Tech Talk: What’s New?

Google defines Technology as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes.” When you come across articles discussing the future regarding the way we travel, this definition definitely applies. Who would have thought that in our lifetime, we would see cars that can drive themselves or that jet packs would be a part of our reality? Well, they are coming. The real question should not be WHEN will this technology be available, but rather, “how will we embrace it when it arrives?”

AIR “TRAVEL”

One technology that Amazon is trying to embrace within its business model, is introducing drones to deliver packages. I instantly begin to picture the drones flying on to my porch and dropping off my package thereby saving manpower, fuel and most importantly time. But one thing I don’t consider right away is what is that doing to the job force that delivers my packages now? Will those jobs become obsolete, or will drone delivery  only take care of places within a certain proximity to an Amazon warehouse or just certain zip codes? This type of technology definitely does present some problems we-collectively-must think about and address before we can fully embrace this as a new type of norm in our lives.

 Automobile Travel

By now, you may know someone with a hybrid vehicle, or you yourself may have one. But did you know that there is an unmanned Google car traveling across town running errands? Of course, there is someone behind the wheel in case of an emergency, but for the most part, the car will be traveling without human interference.  Did you also know that Ford is developing a car that can read road signs and adjust the speed of your car accordingly? Their goal is help drivers avoid speeding tickets and try to reduce the number of accidents.

These are just two small examples of technology that is coming. What do you think about Ford’s car; would you buy it? Do you embrace change and advancement in technology willingly or reluctantly? Feel free to leave comments below.

Tech Talk: Google Products

Google Earth

Google Earth is an amazing app that gives you free satellite images of the Earth and places around the world. You can use the mobile, web or desktop version and you can choose to use the free version or Google Earth Pro.

If you have already dabbled with this app at all, chances are that you’ve probably used it to find your house. If you haven’t, you should try it. It’s neat to see your own home on a satellite photo and interesting to determine when the image of your home may have been taken. One time when I searched for my own home, it showed it when the houses around us were still under construction. Another time was when my in-laws were in town because we could see their car in our driveway using the Street View option.

The images are normally really good resolution and can show such things as hiking trails and terrain of the area you are searching.

Other things you can do on Google Earth (free version):

I used the mobile/app version, clicked on the magnifying glass to search and once I typed in my destination address. Instantly, I was taken from a view of the Earth from space down to more of an aerial view of my neighborhood. There was a marker above my address and using the iPhone finger pinch method, I was able to zoom in even closer to see greater detail.

This is a great app to have loaded and ready to go for when you want to go on your own adventure!

Have you ever used Google Earth and found something unique, strange, or unusual? Leave a comment and let us know what you found!

Google Chrome

Everyone who spends any length of time online has a preference when it comes to using an internet browser. I have used Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Chrome at some point of my online life and personally, I prefer Chrome, by far. I have found it to be faster than the other browsers and prefer the streamlined. A commonality with most browsers nowadays is that they are making improvements to level the playing field. Finding one that suits you may not be as simple as it was in the past.

Benefits of Chrome:

  • Minimalistic design lets the user delete icons off of the toolbar for a more simplistic view.
  • Tab format allows you to have multiple websites open at one time, within the same browser.
  • Incognito mode allows the user to browse without leaving cookies or tracking of activity, unless files are downloaded.
  • One touch bookmarking capability.
  • Personalization options with different themes/color schemes.
  • Intelligent start page with commonly visited webpage.
  • Browser extensions give the user added functionality.

Need more reasons to love Chrome? Check out this list that may make you love it more.  Have you found something that makes you chose the browser you use?

Text to Speech

Google’s Text to Speech is a product that can be used with other Google products such as Google Play books to read the text from books out loud or can be used with Google Translate to read aloud translations or provide insight to pronunciations.

I haven’t listened to many books on tape except for a time or two while traveling to visit family in Florida. However,  I do like the idea of being able to use an e-reader and then using the Text to Speech option while in the car.  I can also see what a benefit it would be to use this feature while traveling abroad for the pronunciations could definitely come in handy.

I found a personal review of this feature from Stefan Svartling and he said it actually helped him hone his speed reading skills. He said that just following along and reading with the reader helped to minimize the natural pauses in his head. That is definitely an added bonus to this feature. I never would have thought to use it for something like that.  Text to Speech does support 15 languages and surprisingly, Svartling’s language of Swedish was not one of them, but he found a work around and is still able to use this great product.

Have you ever used Google’s Text to Speech? What was the benefit that you experienced while using it?

Tech Talk: App Review(s)

Have you ever found yourself searching aimlessly in the App Store trying to find some really cool, useful and of course, free apps to use? Rest assured that I’m right there with you. There are some apps such as Apps Gone Free that will give you a daily update of paid for apps that are free for a limited time. Check out my top 5 recently found, free apps that may be worth checking out.

ANCESTRY

ancestry image

By now you have probably seen this site advertised on television. Ancestry is a popular app to help you locate relatives and information relevant to your lineage. I lost both of my paternal grandparents a couple of years ago and it got me thinking more about trying to find out about our lineage. My grandfather was adopted and was unable to get past a certain point before he was stuck.

Review:

Setting up an account was easy enough to do and the screens were fairly easy to use but entering all of the info and selecting people to add to your family tree became tedious. Within the first few additions to my family tree, the app kept crashing which became very frustrating. Also, it was hard to figure out how to put people in the right place once you had made a mistake.

The nice thing, however; is that you get little leaf icon next to people where there have been records located such as birth, marriage or death certificates. There is a free 7 day trial but after that you have to pay $34.99/ month  in order to view the documents and continue receiving hints about your ancestry. I feel like the common user would need to pay for the information in order for this app to really be effective. I’m not sure how many people are willing to pay for it, but I love the idea of tracing my heritage to see who I may be related to.

ANYLIST

anylist image

I recently stumbled upon this app after finding out that one I was currently using was no longer supported. AnyList has some great, easy to use functionality. Here are some of the key benefits:

-You can share your grocery list with someone else so anyone connected to it could add items to the list.

-You can create as many lists as you want to keep things nice and organized per store.

-You can add to the list by scanning the barcode of an item or by typing it in to the list as needed.

-You can search the web for recipes.

Review:

I found this app to be visually appealing and very easy to use. There is a paid for version that will allow you more functionality with making a weekly meal calendar and saving recipes to the app. The subscription services are either a 12 month family subscription for $11.99 or a 12 month individual subscription for 7.99. I think the average user could use the free version and still see some benefit but I could also argue that using a paid for version might be beneficial for those that like to be organized and have things all in one place.

30/30 PRODUCTIVITY

3030 image

This is a pretty cool app. It lets you set up a task and a time to finIsh it in and works by gestures (think swipe left to delete or shake to undo).  So, if you want to study Math for 40 minutes, take a 10 minute break and then study English, you can set up your tasks and not have to worry about the time getting away from you.

Review:

The concept of this app is pretty unique. I like the fact that I don’t have to stare at a clock to stay on task. In reading some of the app reviews, I was impressed with what people were saying about it. I saw, “amazing” “must have for college students” “perfect for ADD” and surprisingly, “writing my dissertation with this app!” It is pretty easy to navigate and it is very pleasing to look at. I would say that if you are someone that likes to make a task list and cross things off, this would be something perfect for you to try.

CALCBOT

calcbot image

This is promoted as an intelligent calculator. Not that I really need another app similar to a free one that came on my phone, but sometimes there are other apps that I prefer to use.  I know I’m not the only one that feels this way!

Review:

All of your entries are saved to a history tape so you can view later or pull them into your current calculation. There is also an expression view that will let you see all that you’ve entered so you won’t wonder where you left off in a long list. There are some in app purchases to let you personalize the color scheme. Those are only $0.99 per theme pack if you wish to purchase. Other features include:

-currency convertor: which comes with the pro version for $1.99

-scientific functions

-favorites button that will let you save commonly used calculations

All in all, this is a calculator app but it may be more user friendly and if you like some of the features mentioned above, it may work. Better for you than to iOS version.

TODAY’S DOCUMENT/NATIONAL ARCHIVES

natl archives image

I thought this app sounded really interesting when I first saw it in the App Store.  It is an archive of the world’s most important and intriguing documents and provides you a look into a new one each day.

Review:

If you are like me and are becoming more interested in history as you get older, this app may be something to look in to. You can view the actual document, tap an icon to view it in a typed format and even share it with others directly from the app. This app is very user friendly and allows you to scroll through past entries to review again or see any you may have missed.  Some examples of what you fight find are, Eli Whitney’s patent document for the Cotton Gin, Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent drawing, or the photo of the flag raising at Iwo Jima. If you like history mixed in with some interesting old pictures and documents, this is definitely one to download.

So there you have it. Those are five of my latest app suggestions and reviews.  Do any stand out to you as ones that you might download to check out? If you’ve stumbled onto any must-have apps, I’d love to hear what you have found. Feel free to leave a comment below and share it with the rest of us!