Google Productivity Pad: October 2014

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to delete apps on an iPad or iPhone

So you downloaded an app that looked cool, but it turned out to be pretty dumb or it crashed all the time, so you want to get rid of it. How do you do it?

The process is actually very simple:

  1. Go to the home screen
  2. Hold down on an app until they all start to wiggle and an "x" button appears in each corner
  3. Tap the "x" button on the app you don't want
  4. It will ask if you are sure? Choose yes. 
  5. Taadaa! The app is now deleted :)
Be aware that when you delete an app all of its data stored on the device will be deleted as well, so make sure there isn't anything important inside of it before you do. Apps like gmail, Facebook, and Twitter all store their data on cloud servers far away so when you delete the apps you data is actually still there, that is why you can visit those sites in web browsers and see everything you could see from the app. 

Exceptions: the only exceptions are apps that come preinstalled on your iPhone or iPad from Apple (Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messages, iTunes, Weather, Tips, Safari, etc, etc). We call these the stock apps and you cannot delete them because Apple does not make that an option, mostly because many of them have functions necessary to your phone running correctly.

An alternative and more complicated way to do this is to go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage. Then click on the app you want to delete, you will then be taken to a summary screen of that app where you will have an "Delete App" option.

The reason you may sometimes want to use this approach is because you might want to see which apps are hogging the most space on your iPhone or iPad. For example when I go I find that there are several graphic intensive games that hog my space I hardly if ever play them. If I were tight up for space I would know I could delete these and quickly get some back.

And there you have it, you can now delete apps from you iPad or iPhone. Hope you have a great weekend, and remember, live better. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to create keyboard shortcuts on an iPhone or iPad

Do you have to type the same thing over and over again? Maybe it's your username, maybe it's a question you get asked all the time, maybe it's your birth date, maybe it's a hashtag. Whatever it is, it can be super annoying to have to type out all the letters and words you need every time you need them. It is like having a typewriter all over again! (by the way there is an app for that if you really feel nostalgic about typewriters).

Fortunately there is a way to solve this problem and it is built directly into iOS, no app required. It is called keyboard shortcuts. Now this can be a little confusing because we normally think of keyboard shortcuts on the computer as being things like "cntrl-f" or "cmmd-z" to cause certain actions to occur. On iOS it is different. A keyboard short cut here means that you can type in a few code letters and iOS will ask if you want to replace them with some predetermined text.

Let's say that I have to type my consulting website's url all the time, and I don't want to do that anymore, so I make the shortcut bcom expand to the text I show how to do this in the gif below:

Then every time I am typing and I need to put in my url I can save time by just typing out bcom, my iOS device will then suggest in the same way that it does with autocorrect. Isn't that awesome? Notice in the gif below how it follows the capitalization of what you actually type, so you want to watch out for that.

And that is really all their is to it. You can add as many of these as you want, and they can even be quite long, so you could put a whole email template in here if you chose and get it all typed with just a few letters. Be sure to make you shortcuts something that you wouldn't normally type naturally so you don't accidentally trigger them.

There you have it. Go create some keyboard shortcuts to make your life easier, and remember, live better.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Technology Quotes from October 2014 LDS General Conference

Every six months after the LDS Church's General Conference, I compile together all the quotes I can find that talk about technology or social media. As a member of the Church I feel it is important to know what the leaders of the Church are saying about technology. My philosophy is, why have Prophets and Apostles, if you won't listen to them?

This conference in general had the tone of raising a warning voice to the members of the Church, there was much encouragement to do better, and to be better. And that trend was certainly present in the quotes about technology and media. The Church embraces technology and media for the good it can, but the leaders who see afar off also raise a warning voice of the potential pitfalls.

I hope you find this compilation useful, and please let me know in the comments or on twitter if there are any quotes that I missed.

 President Packer: "This great conference is being broadcast in 94 languages by satellite to 102 countries but is also available on the Internet to every nation where the Church is present. We have over 3,000 stakes. Our full-time missionary force exceeds 88,000, and total Church membership has passed 15 million. These numbers serve as evidence that the “stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands” continues to roll forth and will eventually fill “the whole earth” (D&C 65:2)." (The Reason for Our Hope)

 President Uchtdorf: "Suppose you were able to travel back in time and have a conversation with people who lived a thousand or even a hundred years ago. Imagine trying to describe to them some of the modern technologies that you and I take for granted today. For example, what might these people think of us if we told them stories of jumbo jets, microwave ovens, handheld devices that contain vast digital libraries, and videos of our grandchildren that we instantly share with millions of people around the world?

Some might believe us. Most would ridicule, oppose, or perhaps even seek to silence or harm us. Some might attempt to apply logic, reason, and facts as they know them to show that we are misguided, foolish, or even dangerous. They might condemn us for attempting to mislead others.

But of course, these people would be completely mistaken. They might be well-meaning and sincere. They might feel absolutely positive of their opinion. But they simply would not be able to see clearly because they had not yet received the more complete light of truth." (Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth)

 Elder Andersen: "We might remind the sincere inquirer that Internet information does not have a “truth” filter. Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true." (Joseph Smith)

 Elder Perry: "That old enemy of all mankind has found as many devices as he can think of to scatter tares far and wide. He has found ways to have them penetrate even the sanctity of our own homes. The wicked and worldly ways have become so widespread there seems to be no real way of weeding them out. They come by wire and through the air into the very devices we have developed to educate and entertain us. The wheat and the tares have grown close together. A steward managing the field must, with all his or her power, nourish that which is good and make it so strong and beautiful the tares will have no appeal either to the eye or the ear. How blessed are we as members of the Lord’s Church to have the precious gospel of our Lord and Savior as a foundation on which we can build our lives." (Finding Lasting Peace and Building Eternal Families)

 Elder Cook: "I recently met a fine teenage young man. His goals were to go on a mission, obtain an education, marry in the temple, and have a faithful happy family. I was very pleased with his goals. But during further conversation, it became evident that his conduct and the choices he was making were not consistent with his goals. I felt he genuinely wanted to go on a mission and was avoiding serious transgressions that would prohibit a mission, but his day-to-day conduct was not preparing him for the physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual challenges he would face.7 He had not learned to work hard. He was not serious about school or seminary. He attended church, but he had not read the Book of Mormon. He was spending a large amount of time on video games and social media. He seemed to think that showing up for his mission would be sufficient. Young men, please recommit to worthy conduct and serious preparation to be emissaries of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

A wonderful example of the need for moderation, balance, and wisdom is the use of the Internet. It can be used to do missionary outreach, to assist with priesthood responsibilities, to find precious ancestors for sacred temple ordinances, and much more. The potential for good is enormous. We also know that it can transmit much that is evil, including pornography, digital cruelty,8 and anonymous yakking. It can also perpetuate foolishness. As Brother Randall L. Ridd poignantly taught at the last general conference, speaking of the Internet, “You can get caught up in endless loops of triviality that waste your time and degrade your potential.”

Distractions and opposition to righteousness are not just on the Internet; they are everywhere. They affect not just the youth but all of us. We live in a world that is literally in commotion. We are surrounded by obsessive portrayals of “fun and games” and immoral and dysfunctional lives. These are presented as normal conduct in much of the media.

Elder David A. Bednar recently cautioned members to be authentic in the use of social media. A prominent thought leader, Arthur C. Brooks, has emphasized this point. He observes that when using social media, we tend to broadcast the smiling details of our lives but not the hard times at school or work. We portray an incomplete life—sometimes in a self-aggrandizing or fake way. We share this life, and then we consume the “almost exclusively … fake lives of [our] social media ‘friends.’” Brooks asserts, “How could it not make you feel worse to spend part of your time pretending to be happier than you are, and the other part of your time seeing how much happier others seem to be than you?”

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”" (Choose Wisely)

 Elder Scott: "Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!" (Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority)

 Sister Marriott: "Sisters, you strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ. I have watched your examples, heard your testimonies, and felt of your faith from Brazil to Botswana! You carry a circle of influence with you wherever you go. It is felt by the people around you—from your family to the contacts in your cell phone and from your friends on social media to those seated next to you tonight. I agree with Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, who wrote, “You … are vibrant and enthusiastic beacons in an ever-darkening world as you show, through the way you live your lives, that the gospel is a joyful message." (Sharing Your Light)

 President Uchtdorf: ""We need to accept that the commandments of God aren’t just a long list of good ideas. They aren’t “life hacks” from an Internet blog or motivational quotes from a Pinterest board. They are divine counsel, based on eternal truths, given to bring “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” (Living the Gospel Joyful)

"Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair, and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pinterest? Do you think He wants you to worry or get depressed if some un-friend or un-follow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe?" (Living the Gospel Joyful)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Boundaries, the Pomodoro Technique, and Productivity

Warning: I am writing about a topic that I have yet to master, as such these are musings, not dogma.

Some people are more productive than others. I think we can take that as fact.

Sometimes each of us is more productive than other times. I think we can take that as fact too.

Taking these two facts together I think they beg the question: Why?

Why is that one guy a straight A student, on the basketball team, runs his own business after school, and volunteers at the hospital? And all I can manage is to be a B-average student, period?

Why was I am able to do so much last month when I had three projects due, my sister was getting married, and I was helping organize the 5k? And this month I can barely stay on top of my reading homework?

I don't know that everybody faces these questions, but I know I do. I don't really have the answers yet, but I am forming some ideas. These ideas center around the idea of boundaries. Boundaries are those pesky things that have troubled mankind since the beginning. The interplay between structure and freedom has been the quest of philosophers for millennia, and is at the very heart of the American Paradox, of which I have written elsewhere.

But today I don't want to attempt to deal with the large questions, I would rather just think about it on a practical level.

Parkinson's Law:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." Cyril Parkinson

I'm sure most of you are already familiar with this idea. Why will work do this? I actually have no idea, but it must have something to do with us as humans, since work has no volition in and of itself. I might better read, "humans will take as much time to do work as is available for its completion."

What we find then is that really effective people are often good at setting deadlines for themselves, arbitrary of the deadlines that are actually in place regarding the task. Super effective people seem to take it one step further and have the ability to set micro-deadlines and make themselves believe them.

One such system of setting micro deadlines is the Pomodoro technique, which I reviewed a watch app for here recently. The system of 25 minutes on task, 5 minutes on break, creates micro-deadlines by which you know you will stop working on the project. It seems to work even better if you alternate tasks every 30 minutes, so you know you will not be getting back to that project for a while.

I find that when I can get myself to apply Pomodoro I feel more productive. Now I am not 100% sure how to measure that empirically, but feeling that way is at least half the battle. It is sometimes just difficult to get myself to actually do the Pomodoro, because my lazy self knows it will have to work once I do.

So here is my challenge to you, go try the Pomodoro technique to set yourself some micro-deadlines, then come back here and report to me how productive you feel. I think it will help you live better.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Meet the Mormons, Advanced Review

I was recently privileged to attend an advanced screening of the new movie Meet the Mormons. This is the first theatrically released film ever produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (otherwise known as the Mormons). It is a documentary detailing the lives of six ordinary members of the Church. Its purpose is to help the world know what Mormons are really like. I'll give my spoiler free feelings first and then my spoiler thoughts after.

Title: Meet the Mormons
Stars: 4
Type: Documentary

My feeling over all is that the movie is GREAT. So why four stars? Because it was awesome, and 5 stars are hard to come by. You can read my star policy here.

The movie was fast paced because they have to cover 6 lives in just over an hour of movie time. The stories that the tell are diverse, and all of them are amazing. I do not think you will feel board at any time during this film if you love to learn about great people. Learning from great people is something I encourage here at ProductivityPad.

The film is very diverse in its setting. I think a clear purpose was to help get rid of the stereotype that all Mormons live in Utah. Two of the six individuals live outside the U.S., and of the four who do live in U.S. only one is lives in Utah. Out of the six only two are ethnically white.

The movie is not heavy on the doctrine of the Church, which is good because the purpose of this film is not so much to show what we as Mormons believe, but more about who we are as people.

As a piece of cinematography I was impressed with the film, particularly considering the small number of people who worked on it. Documenting six different lives in six different locations is a lot of filming.

If you would like to see the film go check out the locations page to see if it is playing near you. And if it isn't you can request it in your city. If they get enough requests from a location they will come to it. And remember that all proceeds from this film go to the Red Cross, the Church receives no commercial benefit from it.

Spoilers: if you don't want to know anything about the stories before seeing the film stop here.

Alright so I will now talk about my least favorite part of the film which happens to be the very beginning. The opening and ending of the film is a girl in New York City. She is not one of the Mormons whose story the film tells, but she serves as the frame of the film over all. I found her to be annoying and I'm glad they did not have her do much narration during the actual stories.

My least favorite part was easy to choose, but my favorite part was a harder choice because so much of the film was good. Each story has a "meet the" title followed a descriptor of the person they highlight. Probably the most touching story for me personally was the Missionary Mom.

4 out of the 6 individuals were not born in the church but converted later in life, and the Missionary Mom is one of those. This means that not only do they talk about her sending her son on a mission but they also talk quite a bit about her own conversion to the gospel. Having been a missionary myself and having worked with people in very similar situations I found this story really struck home for me.

You are set up in the beginning of that story to think that amidst all these other stories you are about to get the tale of some regular Mormons in Utah, sending their son on a mission. But that is just what they want you to think before they delve into her back story as a young single mom on the streets having fled her abusive addict mother. The story of her rescue is an amazing one of missionary work and faith. And it is one of the places you can clearly see the ripple effect of the choices we make.

Well I will stop spoiling the movie for you now. But it was great and I hope you have the chance to go see it. It doesn't matter who you are I think you will be inspired by these stories.

I think seeing the good others do inspires us to remember, to live better.