Monday, December 17, 2012

A Nerdy Thing Happened at the Mall Last Week

Friday night, we took the kids to the local mall for some shopping.  Both girls wanted to buy a gift for the other, so it was supposed to be a short trip.  As we were walking down the main hallway of the mall, what did we spot but a Windows Phone booth.  You think I'm kidding, right?  How is it possible that they have a booth demonstrating the Windows Phone in the mall and my Nerd is the biggest Windows Phone Nerd of them all?  I'm not sure, but it really happened!

The girls both rolled their eyes when they saw Daddy make a bee-line right for the first guy he saw in a Windows Phone shirt.  He whipped out his phone and they started talking.  The guy must have felt sorry for me because he pointed me over to the counter where a couple of ladies were ready to give me a polish.  Normally, I shy away from that kind of thing, but hey, it was a chance to sit down while he was talking and get my nails polished for free, so I took it!

Normally while you get your nails polished, they tell you all about the phone.  I'd explained that my husband was the one chatting with the demonstrated, so we talked about other things while she did my nails.  My little one also had her nails done too.  Best part?  We got to keep the bottles of polish.  They were tiny, but that's OK!  The polish came in a variety of colours, all made exclusively for Windows Phone to match the colours of the tiles on the phone.  So, my nails are a greenish/aqua colour and the little one's are a rosy pink.

Windows Phone Nail Polish
Here are our bottles of polish.  Pretty!
When we finished with our polishes, he was still talking and basically teaching the demonstrators some tips and tricks.  We left him there and went on our way to Tim Horton's for the a treat.  He eventually caught up to us and we continued with the reason we went to the mall.

He told me he walked past their later when he was helping our oldest daughter pick out a gift for our youngest, and the guys wanted him to talk some more.  I'm pleased to say that he showed restraint and did not get pulled back in.  He would have had a very upset little girl on his hands if he had!

What do you think of this kind of campaign for Windows Phone?  Do you think it makes a difference in getting their product out there?   I feel a little like they are saying that women will like the phone because it's pretty, kind of like we won't get how to use it like a guy will.  The fact that I can match my live tiles to my nail polish colour really is not a selling point for me.  I appreciated having my nails done, but I will buy a phone based on how it works for me.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Streaming Music on iPhones

I love my music !It's been awhile since I've talked about any apps, so I thought we'd talk about some music streaming apps.  My job allows me to work from home, and when I don't have to talk on the phone, I can listen to music (this is true in the office as well, but I need earphones to do it there--and not allowed to use my phone!). Sometimes I get tired of my playlist, and that's where streaming music comes in.



I've been using Jango for some time. I was using online before I even had my iPhone. I like Jango because you can create stations based on music you like. You add a few artists you like and it will find others like them. With your personal stations, you can give songs a thumb up for more play, or a thumb down to remove a song from your rotation. You can also choose one of Jango's many stations broken down by categories, decades, styles, you name it. You have the opportunity to listen to new artists with similar styles and vote on whether you want to hear more from them or not.


 This week, I was scrolling through the app store and found a new (to me) app called Songza. It sounded really cool, so I downloaded it and found out it is really cool! You start at the concierge with the day and time listed and you have 6 musical choices. Tonight I have "Bedtime", "Brand New Music", "Looking at Pictures of your Ex", "Love and Romance", "The Holidays", and "Unwinding". I went with Unwinding. You then have 6 more choices to help to choose the mood of the music you'll be listening to, then you can choose between 3 stations. If you scroll down, you can find similar soundtracks too. Tonight, I chose 80s Memories, and 80s Slow Dance. It's a great mix of 80s love songs and it's really mellow. Yes, I love 80s music, and I know that makes me a completely different kind of nerd than the one I married.


80s Radio cassette playerWhat I like about Songza is that you have a lot of choice. Every day or time of day has different choices listed to let you choose new stations. Stations that you've listened to before are stored, so if you want to listen to them again, no problem! I use the free versions of both of these apps. Jango has ads sometimes, but I usually only hear them when I skip a song. I could connect with my Facebook account to get rid of the ads, but they don't bother me enough to make me take that step.


Something important to know about streaming music: it uses a lot of data! You're streaming music over the internet, so unless you have unlimited data, you'll only want to use it where you have access to wi-fi. This is why I only stream music when I'm at home. If I used it anywhere else, my phone bill would be through the roof! And let's face it, we pay way too much for data packages in Canada as it is, I'm not giving my carrier any more money than I have to!

So, let me know, which apps do you like for streaming music? I'm always up to try a new one!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When Technology Goes Wrong--Fun with Handsfree

Nohands

As you've probably noticed, I love to give my Nerd a hard time about his phone.  He's a Windows Phone guy and people have asked if he works for Microsoft because he talks about his phone that much.  Of course, when something on his phone doesn't work quite right, I am quick to remind him that I don't have that problem with my iPhone!

A couple of weeks ago, he was using the hands free voice recognition software on his phone to text his sister.  The kids were in room too (you'll see why that is an important piece of information in a moment).  Usually, he'll say, "Text so and so" and his phone will say, "Texting so and so, say your message."  This time, when he said, "Text my sister", for some reason, maybe some ambient noise in the room, the phone didn't recognize what he said.  Instead, it decided to do a search for what it 'heard', so it said, "Searching for three-way sex, my sister".  No really, that is what it said--out loud, with the kids in the room.  I nearly fell over laughing.  It was so funny to see the look on his face and watch him jump to cancel the voice program.  Our youngest didn't get what was so funny, but that didn't stop her from laughing.  Our 10 year old was concerned that the phone used a "bad word" about her aunt.  I still laugh over it now because it was so unexpected and I don't think I've seen my Nerd get so embarrassed about something.  He told me I couldn't Facebook it, but he didn't say I couldn't blog about it!

The very next day, the girls and I were coming home from church with my parents in my dad's van.  Dad had a golf game scheduled with his friend and wanted to let him know we'd be home soon, so he turned on his bluetooth handsfree device.  My dad isn't technically inclined, so I was impressed that he had bluetooth and knew how to use it.  He kept telling it who to call, but it kept coming up with different people in dad's phone book.  Every time it did, we all started laughing, so poor dad got frustrated.  I eventually used his phone to dial the number for him so that he could talk using his bluetooth, but his friend wasn't home after all of that effort and dad was able to call him when we got home.

Handsfree devices and voice commands are supposed to make it easier to communicate, but I find that they end up being more annoying than anything else.  We have a Blue Ant something like this in our car:




It's handy, but I only use it when I have to because to get it to dial out, you have to say, "Blue Ant, speak to me." You have to say it loudly to get it to respond, so if you have the windows down, you get some funny looks if you are alone in the car. It's not a bad little device, but I prefer dialling the phone, talking, hanging up and then driving. When I used to work late, I liked having handsfree so that I could talk to my Nerd while I was driving home, but now that I work from home, I don't drive as much, so I don't use it at all. I leave it to the Nerd instead.

Friday, November 2, 2012

You Know You're Married to a Nerd When...You Agree to go to a Windows 8 Launch Party

Yes, I really agreed to go to a Windows 8 launch party.  For some reason, I thought it would be a fun night out with grown up conversation.  When you work at home, you tend to jump at any opportunity to be outside of the house, especially if you can spend time with grown ups.

It was also a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my Nerd.  We spent a lot of time talking on the way there (long drive).  We had some fun trying to score a parking spot at the venue and when we got there, I was relieved to see another Nerd couple that we have met before, so I knew there was someone I could talk to.

The event was in the back room of a kind of sports bar, you know, one of those places that you enter and the smell takes you back to your college days.  That's what it was like.  It wasn't a dive by any means, there were families eating dinner there too.

Anyway, the event was fairly low key.  There were munchies and cupcakes available to snack on before the presentations.  The first presentation was just my speed.  A little techie, but not too over the top.  The invitation said that you didn't have to be technically inclined, so it seemed OK at first.  It was about Windows 8 Consumer edition.  I could appreciate what they were discussing because we've been using Windows 8 for sometime.  It was interesting to see more of the background of Windows 8 and how it could work for me.
Cupcake
This may have been my favourite part of the night.  Yes, the label was edible.

I'm sorry to say that the second and third presentations were very much over my head.  There was too much technical information and I was completely bored.  I was glad to have the chance to catch up with the other Nerd wife while they continued.  Don't worry, we were tucked into a corner and whispered quietly.  Not something I would normally do at an event, but I was completely out of my depths with the conversation.  It was like the speaker suddenly started talking in another language.

What I can tell you is that Microsoft is very excited about Windows 8 and the new Surface computer.  I saw one and it looked pretty cool.  I didn't have the interest to stand in line to get up close and touch it.  After the talks, I lost my Nerd for a bit because he was networking, chatting with people about how great his Windows Phone is.  So, I rounded him up and we went home.

I'm not saying I hated the event, but I won't be going to another party like this with him.  I discovered that when they say you don't need to be techie, they are wrong.  It's just not for me.  And now my Nerd owes me a date to something that I want to do.  I'm thinking it's been a long time since I've been to the ballet!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pinterest

It took me some time to finally look into Pinterest, but I got there. If you are like me, you might wonder what Pinterest actually is. Well, it's basically an online scrapbook or pin board. You find things you like online and "pin" them to your board. You can organize your board any way you want to. You can add your own pins or repin others.  Many people use it to plan an event like a wedding or for sharing funny stuff.  There are lots of creative ideas and recipes to keep you entertained for hours.

I've found myself pinning at night before I go to bed.  I like to randomly view pins and see where they'll take me.  It can be quite an adventure!

So, I'm on Pinterest and you can Follow Me on Pinterest. I've got a board dedicated to Nerdy Stuff. This is where you'll find other parts of my Nerd interests like Big Bang Theory, Star Wars, Psych and generally nerdy stuff. My other boards are about other things I find interesting like books and words, inspirational quotes, vegan recipes, Special Parenting (this board is related to my other blog, Special Kid, Special Parent, specifically Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and other topics. If you are interested, please follow me there.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Earning Online with Swagbucks

Awhile ago, I talked about earning online from what you're already doing and I mentioned Swagbucks. More of my friends have been asking me about some of the ways I earn online. Since I'm going to explain to them how the programs I use work and what works for me, I thought I'd make a post out of it and share.

I signed up for Swagbucks through a friend. It was someone I "knew" online only, and I trusted her opinion. When you sign up through a referral link, the person who referred you earns matching Swagbucks for what you earn through searching up to the first 1000 SB. So if you refer someone, they can contribute to your earnings over time.

How Swagbucks Works: You earn Swagbucks currency for doing different things like searching, playing games, entering codes. You can cash in your Swagbucks for gift cards, Paypal, merchandise, and even make donations of your Swagbucks to charities. There is a different charity every month.

It's fairly easy to rack up enough SB to cash in. I've been averaging 1 $5.00 Amazon.ca gift certificate every 2-3 weeks (the $5 gift card is 450 SB and a better value than the $25). In total to date, I've redeemed $30 in Paypal, $60 in amazon.ca and a Carlos Delgado trading card. Not bad. I don't put in a lot of effort and I've gotten a lot out of it.

How I earn Swagbucks: There are a couple of easy ways to earn some SB every day. First, do the daily poll, 1 SB. Then go for NOSO (no obligation special offer). All you have to do is click through the offers and then enter the captcha you are shown. Easy peasy. That's 3 SB and we haven't done anything much.

I try to spread my searching out through the day. I enter a search term I'm interested in and scroll through the results. The sneaky thing is that you won't always find the SB on the first page. Sometimes you have to dig deeper and really go through the results. I find I earn on searches 3-4 times a day.

Swagbucks TV is another easy one. Watch 10 short videos and earn 3 SB. I keep my computer muted and play the videos while I do other things.

Swagbucks Games are fairly easy and can be fun. I usually earn SB on the second game I play, but sometimes it takes more. Usually earn 2 SB at a time.

If you have the opportunity to do a Think Action Survey on your homepage, it's a great way to get 60 SB. I have to be honest and mention that there have been a couple of times when I was not awarded the SB for the surveys. I contacted support and was told that they could not be issued retroactively. I've tried it again since then and got my SB twice, but not the last time. It's a great amount of SB if you get them, but I won't be wasting my time on them any more on the chance I "might" get my SB.

Trusted Surveys requires a bit more work. You'll need to complete your profiles and then you may or may not get survey invites. If you attempt a survey but don't qualify, you'll earn 1 SB to a max of 5/day.

You can also complete offers, take surveys and earn through Bonus Codes or doing tasks. I wasn't a big earner until they had a bonus offer during March Madness. Every day there was an earning goal. If you hit the target, you would earn bonus SB at the end of the promotion. They have been running similar offers quite regularly since then.

I also follow SB on Facebook and Twitter. They'll let you know when there is a bonus code that you can use to earn more SB (Bonus codes go in the "gimme box" and are case sensitive). Sometimes you'll find bonuses in the blog too. Bonus codes don't last long, so you have to be quick!

You can also earn SB for referring new users. In fact, if you sign up through the links provided here, you'll be my referral which means that I'll earn matching SB on your searches up to a total of 1000 SB. (Consider this my disclosure).

I've been redeeming mostly for amazon.ca certificates and here's my trick. When I make a purchase on amazon.ca, I click to the site through www.airmilesshops.ca so that I can earn miles on my purchases as well. If there's a bonus miles offer on, even better. Amazon is not just books either. I've purchased kitchen items and decor for my bathroom too. I've got a wish list that I use to keep track of things I'm interested in.

So friends, that's Swagbucks in a nutshell.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Technology for Change: Click to Give

Awhile ago, I talked about using technology for social change.  I'm a strong believer in the concept that I can't do everything, but I can do something.  Even the smallest contributions can have a big impact.  As I've been surfing around the Internet, I have recently found a new site that I'd like to draw your attention to.  It's called Click to Give.  It's similar to the click to donate part of Care2.com.  Basically, everyday, you can click on a cause that you support.  The advertising money from your click will go to a specific charity.  You can view information on each cause they support and the charities they donate to.  It takes just seconds to click on all 6 of their causes.

In addition, every click you make earns you points.  When you have enough points, you can redeem them for a reward.  Your points can go toward any of the 6 charities, or even all of them, or you can be entered in a draw for a gift basket.

The bottom line is that it's a super easy way to give to causes that matter to you.  It takes very little time and no money, but each click helps to fund the important work of these charities.  It's a no brainer, so what are you waiting for?  Start clicking today!

Monday, April 30, 2012

My Top 10 You Know You're Married to a Nerd When...

In case you weren't sure if you are married to a nerd, here's my top 10 ways to tell.  My nerd is male, so all my references are to a male nerd, but women can definitely be nerds too!


1.  You never have to do an update on your computer or run a virus scan or defrag because he's already done it.

2.  You house is wired with a wifi with heavy encryption and hidden from view.  No hackers here!

3.  You consider the word "nerd" to be a term of endearment.  "That's my nerd!"

4.  When you get a new gadget, you have to get him to back off so that you can set it up by yourself.  We won't talk about the kind of torture it was for my husband to watch me set up my Kobo on my own or how much fun it was to perpetrate.

5.  There are computer books as big as bricks on your bookshelves (mostly for programs that are no longer useful--for new stuff, he just downloads books).  Most parents tease their kids that they need a brick on their head to keep from growing so fast...we threaten computer books.

6.  There's more than one monitor/case/cable/router in your house that is not in use, but will undoubtedly be needed at some point in the near future.

7.  Your family car is one of these:


big_bug_tech_partners

You wish I was joking about this car, don't you?

8.  You can understand nerd talk and when someone says their computer isn't working, the first thing you ask is, "Did you turn it off and back on?"

9.  You can trouble shoot computer problems and are often right.  Your friends are amazed by this and you realize that you've become a nerd by association.

10.  You may not understand everything he says, but you listen anyway, because there's something damn sexy about a guy who knows what he's doing when it comes to technology.

Monday, April 23, 2012

When Technology Goes Wrong: Texting Mishaps

You're writing an innocent text message to a friend, you miss the auto correction that changes the entire meaning of your text and your message is gone before you realize it.  Enter Damn You Auto Correct!.  Yes, there is really a Web site full of auto corrected mishaps.  You can upload yours to be shared with the world.  In fact there's more than one site of this type!  If you need a laugh, I suggest you check the site out.  If we're going to be slaves to technology, at the very least, we should be able to derive some pleasure out of others' misfortunes in the realm of texting.

For more inappropriate texts, there is Parents Shouldn't Text.  After reading some of these, I'm really glad that my parents do not text.  I'm going to do my best to keep it that way.  Texting can get you in to hot water!


smile.back

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You Know You're Married to a Nerd When...

Star Wars Cookies for Moose's 5th BirthdayYou hear your children playing a game in the backseat of the car.  One is pretending to text message the other. Angel says, "I can't text you because my battery is dead."  Big Kid responds, "Don't worry, I'm writing you the best program ever so that won't happen ever again."

Yes, he's turned them into mini-nerds!  I am in trouble!

Want more proof?  Big Kid went to the book fair at school today.  She made a list of books she'd like to buy.  The first one was the Justin Bieber story, which is to be expected for a 9 year old girl.  The rest of the books?  Star Wars.

It's a really good thing that I love Nerds! There are certainly many other ways to tell that you're married to a Nerd. We'll keep adding to the list.
dia dos namorados - geek way

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When Technology Goes Wrong

City, telephone room My older daughter's school uses a telephone blast to keep parents up to date with information that we need to know. It's a bit annoying some days because it seems like her school calls us at least once a week (in comparison, the little one's school calls maybe once a month).

This morning, for the second time this school year, her school did a call blast to every parent to say that their child was not in school today and to call the school. That's right, every single parent in the school was informed that their child was not in school. It's messy to say the least. To their credit, the school realized what they had done and sent a second call blast to let us know the first was incorrect. Actually, they sent the error message twice, you know, in case we didn't get it the first time.

What happened to the good old fashioned phone call? Actually, I'm guessing that the school doesn't have any volunteers to make the calls as the other school does. There's got to be a better way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Nerd Spouse = Involuntary Beta Tester

Beta testing a new product can be fun.  You get a chance to try out new web sites or browsers before they are released to the general public.  The problem with beta testing is that you are basically a guinea pig.  You're there so that the nerds can find the bugs and work them out.

The thing about being married to a Nerd is that I'm always beta testing things without knowing it.  Recently, he's updated the computers in the house to Windows 8 which is in Consumer Preview (aka Beta testing).  It didn't bother me too much because he couldn't update my tablet.  Then I wanted to use his computer and I had to figure out where everything is now.  I will say that I like the Windows 8 platform.  It's smooth and integrates a lot of the pros from the Windows Phone.  But enough about that.

Next thing I knew, the Nerd decided that some updates needed to be made to our server.  Don't ask me what updates, because I nodded off about 1/3 of the way into his explanation.  I knew that he was updating the server because our Internet connection kept crapping out when he did a reboot.  It was more than a little annoying.

Whenever a new program comes out, my Nerd gets excited and learns all he can about it.  I have to hear far more than I care to learn about said program and before I know it, he's got it loaded on one of the computers.  It's like I have to learn how to use the machine all over again.  Sometimes he has to revert back to older versions of software until the new one is bug free.  Other times, he's got to do a lot of research.  For example, with the upgrade to Windows 8, our scanner will not scan.  It's all about compatibility and I'm sure that he'll get it worked out.  In the mean time, I let him have his fun and hope to heaven that he doesn't break anything.

The trick to getting along with your Nerd is to be prepared for constant change to your system.  As soon as you are comfortable with using it, expect a new program or upgrade.  Remember, back up is your friend.  Even if the system goes FUBAR, if you have a back up, you can always go back.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nerd Fun: Spam

Technically, spam is not funny.  Unless of course, you're a Monty Python fan, then you know just how funny spam can be.




I'll admit that I find spam slightly humourous.  I have gotten in the habit of checking my spam folders frequently because I've had important e-mails get redirected to my spam folder without warning.  Have you ever read the subject lines of the mail in your spam folder?  If you want to giggle, you should.  No, I'm not talking about penis enlargements or ads for Viagra and the like.  I'm talking about subjects like FedEx delivery notices, "Dear Beneficiary", contact your bank, etc.  I don't know why, but they crack me up.

It seems that the people who write this spam are going out of their way to make their stories as unbelievable as they can.  The sad thing is that they must be having some success at getting people to fall for their scams because they keep coming.  If they weren't making any profit from spam, they wouldn't go to the trouble of making it.

Don't get me wrong, some spam actually looks legitimate.  And that's where the problem comes in.  If it looks legitimate, some people may not look as carefully at it and open it or click on a bad link.  My Nerd had a client who had to call him back in to help him clean his computer only 2 weeks after he cleaned off the last viruses.

I recently had a spam e-mail show up in my in-box with my first and last name in the subject line.  Scary thing was that this e-mail account is the one I set up for "junk" mail and does not use my full name.  Apparently I'm not as careful as I thought I was when I surf on-line.  I'm sure I filled out something or signed up for something that wasn't quite right.

Sometimes spam looks legitimate, so it's hard to tell.  When in doubt, I'll visit the site directly by typing the address in the address bar.  I don't click on links in my e-mail unless I trust the source.

So, gotten any interesting spam lately?


SPAM Shrine




Thursday, January 19, 2012

Walgreens Prescription Savings Club

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Now, I know you're wondering why I'm writing about a pharmacy on a tech blog, but bear with me here.

Walgreens is offering a special discount on their Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens until January 31, 2012.  For only $10 a year, you can receive discounts on prescriptions for your immediate family members.  Who does that include?  You, a spouse, any dependents 22 years old and younger and your pets.  Really!  Your pets are included in your family membership.  Individual plans are also available for $5 a year.  

Membership includes savings on your all your generic medications and more than 8,000 brand-name medicines.  You'll get discounted flu shots, nebulizers and diabetic supplies too.  And don't forget that you earn bonuses when you purchase Walgreens brand products and photo-finishing services.

Now here is where the tech comes in.  You can open a free online Walgreens.com account that allows you to review your Prescription Savings Club at Walgreens transactions, set up auto-refills and arrange to pick up your prescriptions or have them shipped for free.  You can store or print photos and do online shopping all from the same site.  

Be sure to follow Walgreens on Twitter and like Walgreens on Facebook to help you to stay up to date with all that Walgreens has to offer.

Visit Sponsor's Site