enormously, or it can kill it in an instant.

It was last summer, I was an intern working everyday in the grueling and information heavy field of the law. I was stressed out of my mind as I tried to handle projects, cases, calls and emails. I certainly needed to be productive, but in this new environment I did not know how. Certainly I knew that productivity is about the things you can control, and it did not seem to me that there were very many of them. That was when I first encountered a concept that many of you have probably heard of: Inbox Zero.

I found this life changing concept in a little ebook called Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst. I am not sure that Mark used the term inbox zero, Merlin Mann has been largely associated with coining that phrase. But Mark did introduce the concept to me:

"No message, no matter how important stays in the inbox"

A light bulb went on inside my head, here was something I could control, something I could fight. 

Inbox zero is the idea that the information in every email belongs somewhere and it is just passing through your inbox. At some point everyday your inbox should be at zero, not zero unread messages, zero period.

The problem is that people are using their email inbox for things it is not designed to do, Mark Hurst lists 5 of them, if you are not at inbox zero it is because of one these:
  • Todo list
  • Filing system
  • Calendar
  • Bookmarks list
  • Address book
This is probably killing your email productivity. There is to much for you to look at to many problems and concepts jumping into your mind for you to really handle what you need to there. The idea is that all you have to do is: 
  1. decide where the information from each email is suppose to go
  2. put it there
  3. then get it out of the inbox

That's all you have to do, and your email stress will go way down. Of course you will need good places like a todo list and calendar to put the information into. I use the stock calendar app and Producteev.

Check out the book in the iBookstore, its free, so you know, well worth the cost. Leave a comment or  which one of the five things you have been using the inbox for that you shouldn't.

I'm not perfect at this whole thing yet guys, I still get overloaded on email sometimes, but I have been trying since last summer and dedicatedly trying since January. I can tell you it helps out a ton. If you enjoy this post or

And remember, live better.

Apps used in this post: Mail, Blogger, Cooliris, Aviary, iBooks

Friday, April 19, 2013

Review: Evernote

Name: Evernote
Type: text editor, word processor, note taker, document manager, cloud storage, OCR, audio recorder, anything you want it to be
Price: Free
Stars: 5

Evernote is probably the single most used app on my iPad. As far as mobile productivity tools go it is the unmatched king of the app hill. Evernote has apps for nearly platform in existence, but this review will be focused on the iPad app.
Evernote as a system is a way to capture almost everything and remember it by storing it in the cloud, accessible by all your devices. Evernote on the iPad is one of the very best ways to use it. Why? Because it is with you almost always so you can capture any idea in a moment, or get some work done while you are waiting five minutes for something else. While evernote for the iPhone is great, on the iPad it is much easier to work and be productive.

As most of you are probably aware there is no native system of file and document storage on the iPad, much to the chagrin of many nerds. At least for text documents evernote gives you some of that control back, you can save a document somewhere and easily find it again. Evernote allows you to organize in several ways through notebooks, tags, location services, etc. It also allows you to search everything so its easily findable. We all know to be productive you have to find what you need to work on, and evernote makes that simpler.

One of evernote on the iPad's biggest productivity advantages is that it integrates so well into the system. If you give it permission evernote will become integrated with your calendar, your photos, your location, and will become an export option for most files from email attachments and websites. It also incorporates with its own secondary applications like Hello, Skitch, Penultimate, and Food.

All in all there is just no reason that you should not be using evernote if you have an iPad. I only have one problem with evernote on the iPad and that is the lack of a word count feature, but I hope that will be fixed in the next update.

That was just a quick review, you will definitely here more about evernote from me in the future, I love it and use it everyday. I am definitely not the most productive or innovative user of evernote. Three people who are much better at it than me are: Katie Floyd, Jordan Collier, and Michael Hyatt.

Thats all for now folks, if you have any questions leave them in the comments sections below, if you use evernote already leave a comment telling me about one of the ways you have found to use it. Also if you found this post helpful share or  it.

And remember, live better.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

How to select multiple emails on an 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.

Just a quick tip for email management on your iPad or iOS device. I will do a whole post on inbox zero and why it is a way to increase productivity later. But we will have a hard time achieving inbox zero from an iPad is we don't know how to select multiple emails at a time.

The reason for doing so is that you can do three things faster:

  • Move multiple emails into folders
  • Mark multiple emails as flagged or unread
  • Delete multiple emails

You have to do this all by hand if you don't know how to work with multiple emails at a time. This can be very time consuming if you deal with a high volume of email.

Here's how you do it:
Tap the edit button in your top toolbar (red arrow)

Your email list will change so that you have these options on the bottom: Delete, Move, Mark (orange box). You also now have the little select bubble (yellow arrows) next to each email.

Select all the emails you want to apply something to by tapping the bubble next to it, a check mark will appear. Then either delete, move, or mark them as you desire by tapping the corresponding button at the bottom of the screen.

There you have it, speed up your email processing, be more productive.

And remember, live better.

Apps used in this post: Mail, Skitch

Monday, April 15, 2013

Remember, Live Better

A few posts into this blog I ended with a phrase that I have since incorporated as my tag line: and remember, live better. I wanted to explain why this is important and thereby why it is my tag line. I feel like most people in this world are not achieving what they want to. The majority of us are just going through the motions each day not really living productive lives. We have built a culture of mediocrity and debt in America that invigorates a fast satisfaction/low longterm rewards lifestyle.

Most people really do want to live better. I like to think that most people have dreams, most people really do want to achieve those dreams. But, we live in a world that without the kind of intentional living that is taught by Dave Ramsey and Michael Hyatt just sweeps you up into a rat race of daily survival.

So what is the key to achieving your dreams and thriving in this crazy world? You guessed it:

Remember, Live Better

The major problem today is that people simply do not remember to live better. The majority probably think about living better, what they would like to achieve, or how much money they would like to have, or how productive they would like to be, but in the small moments everyday when those dreams are made or destroyed they forget to live in the way to achieve them.

This is why I feel the iPad and iOS generally are going to be so important in productivity. When something is with you nearly all the time it has the ability to help you remember to live better if you want it to. That is the great key: want to live better, and remember to live better. It really does not matter how you do it, I just happen to think apps can help, what matters is that you do it. 

Tell me how you remember to live better in the comments section below or .

And don't forget to share this post on facebook or  it if you found it helpful.

That's all for now.

And remember, live better.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Technology quotes from General Conference

We in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) just finished up our semi-annual general conference this past weekend. It was amazing, we had wonderful talks from the prophet, apostles, and other leaders. In a changing world they help us know what the Lord is saying right now and how we should respond to modern challenges. Technology is one of those modern challenges and since that is what we discuss on this blog I though I would compile all the quotes from this conference about technology.

Elaine S. Dalton
We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father
"Again I renew the call for a return to virtue. Virtue is the strength and power of daughters of God. What would the world be like if virtue—a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards, including chastity —were reinstated in our society as a most highly prized value? If immorality, pornography, and abuse decreased, would there be fewer broken marriages, broken lives, and broken hearts? Would media ennoble and enable rather than objectify and degrade God’s precious daughters? If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement “We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,” how would women be regarded and treated?"

L. Whitney Clayton
Marriage: Watch and Learn
"Loyalty is a form of respect. Prophets teach that successful marriage partners are “fiercely loyal” to each other. They keep their social media use fully worthy in every way. They permit themselves no secret Internet experiences. They freely share with each other their social network passwords. They do not look at the virtual profiles of anyone in any way that might betray the sacred trust of their spouse. They never do or say anything that approaches the appearance of impropriety, either virtually or physically. Watch and learn: terrific marriages are completely respectful, transparent, and loyal."

M. Russell Ballard
“This Is My Work and Glory”
"This new leadership training is now available on the internet at for all to see and experience. You can stream it live from, or you can download it to your computer, smartphone, or tablet devices."

Neil L. Andersen
It's a Miracle

"For those using the Internet and mobile phones, there are new ways to invite others to “come and see.” Let’s make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life.,, Facebook, Twitter—all provide opportunities.
To share the gospel, young members in Boston started several blogs. Those who joined the Church began their learning online, followed by discussions with the missionaries. This experience also helped the youth have greater faith in talking about the gospel in person. One of them said, “This isn’t missionary work. This is missionary fun.”"

Enrique R. Falabella
The Home: The School of Life

"Technology in this day and age allows us to do wonders. How easy it is to send a text message of love and gratitude! Youth do it all the time. I wonder if this and other beautiful practices continue once our home is established. One of the recent text messages I received from my wife reads like this: “A hug like heaven, a kiss like the sun, and an evening like the moon. Happy day, I love you.”
I cannot resist feeling like I am in heaven when I get a message like this."

Rosemary M. Wixom
The Words We Speak
"“Dad … started reading phone messages while the toddler struggled to get his attention by throwing bits of pizza crust. Then the dad re-engaged, facing his child and playing with him. Soon, though, he substituted watching a video on his phone with the toddler until his wife returned.
“… [Dr.] Halfon observed a dimming of the child’s internal light, a lessening of the connection between parent and child.”
The answer to our prayer of how to meet our children’s needs may be to more often technologically disconnect. Precious moments of opportunity to interact and converse with our children dissolve when we are occupied with distractions. Why not choose a time each day to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other? Simply turn everything off. When you do this, your home may seem quiet at first; you may even feel at a loss as to what to do or say. Then, as you give full attention to your children, a conversation will begin, and you can enjoy listening to each other."

Richard G. Scott
For Peace at Home

"You live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. It is difficult for many of my generation to keep up with the possibilities. Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.
For example, many of us have a personal electronic device that fits into our pocket. We are seldom without its company; we may refer to it many times a day. Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society.
Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.
Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need."

I think that as well as the specifics from each talk we can take a general theme from these messages: technology is what we make of it, it can help us be better, or it can make us worse. Which is basically the point of this whole blog, we can be better if we use our technology in productive ways.

If I missed any of the technology quote from general conference please let me know in the comments section. If you like this post than you can share it on Facebook or use a prepopulated  to share on twitter. Thanks for reading.

And remember, live better.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: Adobe Reader

Name: Adobe Reader
Type: PDF reader
Price: Free
Stars: 4

I have a love hate relationship with Adobe. On the one hand you have great little app like this one I'm reviewing here, you also have industry standard programs like photoshop and indesign. On the other hand you have flash player and adobe reader on your computer that need to update practically every other day and always pop up at the most inconvenient times. Needless to say I had some qualms about downloading this app, but I have really liked it so far.
Why did I need it?
In one of my day jobs I work as researcher for BYU's advanced reading class(Student Dev 305). My job is to take the existing reading on paper strategies and apply to reading electronic text books or articles. Many of these strategies require annotating the text directly. Many college student are required to read PDFs of journal articles. Outside of a very basic stripped document reader built into Safari on the iOS there is no default PDF reader on an iPad. If you have iBooks installed you can read them but not annotate them, which is annoying because annotation works great in Preview on my MacBook. So I downloaded this PDF reader to get the annotation ability.
How to do organization 
Of course this is a productivity blog, so organization is important.The app works like a charm. Some people think it is a little simple, but that is ok for me, students come at all different levels. The nice thing is that it will let you organize folders for you PDFs so you can keep track of them. When you are in the documents view, shown below, click edit in the top right corner and you will find this tool bar. Click the +folder icon (red box) and you can make a new folder, like the "readings" folder shown. To organize your documents select the bubble to the left of each (orange arrow). You can then choose from the toolbar options to the right of the +folder icon: copy, move to folder, rename, or delete.

How to annotate
While reading a document if you tap the screen you will get the tool bar below(yellow box). From left to right they are: Send to the adobe cloud(see my article What is the cloud), change view options, comment and annotate, export, and search (see my article Ctrl F on an iPad).

Selecting the comment and annotate option (voice bubble and pen, green arrow) gives us what we want. The toolbar shown below should appear. There are five tools here from left to right: comment, highlight, strikethrough, underline, add text, freehand (blue circle), and add signature. The up arrow will return you to the main toolbar.

Comment, freehand, and add signature will work on any document you can open in Adobe Reader. Highlight, strikethrough, underline, and add text will only work on a document with OCR text. Freehand (blue circle) is my favorite because you can use it wherever you want and you can change the color and size. 

Well I think that's it for Adobe Reader. It's a good free app, check it out here. If you have any question just leave them in the comments below. Don't forget to share this review if you found it helpful. Click here to tweet, and follow me on twitter by clicking the link on the right side of the page.

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

Friday, April 5, 2013

Using parental controls on an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch Part 1

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.

The world is changing, and quickly, as technology evolves. We can use technology to be productive, and at this point most of us need to in our daily work. We can use technology to have fun. But there is a lot of dangerous stuff out there online and even in the walled garden of the iOS ecosystem there are things you would probably rather not see, and really probably would not like your kids seeing. You could try to just keep your kids away from technology, but that would not really teach them how to function in today's world, and regardless chances are if you have an iPad and a child they will meet. Your toddler may even know how to use the iPad better than you do.

Fortunately Apple, unlike android, has built in a set of parental controls that can help keep your child safe online. I wish more people knew about and used these controls because they really are not that difficult to implement, several of them I use even though I don't have kids just to make sure nothing I don't want comes on to my device accidentally. Fortunately setting up these controls is the same for the iPad, the iPhone, and the iPod touch.

Turning Restrictions On
Go to Settings >> General (red box) >> Restrictions (orange arrow).

Click "enable restrictions" (yellow arrow), You will then be asked to select a pass code. Of course this should be a pass code that the child or children who are using the iPad or iPod do not know.

Choosing Restrictions
Now you will be looking at this screen. You now get to choose which options to turn off or on.

  • Safari -- turn this off if you do not want children browsing the web (you may also want to install an alternative web browser such as K-9 for safe searching)
  • Camera -- if you would prefer your children not take a ton of pictures with your iOS device than switch this off
  • FaceTime -- if you don't want your children making video calls to people turn this off
  • iTunes -- if you don't want your children to have access to the iTunes store turn this off (note this does not turn of the Music app, this option is to stop your children from racking up a huge bill buying music)
  • iBookstore -- same as iTunes, you can still have books on the device, but can't buy any new ones while this restriction is on.
  • Installing Apps -- this is an important one to save you money as well, of course this can also be accomplished by not giving your apple password to your child
  • Deleting Apps -- this is especially good if you have a small child using a device who might accidentally delete an app with a lot of data
  • Siri -- you can just turn Siri off here if you don't want anybody using her to do web searches or ask stupid questions
  • Explicit Language -- this will stop Siri from saying bad words, which is nice
Choosing Content
The next section lets you select what content will be allowed on your device (note this is for content purchased from apple's itunes and App Store , if you put some other kind of market place on your device, such as Amazon these restrictions will not effect that, so be aware).

The picture above shows the default settings for content (green box) which is basically to allow everything.

  • Ratings for -- this allows you to choose what country's ratings you would like to use. I like united states
  • Music and Podcasts -- there are only two options for audio content in iTunes, explicit or clean, if you turn explicit off you and your children can only access clean content
  • Movies -- as long as you are set on united states you can choose what rating is the highest you will allow, I like to set it to PG
  • TV Shows -- allows you to choose from any of the TV ratings, I like TV-PG
  • Books -- are like audio content, they are either explicit or not, you can turn of the explicit option
  • Apps -- this allows you to set the app rating that will be allowed on your device, I like 12+
In App Purchases (Blue Arrow)
This is an extremely important setting, many, many apps, especially free ones, contain micro-transactions. These are little purchase in the app, using real world money. Needless to say your kids could rake up a lot of money this way, so do not leave this on.

Require Password
This is another important setting. As you can see it is set to 15 minutes by default. What it does is determine how long you are able to instal apps after putting in you apple password. Lets say you download a game for your child to play, then you hand your iPad to your child. There is a 15 minute window where any app (that's not restricted by rating) can be downloaded without a password input. The only other option is immediately, which will require a password every time someone attempts to download an app regardless. If you have children, especially if they are playing free games bombarded with ads, I suggest that you set it to immediately.

That's all for now folks, I'll be doing another post covering the rest of restriction settings as well as other ways to keep your child safe on an iOS device. In the meantime for a great discussion of children and technology check out this episode of the mac power users podcast.
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Thanks for reading, and remember, live better.