Monday, November 21, 2011

Using Technology for Social Change

One thing I really like about technology is that it has provided me with a way that I can do something about the big problems in the world.  Sure, I'm just one person, but if everyone does something, it adds up to a lot.  That's why I really like  I can take little actions like reading an article and sharing it with other people.  I can sign petitions to help bring attention to all sorts of important issues from human rights to healthier schools, green issues, social justice.

It's really easy to become educated on issues important to you and to take actions.  There is even a section called Click to Donate.  You can choose which charities you want to support by looking at an ad.  The revenue generated from the ad goes right to the charity.  That's how Care 2 has done things like support 16 children through Care International.  Pretty cool, right?  And easy.

The next time you think that one person can't make a difference, think again.  Visit a site like Care and add your voice to others around the world to make a difference.

Care 2 is one of my favourite social change sites.  If there's one that you like, please share it with me in the comments!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review of My Android Tablet: Eee Pad from Asus

The Android attack !I've been using my tablet for a little while now and I thought it was about time that  I share my opinion of it.  If you're looking for a technical review with specs and stuff, this is not it.  This is just me sharing my opinion of my tablet.

The first thing I want to say is that it is not the machine I thought it was.  This is not the Eee Pad's fault.  The tablet was bought for me by someone else on another person's recommendation.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm very grateful to have a computer to work on.  However, had the choice been left to me, I would have gone with something different because I don't need a tablet--I need a computer with internet and a word processing program.  That's it.

I like the tablet.  It's a lot of fun.  As a tablet, it's a great little machine.  The touch screen is great, and I love that I can detach the keyboard when I want to.  Taking the keyboard off is great for reading on the Kindle App or playing Tetris.  It's much easier to read on the tablet screen than it is on my iPhone.  I haven't made much use of the camera feature.  The tablet is too big to carry around to catch candid photos.  That's what my iPhone is for (and to a lesser extent, my camera).

eee Pad Transformer
The apps for the Android tablet are great.  There is a lot of selection in free apps.  I haven't paid for a single app on my tablet.  The free versions of some games are the full versions--Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio are all free.  (Yes, I'm a bit of an Angry Birds fan).  I haven't been able to find Plants vs Zombies yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time before it crosses platforms.  If you're looking for a tablet strictly for games, this is a good machine for you.

Most of the apps I like on my iPhone I was able to find for the Android.  If you can't find the exact app, chances are there is a similar one around.  I have fun changing up the backgrounds on my tablet.  The last one I used had balloons floating on the screen that you could pop.  How cool is that?

The battery life on this tablet is great.  I give it a full charge and I can run it pretty much all day, even if I'm using a lot of apps.  It doesn't take a long time to charge either and I love that it doesn't run "hot" like my old laptop did.

I'm a writer, so like I've said, this isn't the best machine for me.  What I find particularly frustrating is the keyboard.  Since it is so compact, some buttons are too close together.  Touch typing is nearly impossible.  I often find my cursor jumping up to the address bar because I hit an arrow key when I thought I was hitting the space bar.  Things that should be simple, like replying to a tweet using Hootsuite have become arduous tasks.  My presence on Twitter has decreased because it is too darn frustrating to try to tweet using the apps for this tablet.

I like my tablet a lot as a tablet.  As a writing tool, not so much.  I'm not going to go crazy and throw it out a window or anything, but I do wish that there was more information out there that was easily accessible to help me with simple things like "copy and paste".  Seriously, why is it such a hard thing to do on this thing?  I've taken to borrowing my nerd's computer or using the dreaded desktop in the basement to do my writing.

By the way, the instruction booklet that came with the machine was particularly useless.  It had a few screen shots and that was it.

I would really love to hear other opinions on the Android tablet, particularly for the Eee Pad.  If you are using one successfully, please give me some hope!  It can't be this frustrating to use, right?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Telecommuting: As Close as I Get to Nerding Out

Last year, a co-worker asked me why I didn't take advantage of our company's work at home program.  I told them that I wasn't interested.  I needed to be around people and I just couldn't see myself working at home.  Today was my very first day of telecommuting and I loved it!

I guess it really is funny how much difference a year makes.  With my husband being self employed and only one car, I started to think seriously about working at home this summer.  I applied for the position in July, and my first day was today, October 21, so that tells you a lot about how things went, especially since I was the first person in my group to be set up.

I work for a very progressive company, and one of the big initiatives they've had is giving their employees the opportunity to work from home.  It's great for work-life balance.  I was able to take the girls to school this morning and then be there to pick them up as well.  I came home, put my jammies back on (what is the point of working from home if you can't wear your jammies?) and relaxed for a bit before going downstairs to get my computer started.  I had planned on getting some housework done, but that plan was made to be broken.  I had a few technical glitches, but ultimately, I was able to do my job pretty much the same as I do at the office.

It was so great not to have to rush home and rush out to the office this morning.  I didn't have to find something "decent" to wear, pack a lunch, or dig through my purse to find my ID badge.  No fighting traffic, no filling up with gas.  No juggling the car with my husband.  Yeah, I'd say there are lots of plusses for working from home.

Was I lonely?  Not really.  I spent the entire summer working pretty much by myself at the office because no one else was sitting in my area.  If I need help, or want to chat, we have an instant messaging program that we use, or e-mail, so it wasn't too lonely at all.  Besides I was too busy working to notice!

The tecnical aspect was a little daunting because even though it's the same set up I have at the office, there are some differences.  I had to talk to tech support a couple of times, and do some troubleshooting of my own, but it wasn't too bad.

I'm pretty sure my nerd was impressed with my new home office.  He definitely likes not having to drive me to work so he can have the car, and it's nice to know he doesn't have to rush home to get the kids in the afternoon, so he can spend more time with his clients.

After one day of telecommuting, I'm loving it.  I'm so glad I got to be at home before it started snowing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Experimental Television: Untitled Jersey City Project

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Untitled Jersey City Project for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine. (1 page)
When I first received the opportunity to write about Untitled Jersey City Project, I was intrigued.  What on earth was a work-in-progress television drama and how would it work?  How can you experiment with television? Well, I watched the Sneak Peek video, and I was hooked.  I watched all 8 episodes and visited the Web site for more information.
Untitled Jersey City Project is a fast paced drama centered in a "new" Jersey City that hopes to rival Manhattan in the near future.  Sleek office towers are being built across the river from New York City in a rundown section of Jersey City.  New foundations are being poured, but Jersey City's game is unchanged. as each of the characters is bound to discover.  It's got everything a good story needs, a good guy architect, his business partner with questionable ethics who may have committed suicide or been murdered, a sexy reporter trying to uncover the truth, a business mogul client with possible mob ties, his driver who acts as a hired gun but is actually working for the feds, a mysterious couple who are funding the project--are they brother and sister or husband and wife?-- and a union boss.  Corners are being cut, money is being made and lives are at stake.
There's intrigue, corruption, death and sex.  The time lines jump around a lot, so you're kept on your toes.  You think you know what is happening, but then you realize that you were completely wrong.  I really liked it.  Too much television now follows a predictable pattern.  This show is not like that.  In fact, it's not like anything I've seen before.  Don't believe me?  Check out the Sneak Peek video here:

You can find all 8 short-form videos on YouTube.  Be sure to visit the site to learn more about the backgrounds of each character.
I am looking forward to seeing how Untitled Jersey City Project develops and I will definitely be keeping an eye on the site to see how I can be involved in shaping the future of television.  After you watch the video, let me know what you think!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, October 17, 2011

Use Social Networking to Take Part in the Aviva Community Fund Contest

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Aviva Community Fund for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
We all know that social networking is where "they" say "it" is at, but how often do you get a chance to use social networking for the greater good?  The Aviva Community Fund Contest lets you enter your ideas for positive community change on their Facebook page, then you spread the word and get people to vote for your idea.
When you like Aviva Community Fund on Facebook, $1 is donated to Free the Children to support programs for at-risk youth in Canada.  By spreading the word about the contest, not only is your idea getting out there, you're also helping kids in your community and other communities right across Canada, and that's pretty powerful.  For updates on the Contest, you can also Follow @avivacf on Twitter.
Now for the details.  Your idea for creating positive change in your community can be entered until November 30, 2011.  This is also the last day for voting and the winners are announced on January 25, 2012.  Winners are chosen based on the number of votes, so be sure to spread the word.  Use your social networks to help your idea gain momentum!  For an increased chance of winning, get an insurance broker to support your idea.
The winning ideas get to share $1,000,000 to make those ideas reality and to create positive change in their communities.  Past winners include a hockey team for youth with intellectual and physical disabilities in Ottawa, an animal shelter in Yellowknife, and playgrounds for schools right across Canada.  So what are you waiting for?  Submit your idea and start spreading the word!
Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, October 14, 2011

Nerd Fun: Geocaching

About a month ago, I mentioned that I'd talk about geocaching soon.  Sorry it has taken me so long to get to it!    I started geocaching a couple of years ago with my family.  We all love to do it.  It's basically a kind of treasure hunt that you do using a GPS.  You go online to a geocaching Web site, find a cache that you want to look for, download the co-ordinates into your GPS and off you go!

We use  We just have a regular membership, but I'm thinking of asking for an upgraded membership for Christmas this year (Honey, are you reading this??).  We use two different GPS units to find caches.  Our main GPS for geocaching is my iPhone (more about that in a minute).  We also use our Garmin.  To use the Garmin, go into your options and change from driving to walking.  You can search by co-ordinates.

For the iPhone, you can download the app.  The trial version is free and lets you find 3 caches.  After that, you need to buy the app.  It was $9.99 when I bought it and well worth the investment to be able to use my phone.  It lets you access hints, user comments, photos, a compass and you can even upload your logs straight from your phone.

Each geocache is a container that usually includes a log book and writing utensil and sometimes swag.  The rule of geocaching is that if you take something out of the cache, you will put something at least as good back in it.  My kids love to make trades, so I keep little things like keychains and small toys on hand when we cache.  You can log on the site whether you found the cache or not and any other notes you want.

We usually stick to difficulty one or two when we cache with the kids because there is nothing quite like having frustrated kids searching for something.  I also check the terrain difficulty so that I know if the kids can handle the walk or if there is a cliff or something we need to be worried about.

We've done caching on vacation and at home.  It's a great way to find new places in your hometown.  We've found a few parks this way.  We've found a micorcache (a tiny cache), a cache hidden in an ammunition container, caches hidden in trees, under rocks, in all sorts of places.  We've cached in all seasons and weather.  We've seen some rabbits and lots of gophers.

Geocaching is a lot of fun!  It's a great way to get outside as a family and get some fresh air and exercise.  Give it a try!

Head in Tree
Remember I mentioned that we found a cache in a tree? This is my nerd in the tree. He had to go in pretty far to reach it! I'm sure he'll have a comment or two when he finds out I've shared this picture!

Friday, October 7, 2011

My New Toy: Android Tablet

OK, so the other day, we covered how my poor hard-working Dell gave up the ghost.  A writer without a computer, is not a happy camper, especially when she mostly writes Web content.  What's a girl to do?  Actually, nothing.  That's right.  Nothing.  My nerd took care it for me.  I wasn't planning on getting a new computer right away.  I thought I'd wait and use the nerd's laptop when he wasn't using it.  Yeah, that idea didn't go over so well.  I could also have used the desktop computer in the basement, but it's a pain to use and he's got it all tricked out and set up in special ways, so I usually avoid it at all costs.

Here is what he got me:

ASUS Eee Pad It is an ASUS Eee Pad. I've got mixed feelings about it. It's a great gadget, and has a lot of very cool features, but it's very different from my Dell. I know it's a new machine and it's not supposed to be the same, but I'm finding that it has a long learning curve. The keyboard is small, but I love that it is detachable, so that it can be used as a tablet and a computer. I have to be careful when I try to hit the backspace key, because I've been getting the lock key instead, the one that turns the computer screen blank and requires you to log back in.  It gets just a tad frustrating.

I also like that I can use it as a tablet.  It's pretty neat to be able to detach the keyboard and use the tablet part for Kindle reading or playing a game.  I also go from typing on the keyboard to using the touch screen.

What I haven't done yet is word processing.  Considering this is the whole reason I have the Eee Pad, this is not a good thing.  I'm finding it difficult to figure out things like copy and paste and other basic stuff like that.  What I really need is a beginner's course or something like that.  So I'm asking my nerdy readers:  do you use an Android?  How did you learn how to use it?  Are there any Web sites or how-to guides you can recommend?  Let me know because I need help!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Laptop Death: Mourning of a Different Kind

Yes, it's tue.  My trusty Dell laptop died last week.  Kicked the bucket.  Went to the giant motherboard in the sky.  I can admit that I'm being just a tad dramatic, but losing my laptop is a huge thing for me, especially since I'm a writer and I need my computer to function.

Not my laptop, but you get the idea.
It's taken time to get my laptop tweaked exactly how I wanted it.  I knew that computer inside and out.  If something wasn't working right, I'd usually troubleshoot on my own before bringing in my nerd for help.  Lots of times, I was able to fix it myself.  That's because when you've had your laptop for awhile, you know it's rhythms.  You know what problems are likely to occur.  If they've happened often enough, you know how to fix the problem.

I had my Word program set up to do spell check in Canadian Engish for my writing and Amerian English for clients' writing.  I had my desktop pictures set up as pictures of cute dogs so that I could look at them every day and remind my nerd that we need to get a dog (still working on him).  My laptop was worn and comfortable, kind of like that old pair of jeans that is worn in all the right places and fits perfectly.   The "N" was even worn off the key--though I'm not sure why.  I thought the most used letter in the alphabet was "E".  Maybe I use a lot of words with the letter N in them?

I used my nerd's computer a few times, but it was so frustrating to use.  Despite the fact that both laptops are Dells, keys were in different places and I found myself having to use the backspace key a lot.  Plus, I didn't have my LastPass profile on his computer, so I had to log him out of LastPass and hope that I remembered my passwords.

Losing a laptop is something that happens from time to time.  This laptop lasted longer than I might have expected it to (its predecessor met its end when my youngest spilled a glass of water on it).  For a refurbished computer, it sure had a lot of life to it even if the battery no longer held a charge and they no longer make parts for it.  It lived a noble life, and kept at it until it ha nothing left to give.  I'll miss my laptop but the good news is that this means that I'll be getting a new toy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Password Managers: Last Pass

Forget Me Nots
If you're anything like me, you wear multiple hats on any given day. Between running errands, going to work and balancing your life, passwords are easy to forget--especially since every single Web site seems to want you to create a password. Every site's requirements are different, whether they want a non-alpha-numeric character, a capital letter or a 25,000 character password for security.

My nerd had started to use Last Pass some time ago and when I once again locked myself out of an account, I decided it was time to find out more about it. Last Pass is a password manager. Their tag line is "The Last password you'll have to remember". That sounded good to me, so sign me up!

First thing I found was that it was easy to get started. I downloaded Last Pass from their Web site and pretty much let it do it's thing. I chose the option to import my saved passwords from my browser. I've been able to use it on all the browsers that are on my computer (Chrome, IE 9 and Firefox). When I start up, I log into Last Pass. Anytime I go to a Web site that requires a password, if it's not already auto-filled, I just click on the Last Pass icon and choose which user name to use and it auto-fills. When you go to a new site and create a password or enter a password that Last Pass does not have saved, you will receive the options to save password, not now, or never for this site. I don't use Last Pass for things like my PayPal account or my online banking. Pretty much anything else is game.

I find it very helpful to use Last Pass. I spend a lot less time trying to remember which password I created for which site and waiting for password reminder e-mails to be sent to me. Now I just log in once and I'm good for the day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Gadgets: GPS

Manitoba Canada North Star Highway Map (1955)I talk about living with a nerd, but the truth is that I'm a bit of a nerd too.  My favourite gadget is my GPS.  Last summer, there was a point when I was the only driver in the house.  I had to drive my nerd to places I'd never been.  Using Google Maps or Mapquest was fine when I had someone to navigate, but when I didn't it was hard to read my print outs and drive.

I insisted on a GPS.  I was too stressed driving in areas I didn't know that I needed help.  I love my GPS!  My stress levels while driving have gone way down. I still get lost, because whenever it says turn in 700 meters, I am trying to figure out if it's the next street or the one after that.  But, when I go off course, the GPS gets me back on track.

We have a Garmin Nuvi.  I couldn't tell you what model number it is, but it's very easy to use.  We have fun with the Nuvi.  There are several voices that you can choose for your GPS to use.  The kids love "Squirrelly".  For awhile, Angel would only let us use Squirrelly.  She'd talk to Squirrelly like he was a real person.  I was afraid she'd pick up his phrase for recalculating which was "Oh, nuts!" but thankfully, she didn't.  Squirrelly would ask if there were trees nearby, tell us that our car was "swell" and lots of other fun things.

Doctor Nightmare was too scary for Angel, so we had to change from that voice very quickly.  Now we seem to be using an Australian lady's voice and it's OK, but there are no funny or unexpected phrases.  I may have to change it up again soon.

GPS BackupI like that you can also change the Nuvi to give you walking directions.  This is very handy if you want to participate in an activity called geocaching.  More about that another time.

Don't Try to Out-Nerd a Nerd: Tech Support Phone Scams

razor wire on fence - silent sentryNerds On Site recently posted a blog about tech support phone scams. In this scam, someone calls you out of the blue, says that they are your computer person and ask you to give them access to your computer. My nerd had told me about this scam and this afternoon, he was absolutely giddy to tell me that he'd actually gotten the call. Yep, someone called my nerd claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support. 

This is where my darling husband became an evil nerd. He played along with the guy. We have one computer that is connected to the internet, but not part of our network at home. This will sound crazy, but it has no antivirus on it and he actually wants it to get infected so that he can practice cleaning it. Anyway, he granted the guy access to this computer and let him go through his whole spiel while trying not to laugh at the phony information he was being fed. I'm impressed that my husband was able to hold his laughter in while this fake support person told him lie after lie.

He even tried to say that our Microsoft product key had expired. He was all set to get hubby to sign up for a plan to "protect" his computer when hubby finally told him that he wanted nothing to do with their scam and to take him off the list. He immediately disconnected the computer from the session and hung up the phone.
Bortusk Criminal Swag
I asked him why he went to all that trouble when he knew it was not a legitimate phone call and his response was that, "I figured he was wasting my time, so I might as well waste his!" This is not the way to deal with people who are trying to get you to buy in to their scam, and I do not think he had the best idea, even if he did have a lot of fun. Believe me when I say that the computer will be cleaned thoroughly.

It surprises me everyday how many people fall for these types of scams. The fact that these people keep calling shows that it must be lucrative for them. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has said that this computer scam has gone viral across Canada. It's important to be vigilant about who you share your personal information with. For tips on how to recognize fraud and scams, see the Anti-Fraud Centre's tips. Don't be a victim.

I think the best piece of advice on their tip list is "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is".  It reminds me of one of my favourite phrases, "Don't take any wooden nickles."  Don't take things at face value.  Do a little digging, ask some questions.  Legitimate businesses don't have anything to hide.  Scammers do and they will not be forthcoming with information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Chances are that by now you've heard of Twitter. When I first heard about it, my nerd was the one who told me that it was "micro-blogging". Does that not sound completely boring? He was telling me that he was following people and that people were following him and to be honest, the whole thing sounded just a little creepy. I mean who wants someone following their every move? You might be surprised then to know that when it comes to Twitter, I officially know more than the nerd in the family. I went from hating the very idea of Twitter to becoming a Twitter-aholic. I wouldn't say that I'm an expert, but I'm fairly comfortable with Twitter and know my way around fairly well. I started a Twitter account when my blogging mentor advised me to. She advised it as a good way to network and market my writing. I found Twitter to be all that and more. On Twitter, I not only found writers to connect with, I found parents to connect with to talk about our special children. When you think you are the only one dealing with the stress of having a special needs child, it's great to know that you're not alone. I've made some friends through Twitter. I've shared some laughs, found some interesting articles and participated in tweetchats. I'd say that Twitter is an invaluable resource for me . It helps me stay on top of important issues and to be involved in communities and discussions that matter to me. If you don't already follow me on Twitter, please do! I tweet about a lot of topics and share interesting things I find as well. My button is at the top of this article. Over the next while, I'll share some Twitter best practices and cool things that I've learned. If there's something that you want to know about, please tell me by adding a comment to this blog. Ask away!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My New Favourite Game: Plants Vs Zombies

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of an app junkie when it comes to my iPhone.  Truth be told, most of the apps I download are free trial versions, and I delete some of them because there is not enough time in the day for me to play all the games I have on my phone.  I do pay for some, but not many games.

My nerd was playing Plants vs Zombies on his Windows Phone 7 and it sounded cute, so when I saw it on one of my game Web sites in a trial form, I had to try it.  Here's the thing--this game is addicting and fun.  The whole idea is that Zombies are coming to attack your house and you have to defend yourself with--plants.  Sounds corny, right?  Well it is, but it's fun too.  Using peashooters to save humanity is a lot of fun.  Bowling for Zombies on the front lawn with a Wall Nut, is also fun.  Using cherry bombs to blow stuff up?  You betcha!  Lots of fun.

Gamehouse has a free trial version for online play or you can buy a download for Mac or Windows computers.    The trial version takes you through the first two levels which is actually a lot of game play.  Google Chrome also has a trial version of the game in the Chrome Store.  The game is available for a lot of platforms, including Nintendo DS, Apple iPad and iPhone.  I'll probably be adding it to my phone some day, but since I played the first two levels non-stop on my computer, I think I'll wait awhile.

If you liked Angry Birds, you'll probably like Plants vs Zombies. Let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Word from the Nerd

Nerd Talk Since my husband was such a good sport about yesterday's rant about him having no off switch, I've decided to get him to guest post on this blog.  Once a month, or when the spirit moves him, the Nerd will share something Nerdy right here on my blog.  I figured that since my blog is about technology from the sidelines and being married to a Nerd that he would be a great contributor.

Have a question for the Nerd?  Have a question for me?  Let us know and we'll be happy to tackle the topic here!  Keep your eyes open for his first guest post, coming as soon as I can bug him to write it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nerds are from...?

My husband is a nerd.  One of his sisters is a nerd.  His friends are nerds.  I love his nerdiness.  It's endearing and quirky and it's just him.  He's brilliant.  But he doesn't get the little things.
Windows Phone 7
He's got this phone that he loves and he talks about it to everyone.  Did I mention that he talks about it to EVERYONE?  Seriously.  I get that he's super hyped up about how great this piece of technology is, but in the end, it's a phone.  You can use it to make phone calls.  The extra bells and whistles are nice, but I don't really care as long as it can make and receive calls.

As a nerd's wife, I get to hear a lot about his newest or current obsession.  Right now, he's all about the Windows Phone 7.  I've been part of conversations where I hear far more than I ever cared to know about the Windows Phone and all that it does.  I don't care that they are getting people to try it out and blog about their experiences.  I don't care that you can't get viruses on them.  I just don't care.

Here's the thing about my nerd.  There is no off switch.  There needs to be one, for those times when he doesn't recognize the Nod and Smile Technique, or my eyes glazing over or the fact that I'm starting to get angry because I've already mentioned more than once that I've had enough of this conversation.

The biggest turn off. 93/365.I've been married to my nerd for 13 years.  You would think I would have found an off switch by now.  Maybe I just need a remote, one that would let me change channels so that I could access other parts of his brain for short periods of time just to give me a break.

I know I'm griping about something that he can't really help.  He's wired differently.  After all, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Now, I have to wonder where nerds are from....any ideas?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Survey Sites I Recommend

3D Character and Question MarkSomething I didn't mention in my last post about surveys is that when you sign up for a survey site, most sites will ask you to complete some profiles.  Usually they are short surveys that let the company pre-qualify you for surveys.  These save you time because you won't get as many surveys that you don't qualify for.

One site I love is Opinion Outpost.  This site is one where you collect points toward your payouts.  Surveys start at 5 opinion points for 5 minute surveys and go up from there.  Generally, the more time involved, the higher the points offered.  With new reward options, you can cash out from as little as 50 Opinion Points or $5. I find that it does not take me very long to reach a cash out threshold with Opinion Outpost.  I like the survey topics and I have not had any issues with not receiving credits or payments.  In fact, cheques have always come fairly quickly.  Available in US & Canada.

I also like Survey Lion  This one is a Canadian site and pays out in Canadian dollars.  There is no minimum cash out threshold, so any time you complete a survey, you can request a payout.  Each survey is worth a set dollar amount and you always know what it will be before you start.  You don't want to wait when you receive a survey invitation because they go quickly!  I find that I don't receive a lot of survey invitations from Survey Lion, but the ones I do receive are well worth taking.

Next is Canada Talk Now.  As the name implies, it's a Canadian site and payouts are in Canadian dollars.  You earn points for taking surveys, referring friends and when you complete a survey, there is a "slot machine" that gives you a chance to win more points.

And how could I forget NetPanel?  Also a Canadian company.  This one lets you collect Net Points for each survey you attempt. You'll know how many points you will get if you are disqualified and if you are qualified and complete the survey.

There are other good survey sites, but four is a good start.  In the interests of full disclosure, the link for Opinion Outpost is my referral link.  If you would like referrals to the other 3 sites, contact me and provide me with the e-mail address you would like to use and I'll send one to you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How to Earn Online: Surveys My Top 5 Tips

man with a clipboardToday, I thought we'd talk about surveys. I started taking surveys a couple of years ago. There are a few important things to remember before you start taking surveys.

Don't Pay to Participate

If you are asked to pay a fee to join a survey club, or in order to earn money, don't do it. Reputable companies pay you for taking the time to provide them with feedback. If they are asking for money, they are likely not legitimate.

Look for affiliations like Better Business Bureau or membership in an organization like MRA (Marketing Research Association).

Don't Expect to Get Rich From Surveys

Typically, surveys don't pay a lot. Read the terms and conditions before you join a site. While some sites will pay you a dollar amount for each survey completed, many accumulate points that you can cash in for a check, PayPal, charity donation, gift card or other form of reward. Some sites pay automatically and others need 4-6 weeks (sometimes more) to send your reward.

Keep an eye out for survey companies that "retire" your points or allow your points to expire after a certain amount of time. If it takes a long time to accumulate a balance, your points may expire before you can use them!

Decide how much time you are willing to spend answering questions. Most surveys will tell you in advance how long it will take and what the general topic may be and what you will earn. You can judge if it's a good value for you to spend that amount of time answering a survey. Keep in mind that most surveys have screener questions that you have to answer before you get to the survey. Some companies will give you a few points if you are disqualified, but some will not.

Set-Up an E-Mail Address Just for Survey Invites

Unless you enjoy getting lots of spam, it's a good idea to set-up an alternate e-mail address for survey invitation e-mails. I did this when I started and any time I sign up for a newsletter or coupon offer, I use the same e-mail address. I keep my personal e-mail separate from my survey e-mail this way.

Be sure to read the Privacy Policy for the company and check how they will use your information.  If you don't feel comfortable giving them your information, don't do it.

Get a Referral

If you know someone who participates regularly in surveys, ask them to send you a referral link to their favourite sites. Ask your friend for their honest opinion. If they are a real friend, they will only send you referral links for the sites that they like and they earn money from. It benefits you and your friend. You'll know it's a good site with fairly good earning potential and your friend will usually earn a benefit for referring a new member.

Have Fun!

For me, surveys are relaxing and fun. If they are boring, I won't do them. It's not a way to get rich quick, but it's certainly nice to have a little extra pocket money now and then. In a couple of years of doing surveys, I've earned some cash, Chapters Gift Card codes, Amazon Gift Card codes, a couple of PayPal deposits and sweepstakes draw entries. Occasionally, I'm asked to test out a product and provide feedback. I've tested a few different types of products for different survey companies. It's very hush-hush and you are not allowed to tell anyone about the products for various reasons. Later this week, I'll talk about which survey companies I've found to be good and those that I haven't liked as much. I'll give you my honest opinions on them.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Earning Online, Lesson 1 Earn From Things You Are Already Doing

OK, so here's my first lesson in earning online. Let me preface by saying that I'm not an expert. I am not going to promise you that you'll earn thousands of dollars and be debt free by next year. I'm just going to give you a few tips that work for me.

Antique Coke Machine

Lesson 1 is to make the most of what you already do. Here's what I mean. I drink Coke. More than I probably should, but that is besides the point. There's a little Web site called that I use to collect Coke PINs from my bottles. I enter in my PINs online and save them up for stuff. The most recent redemptions I have made have been for three $5 gift cards for McDonalds. I've redeemed some points for music from iTunes too. The best part is that it doesn't cost me anything. I'm already buying the Coke anyway. It takes a couple of seconds to enter some PINs and I choose what I want to redeem.

Something that I do a lot as a writer is research. I search online for information everyday. I don't use Google or Bing to do my searching. I always use Another blogger mentioned how much she was earning on so I decided to give it a try. I signed up under my friends referral code and started searching. You earn SwagBucks for searching, completing offers, participating in polls, taking surveys, completing tasks, entering SwagCodes and for referring new members. I use SwagBucks for my default search engine and earn Bucks just for doing searching I would do anyway.

Here's what I like about SwagBucks:

It's easy.
It's fun. Check out the blog and watch fun videos if you want.
You can donate SwagBucks to a different charity each month.
I was able to donate money to the Red Cross for Japan this March.
I like to play SwagBuck Trivia on Facebook. It's a challenge.
I recently redeemed for 2 x $20 USD Paypal Gift Certificates, just doing stuff I'd be doing online anyway. Not a bad deal.

This is my SwagBucks Banner. If you join, add me as a friend!

Search & Win

Friday, August 19, 2011

Even Nerds Don't Know Everything Nerdy

Wild Sweet Peas

A funny misconception about nerds is that they know everything about computers. This is usually not the case. Most nerds have areas of specialty in which they are well versed. And when I say "well versed", I mean that they could tell you way more than you ever wanted to know about their g

When it comes to things outside their area of expertise, they can be kind of useless. My husband, for example, knows next to nothing about blogging. If someone asks him a question about blogging, he'll tell them to ask me because I am the household expert on blogs. It's not because he couldn't figure blogging out, it's just not his area of expertise and he's not comfortable with doing it, so he's not going to give advice.

Now, I'm a blogger. Blogging has taught me a little (very little) bit of HTML coding and formatting. I've learned everything as I go along and I like it that way. If I need to know how to do something, I'll look it up or ask my nerd to point me in the right direction.

Another thing that I am good at is earning online. I am not an expert money maker, but I do have a few sources of income that provide me with some nice perks. The next few posts are going to cover some different ways to earn online. I'll be honest with you too. I'll let you know what has worked and what hasn't worked. I'll also let you know when I'm using a referral link. If you have questions, ask me!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Real Truth About Nerds

I Love Nerds Hello Kitty Lunch Box

I'm not so sure I should write this post. After all, I kind of like the fact that people get sidetracked by my husband's nerdiness and don't notice things like the fact that he's got gorgeous blue eyes. They see a nerd and they think of a stereotypical, socially inept guy who doesn't shower regularly. Nerds aren't really like that.

Most nerds have a great sense of humour. Really! Why else would they embrace the title of nerd? They are also brilliant. They think faster than they can talk, so sometimes you might feel like you're being dropped into a middle of a conversation. You usually are, because they've been thinking the problem through in their head and just want to bounce an idea off you.

Nerds are passionate. Trust me on this one. Ever ask a Mac nerd his opinion of Windows? Try it, but be prepared to sit and listen to a lengthy (one-sided) discussion on why Mac is better than a PC. If you really want some fun, ask a nerd about Bill Gates. They'll either love him or hate him, and you will definitely know why.

Nerds think outside the box. You have to be creative to be a nerd. They look for different ways to do things. I follow Wil Wheaton on Twitter. One day, he tweeted about how he was now running Windows programs on his Mac. I knew what his reason for doing something like that would be because it's the same reason my nerd does thing. "Because I can." Seriously. They will go out of their way to try something just to see if it really can be done on their machine and if it can't be, they will find a way to do it anyway.

Perhaps it takes a special kind of person to love a nerd, but that's OK. I'm happy to be that kind of person because I love my nerd. He's not perfect, but he is perfect for me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Top 3 Stress Reducing Apps on iPhone

People talk about how stressful it is having so much information at your fingertips all day everyday. They mention that there is no way to step back and decompress. I guess that's true to a point, but I also believe that you can use technology to reduce your stress. Here are my top stress reducing apps for the iPhone:

1. Sleep Machine Lite

This is one of my favourite apps. It's basically a white noise maker to help you sleep. I liked it so much I bought the full version of the app. You can choose up to three sounds to overlap. The sounds are meant to block out other noises and help you to relax. In the full version, you can layer your own sound combinations and you can also set a timer or an alarm. This is great, it even helps my kids to fall asleep when they are wound up!

2. Calendar App

The iPhone has a calendar app right on the home screen. This helps me to reduce stress because I share my calendar with my husband through an exchange server. Any time either one of us books something, we invite the other to the event so that we can both see at a glance when we're busy. This helps to prevent double booking and helps us to juggle our single vehicle.

3. Bubble Wrap

Ever had one of those days when you just want to take out your stress on a sheet of bubble wrap? This app lets you do that! I used to work in a large format retail store and one of the managers came back into the receiving area, grabbed a piece of bubble wrap, threw it on the floor and then jumped up and down on it. My co-workers and I were so surprised, because he was quite mild mannered, but taking out his frustrations on the bubble wrap was a great way to calm down and make us all laugh. This isn't quite as fun, but you get to tap bubbles to your hearts content.

What are your favourite stress reducing iPhone Apps? Let me know, I'm always looking for apps that can help me out.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Streaming Television vs Cable

We started using Netflix a few months ago. At first, it was a little tricky for me to figure out because of the box or as I like to refer to it the "thingy" that connected the TV to Netflix was a pain to figure out. Now I've got it figured out and it's pretty good. The kids really like being able to watch shows like Dora, Franklin and the Backyardigans. I like catching some shows I haven't been able to see like "Hoarders".

I like the service for a few reasons. I can use it on my computer, TV or my phone (but really, who wants to watch a movie on their tiny phone screen?). They add new movies and television shows often, so you're always finding new things. The cost comparison with cable is ridiculous. Netflix is much cheaper and I can always find something to watch. Plus you get a free month to try it out. What's not to like?

Last week, I watched "Licence to Drive" which was a favourite movie of mine way back when...of course, back then, any movie with the two Coreys was a favourite. Tonight we watched "Mrs. Winterbourne". I love the movie. I'm a bit of a sap when it comes to romantic movies. I also love "While You Were Sleeping", but I haven't seen that on Netflix--yet.

We've also found a couple movie gems we'd missed before. "Ramen Girl" with Brittany Murphy was really great, but I have to admit that the Nerd picked it and I am glad that he did. It's fun to give some movies a try. If you don't like them, it's no big deal--you've spent the same amount anyway and you can stop watching. It's not like you've bought a ticket to a show or you own the DVD now.

Do you use a streaming television service? Love it? Hate it?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Internet Browsers

I'm a pretty loyal gal when it comes to things that I use daily. If I like a product, I'll use it all the time. I started using Firefox when I had a Mac because I didn't like Safari very much. I liked that Firefox's mission is about opening the Web to everyone and I even Beta tested the latest version of the browser. I used Firefox almost all the time, but I found that some Web sites didn't work well on it, so I was using Internet Explorer for things that wouldn't work on Firefox and vice versa.

I wasn't going to use Chrome. I refused to at first, but my Nerd touted the benefits of using Chrome and I thought I'd give it a try. Those pages that wouldn't load on one of the other browsers? No problem now! Although I do find it ironic that the pages that I have trouble with are Google sites like Adsense! When I try to run Adsense in the new version, it doesn't load at all. Strange, yes?

I'm finding the add-ons for Chrome are pretty good and very easy to load. I'm using HootSuite for my Twitter account through Chrome and I'm also using it on my iPhone. It's got a lot of great features and it's pretty easy to use. And since I'm an iPhone gal, I also added the Angry Birds app to my Chrome. It's not quite the same as playing it on my phone, but it's still fun. I also made my browser look pretty. Right now I'm using a Kate Spade theme. I'm not usually one for girly stuff, but I liked the colours on the theme :) I like to change it up once in awhile.

I think that as Chrome becomes more popular, the apps will get even better and hopefully the Google Web sites will work a bit better in it.

Google Chrome Ad about deleting stuff

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

iPhone App Chat: Kindle App

I used to say that all I needed my cellular phone for was to make or receive telephone calls. Then my Nerd bought me an iPhone. I had been using his previous Blackberry without data and it was fine for making calls, but it wasn't really my thing. I didn't think I'd like the iPhone either. Boy was I wrong!

I love my phone. I have the iPhone 3G I do use it as a phone from time to time, but I use it far more for other things. Since this is a blog all about Nerdy things, I'll share some of the apps that I find helpful or interesting from time to time.

Right now, I'm stuck in bed sick and I've spent a lot of the evening reading a book on the Kindle app. Not only is the Kindle app free, you can also find lots of free books on the Kindle store. I love books and I had no intention of ever getting an e-reader or reading an e-book, so it surprised me how much I like this app. The way I look at it is that it is a lot cheaper to buy e-books than it is to pay the fines at the library when our books get misplaced (remember, the title of my other blog is Getting Fit, Organized & Healthy--organization is not something that comes easily to me.
This is the book I'm reading right now and I haven't been able to put it down. It's quite good! It's not the type of book I normally read, but I'm drawn in by the main character, Mariette and her narration of her life. I can see why this book is one of Amazon's top sellers.

If you are interested in the Kindle app you'll find it in the app store under Books. It's really easy to download books because it links you right to the Kindle store on Amazon. Choose the books you want and they download the next time you open the app. Easy-peasy. I mean, if I can do it, anyone can!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tips for Living with Your Nerd: Nod and Smile Technique

There comes a point in any technology discussion where you reach your limit--the point where you frankly don't care about the topic any more.  The topic may have gone over your head, or it may just plain bore you silly.  Yet your Nerd continues to go on, drowning you with minutiae.  This is where my favourite technique comes in to play:  the Nod and Smile.

Here's how the Nod and Smile works.  You make eye contact with your Nerd and you give them a little nod.  What you're saying is, "sure, yep, uh-huh"--basically, that you get what they're talking about.  Then you smile.  The smile reassures them that you're on board with the discussion.  Yeah, who am I kidding?  If you do the Nod and Smile right and your Nerd is paying attention, they'll realize that you've lost interest in the conversation and reign themselves in.  It won't happen right away, but over time they'll realize that this look means that you have effectively "checked out" of the conversation and they are in fact talking to themselves.  Sometimes they  just need to get the technobabble out of their system.   If you need a break, suggest they contact one of their Nerdy friends.  Just be aware that when Nerds congregate, the talk continues to get louder and more technical as it goes on.  You could lose your Nerd for some time or be pulled along into the technobabble with them.

The Penguins of Madagascar have a version of this called the Smile and Wave:

Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome to Married to the Nerd

wonka nerds

Technology from the sidelines. That's what I've got for you here, folks. I'm married to a Nerd, but that doesn't mean that I don't know anything about technology. Back in high school, I learned how to program on an completely obsolete system from the UK (they didn't want us to cheat), and I could flow chart with the best of them. I even learned to type on an electric typewriter (I almost failed that class, but that's another story).

Now, I write. You can view my other blogs Special Kid, Special Parent and Getting Fit, Organized & Healthy. I'm a blogger and freelance writer. I write for fun and I sometimes get paid to write. It's a pretty sweet life. One day, I'd love to quit my "real life" job and write full time.

What can you expect to find here?

Well, I'm glad you asked. I'm going to be writing about living with a Nerd. I'll probably share some tips and frustrations of day to day living with a Nerd. I'll share information about technology that I find interesting and whatever else strikes my fancy.

I'm still setting things up here, so there will probably be some tweaks and changes as I get everything the way I want it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

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