Google Productivity Pad: January 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

How to easily find anything on your iPad using Spotlight Search

Spotlight is one of the most under utilized features of iOS. Many people do not even realize it exists, and those that do often forget about it or don't understand how powerful it is. The truth is that it can save you lot of time you would otherwise waste looking for stuff on you device.

  • First make sure it is on for everything that you want to be able to search for. Go to Settings > General > Spotlight Search.
    • A check mark (red box) means that it can be searched for. I leave mine on for everything.
    • You can use the sorting bars (orange box) on the right to choose which order the categories will display in. Just hold on the bars and drag up or down.
  • Next you will need to go to the home screen to access spotlight. Prior to iOS 7 you got to the search screen by swiping to the left most home screen. In iOS 7 that changed to swiping down from near the top of the screen. 
  • Once the search bar and keyboard appear simply type the name of whatever it is you are looking for. In this case I wanted to find the BYU app so I simply typed "BY" into the search bar and it appeared.
  • You then click on whatever result you desire and you are done :)
Note that because using a single finger to scroll up on the iPad will cause spotlight to close, you must you two fingers to scroll through the results list, for some reason this is not the case on the iPhone.

This feature can save you lots of time looking for an app you only use once in a while, or finding the contact you are trying to call, or the song you want to play, or that txt message you can't remember exactly what it said. There are a lot of situations in which this kind of instant search capability can prove very useful.

A tip for bluetooth keyboard users, many keyboards have a search button (for me it is Fn > 4) that will open up the spotlight search, even from an app. Using that keyboard command can save you even more time.

Well that's it for today. I hope this can help you to remember to live better.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Book Review: The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews

Author: Andy Andrews
Stars: 5/5

Now, if you have read my blog in the past you probably know that I am very stingy with my stars. I very rarely give five stars to anything. If I do, it is because I recomended it totally and completely, I think it is among the best in its class, and I believe everyone should read it during their life. Clearly all those things apply to this book, since I have given it 5 stars.

Of course, since I thought very highly of the first Noticer (my review here) you probably are not surprised that I also felt this one was incredible. In this story Andy again encounters Jones, the old man of unknow age and origin with a large share of perspective. The majority of the story revolves around the members of Jones's "parenting class" which is made up of a small group of couples that he has hand picked to join him on the journey.

Jones's primary concern in this book is the lack of standards the world has accepted about raising children. While Jones also teaches a good deal about personal development and buisness, which is similar to the first book, it is the parenting conversations that I think make this a 5 star book. Parenting, and the lack there of, is one of the biggest problems that we currently face. Andy has said elsewhere that "Parenting is the fulcrum society rests upon." I don't know that there could be a truer statement.

One thing I like about Jones is that he doesn't mince words, he tells it like it is. I appreciate that because you don't do anybody any good by not telling them the truth. Jones has the right way of doing this because he loves the people that he talks to. He may say things that bother them, but it's always to make them better in the end.

I don't want to ruin the book for you, but let me just say that the reading is quick and easy, but the thinking is not. I hope you will read this book and leave a comment below to let us all know what you thought. And remember, live better.

You can purchase The Noticer Returns here (affiliate link)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

How to make a website shortcut on the iPad homescreen

There is a really simple iPad trick that not everyone knows that can save you a lot of time. It is the ability to turn any webpage into an icon on the home screen of your iPhone or iPad. Why would you want to do this? Let's say there is a website you always visit from you iOS device, but it is particularly hard to remember the url. Now you could make a bookmark in Safari and access it that way, but giving the website its own icon on the home screen lets you eliminate the step of opening safari and going to your bookmarks to find it.
Doing this is simple, but not obvious at first.
1. Go to the website in Safari
Let's say you want to make a shortcut to your favorite blog, Productivity Pad. Its a great blog, but the url is annoying. The first thing you have to do is go to the blog in Safari. This is the last time you will have to remember the url. Type in to the Safari search bar.

2. Tap the share button (red arrow)

3. Tap "Ad to Home screen" (orange arrow)

4. You will see this menu where you can change the title if you wish, then click the "Add" button in the right hand corner (yellow arrow).

And that is it, the web page will now appear on your last home screen and you can treat it just like an app. Hold down on it till it wiggles and you can move it to different home screens, into a folder, and even into the dock, you can also delete it if you no longer want it.

There you go. Nothing too difficult, you just have to know what to do. That's all for now. And remember, live better.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dvorak, the Metric System, and why we fail to do what's good for us

I grew up at a time when children were taught both handwriting and typing. Needless to say I appreciated one more than the other, but I worked at both of them for years. I had a number of different programs I used to learn to type; some of them were games which required you to type to accomplish certain tasks. They all had two things in common though, they recorded how fast you typed (WPM) and they taught you to type on a keyboard layout known as QWERTY. I am sure you are all familiar with this layout because it is the standard on all American computers and if you were taught typing this is most likely what you were taught to type on. In fact most people have never considered the possibility of any other layout.

But I did, as probably many children do, when they first look at a keyboard and find out the alphabet they have so diligently learned to sing is all mixed up. I don't know who I asked or what I read when I was young about this but I came under the impression that this bizarre layout had been made to enable you to type faster. I remained under this impression until I was reading Mark Hurst's book: Bit Literacy.

In the book Mark explains that QWERTY was designed to slow typists down, not speed them up. Imagine my chagrin at this.  All my life I had been trying to type faster, all the while the instrument I was using was working against me.

WHY!? To keep typists from jamming mechanical typewriters. Now, that seemed like a good and worthy goal to me...and then it occurred to me that I didn't use a typewriter. So, why in the wide world was I typing on the QWERTY layout? The answer is simple:

That is the way everyone has always done it

Can you think of anything more stupid than that?

I can't. We have an entire generation, almost two now, whose productivity has been stifled in one of their most common activities simply because that was the way it had always been done. And the truth is that we do this all the time, I'll point to an example that is probably much more familiar to you:

The Metric System
Now here is something we were all probably taught growing up, but we were never required to use in actual life. The metric system is far superior to the British system of measurement in every way. So, why don't we use it? Because we have to much built up around the British system, all of our infrastructure and our mental processes. We've always done it this way and we are unwilling to change. We will spend plenty of tax payer money teaching children the metric system in school, but we won't spend any of it replacing infrastructure so they can actually use it.

The truth of the matter is that as a society we have decided that we would rather deal with a dull pain constantly than an excruciating pain for a short period of time. We do this even if though it means our children with have to deal with the same chronic pain. These pains have been around so long that society doesn't register them as pains any more, but the costs are still real even when they go unnoticed.

If we really cared about our children, or even ourselves for that matter we would be willing to deal with more intense pain now, in order to eliminate chronic pain. But, we do not, we are lazy and the same school system that teaches us a keyboard layout designed for typewriters, and a metric system we will never be given the chance use, also teaches us to never challenge the status quo.

But it doesn't have to be that way. We may not be able to make society change tomorrow, but we can change individually. We can choose to go through the painful and cleansing process of intentional change toward a desired outcome. We can live better and we can help our children to do the same. We can question and overthrow the status quo. Society is nothing, if not a group of individuals.

So go ahead and do what is good for you, regardless of the way society is built. Society is built for the average person, actually worse, society is built for the lowest common denominator. You don't want to be average, and you certainly don't want to be the lowest common denominator, you want to be extraordinary.

So go ahead, do what's good for you, question the status quo, and remember to live better.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

3 Reasons You Should Manage Email from Your iPhone

Email seems to be the culprit for a lot of wasted time these days. There is no activity more useless than staring at inbox full of emails and doing nothing. Yet so many of us spend our time doing just that. Even if we are actually working on the emails it can end up consuming our day.
Now, everybody knows that I am a fan of inbox zero, and one of the things I use to achieve that state is my iPhone. Managing email from an iPhone has some distinct productivity advantages to it, here I want to talk about three of them.

Trash It:
I consider swipe to delete one of the best improvements ever to email. I guarantee that if you manage your email from your iPhone you will start to delete more email, and that alone will make you more productive. A lot of emails never need to be opened, especially since you can see the first line on your iPhone.
Shorten It
If you write shorter emails you will be more productive, if you manage email on your iPhone you will write shorter emails. This is true simply because of the nature of the medium change from a computer to a phone. With out a keyboard we don't want to write long emails, and our brains are already wired to write short and to the point messages while on our phones.
Do It
If you manage email from your iPhone you will actually get it done because you will be able to use the tiny inbetween times when you are not at your desk to do it. When you are waiting for a meeting to start, or you are in line, or your windows 8 computer decided it had to shut itself down right then, you will be able to get your email taken care of during these little times.
There it is, three reasons you should manage your email on your iPhone. And remember, live better.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

iPad tip: How to Use Hand Gestures on an iPad

My first iOS device was an iPod touch 1st generation. It was a great device even though when I got it they were already several models old. I got a good deal on it and I was very happy with it except for one thing: that year iOS 4 came out and 1st gens could not upgrade. Now this was actually a good thing, as anyone who has used a 2nd gen on iOS 4 could tell you, if it made the 2nd gen that slow and clunky what would it have done to a 1st gen?

And while it was a good thing in hindsight it made me sad at the time because I missed out on one key new feature: multitasking by double clicking the home button. Multitasking on an iOS device gives you the ability to quickly switch between multiple apps without returning to the home screen each time. It is great for people who want to be more productive by shaving seconds off their work flow, because seconds add up over time.

This concept of shaving time of your work is also what is behind hand gestures on the iPad. I am often amazed at how many people don't know how to use hand gestures or don't make use of them. Hand gestures in many ways are the touch screen equivelent to keyboard commands on a computer.

Make sure they are turned on
Go to Settings > General > Multitasking Gestures, make sure the switch is turned to green (on). You may want to turn these off for some apps (like running games or drawing apps).
1 Finger swiped down from the top of the screen
Brings down Notification center. This works on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches running at least iOS 5.

1 Finger swiped up from the bottom of the screen
Brings up Control Center. This works on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches running iOS 7.

1 Finger swiped right from the left side of the screen
Will do different things depending on the app. It may take you back one screen (like in iQtell) or it may pull out a menu (like in Google+). This works on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches running iOS 7. Some apps also have features when you pull from the right of the screen (like FaceBook) but that is less common.

1 Finger swiped down on the home screen
Opens up spotlight in iOS 7.

2 Fingers pinched in or spread out
Usually controls zooming in an app. This works on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches.

4 Fingers swiped up from the bottom of the screen
Opens up multitasking (hurray!) on iPads.

4 Fingers swiped left or right from the edge of the screen
Switchs between open apps without using multitasking on iPads.

5 Fingers pinched together
Takes you to the home screen on iPads.

Well those are the ones I know of, if you know of others please let me know :) I hope these help you. And remember, live better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

New Year's Resolutions: Living Better with an iPad

Hello everyone, I am back from the holiday break. I had a great time with family the past couple weeks celebrating the birth of Christ and the New Year. I hope you did as well.

Well, as you might expect given the fact that I write this blog, I took some time on New Year's Eve with my wife to solidify our goals and resolutions for 2014. I think I have told you in the past how much I use to hate making New Year's resolutions. It is one of those things my mom made me do that I dreaded that I am now extremely grateful was instilled in me. Goals are a painful, but a cleansing process.

Naturally many of the goals I have set for this year have iPad or iPhone components to them, I thought I would share some of these with you and I hope you will share yours in the comments below. I set goals in the four major areas of life: Mental, Physical, Spiritual, Social. I use the Evernote app to write down all my goals for the year and the Lumen Trails app to track them.

  • Typing using Dvorak keyboard layout: for about two years I have been experimenting with using the more efficient keyboard layout known as Dvorak instead of the traditional Qwerty. This year I have finally decided to use it in all of my personal typing. On iOS you cannot with the touch keyboard to Dvorak so this has held me back, for Christmas I got a bluetooth keyboard and case(which I will blog about soon) from my brother. External keyboards can be set to Dvorak so now I am good to go on the iPad mini.
  • Reading 52 books: I sometimes read books on my iPad using several different apps. I also use the Goodreads app to track what I am reading and what I want to read.
  • Losing some weight: like many people this time of year I am involved in a biggest loser competition with my family. For this I will continue using the Gorilla Workout app, the app My Fitness Pal to track myself, and the podcast app while running.
  • Scripture Memorization: I will be using the app LDS Memory: Scripture Mastery to memorize scriptures.
  • Reading the New Testament: I will be using the Bible Gateway app to read side by side translations of the New Testament.
  • Journal: I finally completed an entire year of journaling without missing a day in 2013 and now I hope to make my journal writing more meaningful using the GridDiary app.
  • I hope to use twitter more this year and I will be using the official Twitter app to do so for now. But I am open to other app suggestions if you have them.
That is not all of my goals this year, but it is most of the ones that involve iOS. Please share your goals and apps for 2014 with me in the comments or on twitter (@halduauthor). I think it is going to be a great year so long as we remember to live better.