Category Archives: Technology

Uses For Dropbox

If you check out the Android Apps I Recommend section of this website you’ll see Dropbox listed.  I thought I’d take a few moments today to share with you a few of the ways that I use it.  If you’re an iUser they also have an app for you.

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In case you didn’t know, Dropbox is a cloud storage service.  By using it you’ll have access to your files anywhere you have an internet connection.

Both free and paid options are offered.  You start with 2GB for free and can get up to 16GB free in various ways including inviting friends to join.  My free account is up to 8GB.  Most of the extra storage I got by beta testing different versions of their Android app.

When you sign up for an account you can install the Dropbox software on your PC or Mac.  This allows you to keep a special Dropbox folder on your desktop.  Any file put into it is automatically uploaded to the cloud.  Any file uploaded to the cloud from your phone is downloaded to your PC and shows up in this folder.  It’s really pretty slick.

Ways I Use Dropbox

* Every morning at 3am my phone makes a copy of my call log and texts.  These files are then sent to Dropbox.

* After the 3rd incorrect PIN entry on my phone it silently takes a picture with the front facing camera and sends it to Dropbox.

* I have a folder set up where I put the audio of our Pastor’s weekly sermon.  A link to it is shared with the congregation so they have access to the audio.

* Any picture taken with my phone is automatically sent to Dropbox.

* We have a “family” folder where my wife and I share files.

* If I start writing a blog post on my tablet I save it to Dropbox to have easy access on our PC.

* I backup this website to Dropbox every Sunday.

* Before a trip I can put a few movies on my Nexus 7 and have other movies stored to Dropbox.  Once the kids have watched all those on the N7 I can delete them and download different ones from Dropbox.

Those are just a few of the ways I use Dropbox.  If you have any creative ways you use it I’d love to hear them.

If you don’t have a Dropbox account you can sign up for free here.  When you use that link we’ll both get a little extra storage.

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Using “The Force”

My wife and I both got a pretty cool late Christmas gift:  The Fitbit Force.  It’s a fitness/activity/sleep tracker that you wear on your wrist 24/7 (except when showering or swimming).  It counts your daily steps, distance you’ve gone, calories burned, flights of steps you’ve climbed, sleep quality, and more.

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We’ve both been wearing the Force for a little more than a week and I have to say that so far I am impressed.  It’s comfortable and stylish.   I thought it might annoy me wearing it while sleeping but it hasn’t.

For me it’s a constant reminder to be active.  Instead of calling a co-worker to ask a question it compels me to walk to their office.  It gives me a reason to park a little farther from the front door to the office.

It can also help you keep track of what you eat and drink via the mobile app and website.  Earlier this week I saw a picture on Facebook with the caption “If you bite it, write it.”  The app helps you do just that.  There is a convenient place to log the foods you eat and it lists the calories you’ve taken in.  When you’re honestly entering everything you eat you’re a lot less likely to have that extra Oreo.

Through the website you can set up a group of friends that use Fitbit devices.  It allows you to encourage, taunt, and keep up and compare your progress to theirs.  It’s a pretty cool way to stay motivated but I have to say my chance of getting more steps than my wife is pretty slim.  She works in a large retail store and just going from the parking lot to the break room probably nets her 500 steps. Plus, she’s up and going all day helping customers.  Yesterday she broke 20,000 steps!

I think one of the coolest things about the Force is the sleep tracking. You press a button when you’re ready to sleep and press it again when you wake up.  It keeps track of your movement throughout the night and lets you know how many times you were restless and gives you a sleep efficiency rating.

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It also has a vibrating alarm feature.   Set it and when it’s time to go off it pulses to wake you up.  No jarring alarm to startle you and your spouse.

I like the Fitbit Force and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get a little more active.  Sure, you could walk more and keep better track of your sleep and foods eaten without one… but it wouldn’t be near as much fun.

Do you have a Fitbit device?  A tip you use to stay more active?  Leave me a comment.  I’d love to hear about it.

 

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Fun & Functional Android Homescreens

I’m a big fan of Android phones and tablets.  I was hooked ever since the original Droid.  One of the things I like most about them is the ability to customize.  You have the ability to make your phone uniquely yours in both how it looks and functions.

You can change widgets, wallpapers, and launchers to really create some different looks.

One thing I like to do is add an “invisible” icon to your home screen. This allows you to have a minimalist layout but still gives you lots of functionality.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Screenshot_2012-11-06-13-16-38In the above picture, when you tap on each of the different colors of smoke you will open a different app.

Adding an invisible icon is easy.  All you need is the free app Desktop VisualizeR.      Once installed, add a Desktop VisualizeR Widget to your home screen the way you normally add a normal widget.   There are lots of different sizes to choose from.  You’ll need to experiment with what you like best.  I use and alternate home launcher, Apex Pro, and typically go with 2×2 and then re-size it as needed.  You should now see a widget on your home screen with a green-lined square around an android guy and gear.  If you are using Apex or Nova I’d recommend long-pressing on the widget now and re-sizing it to your liking.  Tap the widget and choose “select icon” from “others” and then from the “none”.   Now tap “select action” and choose the action/app you want. Under label you will want to hit “clear” or you will have the label on your screen but no icon. There is another option labeled “Touch Effect”.  This basically is the color the widget will glow when you press it.  I prefer None… but this choice is purely user preference.   Now press “ok”. Your invisible icon should now be on your home screen.

I change things up on my home screen every few weeks or so.  Here are a few of the different looks mine has had over the past year and a half.  Hopefully, it will give you some ideas on how you could customize yours.  Drop me a question in the comments if you want to know more about how to achieve a specific look.

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