Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Read Any Good Books Lately? Try Audible to Listen Instead.

Read any good books lately? Unfortunately my vision disability has changed my book reading--but wait. Instead of reading books--I listen to books using and what a joy it has been.  Listening at night while traveling or, my favorite, while working out has made book reading enjoyable again.

My choice of listening device is my Android Galaxy Note 3 smart phone. I use the Audible app, connect it to the Audible site and purchase books directly from my phone and listen away. Once I finish a book, I delete it from the device but my library is safe and secure on the web site and can download and listen again anytime I desire.

Don't worry you iPhoneor iPad folks as an Audible app is available for you too. The Audible app can be found for Windows Phone and Blackberry too. is an Amazon company and joins you with the Kindle world of books but by listening instead. There are over 150,000 audible books available. There is just nothing like listening to a good reader (and Audible has some fantastic readers) and being immersed in the book.

I don't get paid for recommending Audible for you can get a FREE first book by joining Audible. Click here to check it out.

I must admit that audible books are more expensive than their Kindle counterparts but you can get a deal if you want both the Kindle and Audible versions. In fact, Kindle's Whisperync technology allows both Kindle and Audible to remembers where you left off. Listen to a book, stop and pick up where you stopped in the Kindle book. I utilize Audible's one book a month subscription for save. I get a credit per month and most books are a single credit. There are a few "monster" 2 credit books but I haven't tried one.

Audible has occasional deals and I've taken quick advantage of them so watch for 'em.

My latest books are mostly suspense novels. Try HiddenOrder by Brad Thor or Eye for anEye: a Dewey Andreas Novel (Book 4) by Ben Coes. I'm starting Sycamore Row by John Grisham.

My favorite Audible feature is setting an automatic shut off time when reading in bed. Audible is set to automatically shut off at the end of the chapter. This way I can easily go back to the beginning of the chapter to find where I fell asleep. Choose Menu, Sleep then End of chapter.

Again, I don't paid from Audible nor do I own stock in Amazon. I am just plain sold on Audible.  I do however, have an Amazon link on my web site and get a small commission if you make a purchase via that link.


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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Choice for Best App

I've never done this before but I strongly believe this app is the very best, the most useful and surprisingly enough -- it's from Microsoft! The app is Microsoft  OneNote.

First off, OneNote is now FREE! That's right--Microsoft has something for FREE.

Secondly, OneNote is available for all platforms. Windows PCs, Windows Tablets, Windows Phones, Android Phones, iPhones, iPads and the Mac. Oh and all are FREE. No subscriptions, no one time payments…just FREE.

So what's the big deal you say. I've heard OneNote referred to as an "information organization tool". That's a mouthful but I strongly believe it too.
  • It's a note taking tool
  • It's a note organization tool
  • It's a document creation tool
  • It's an information remembering tool
  • It's a To Do List
  • It's an outline

Everything you write in OneNote is searchable. That means you can find anything you've written, typed or copied from the web quickly and easily.

Clip web pages to OneNote for later reading, insertion into work projects or school assignments.

OneNote organizes information into Notebooks first. I keep 6 Notebooks open all the time. Each Notebook has Sections that go across the top of the screen. Sections are like chapters in a book. Then each Section has Pages.

A very cool feature of OneNote is that you can drag and drop a page to an earlier order or to a different Section or even to a different Notebook. And best of all, OneNote saves AUTOMATICALLY! There is no Save button anywhere. Type it and it saves instantly.

Another awesome feature is that you can have all of your Notebooks available to you on any of your devices--smartphones, tablets and other PCs. Check it out.


I like the ability to send emails to my OneNote. If something cool comes to me by email or I see something interesting on the web, I can "share" the information via email and send it to and the information is available to me in OneNote.

There is just not enough room in this blog to do OneNote justice but I strongly recommend you download and try it now. Again, it's FREE.

Watch this beginners OneNote Tutorial from

Create your first OneNote Notebook tutorial here.

Here is how someone uses OneNote for school.

Evernote has been the tool of choice for many but OneNote has passed it up. In fact, you can move all of your Evernote notes to OneNote with this tool.


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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Parental Controls for Android Phones and Tablets

Should you use parental controls on your kid's smart phone or tablet? Let's face it, more and more kids, pre-teens and teens have smart phones or tablets. Heck, all 10 of my grand kids have them (ages 4-18). There is so much one can get to via the web or with apps (like You Tube) that one might say has some content that is inappropriate. Of course, you parents get to decide. But let me share some of what you can do to help you out with your parental control decisions.

First, I am going to assume your kids are well balanced, nice and don't do unsavory things. However, they are likely to be curious and want to discover new and exciting things and teach themselves how to do new things. This is all good and desirable but with coaching by parents.

Here are some questions I think you might be asking.

  • Can I block in appropriate web sites from my child's eyes?
  • Do I need to have an account created for them on the Google Play Store?
  • Does my child need an email address?

I will answer these questions and many more in this article. I share Android Apps for Parental Controls. (I will iOS and Windows in a future article as this one is quite long). I will link to other articles that give specifics to "the most popular" or "best" parental controls apps as this is not really my expertise and there are many good articles. I will, however, share what is possible and give you some insights to parental controls.

Foundational features of parental controls are the ability to limit the apps a child can use on their phone or tablet. They won't be able to get to the settings or purchase apps without your permission. There are a variety of apps that let you control specifically which app icons they can see and which controls on the device that will work. You can change these settings of course. Another parental control feature is the ability to set time limits or time boundaries for device or app use.

You should also be able to control which web sites your child can go to. Many kids need access to school sites to perform or turn in homework so internet access is needed. However, your child, being curious and wanting to learn and explore, shouldn't be able to stumble upon unsavory sites. You need to ability to block categories of web sites as well as have the ability to allow needed sites that are blocked as a rule. How does a parental control app work to block sites on the internet? This is done by having a different browser installed on the tablet that pas the parental controls features built in. The original internet browser preinstalled on the tablet is simply blocked or hidden. They simply have no choice but to use the new browser. You will also be able to hide apps on the tablet or smart phone. This will be done with a password that only you will know.

For smart phones, you should have the ability to control the phone numbers that can be dialed and the apps that can be used. Limiting who can send texts to your child's phone as well as the numbers to text to.

Let's see those questions again.

Do I need to have an account created for my child on their tablet or smart phone?

An account must be created but it can be yours (parent) and you keep the password. Or you can indeed create their own account with their password but this allows them to get any app they desire. If the app has a cost, a means of payment must be attached to the account. Your call.

Does my child need an email address?

No. They can operate their tablet or smart phone without an email.

Can I block inappropriate web sites from my children's eyes?

Yes you can. A variety of apps will allow you to set parameters on the types of sites than can be blocked. Pornography  and inappropriate videos are examples.

Can I set limitations on what apps my child can download?

Via a parental control app, they either can download their own apps or they must have you do it.

Can I set time limits on the use of the tablet? For example only 2 hours per day?

Yes you can. Some apps let you do this for the entire device or set limits for individual apps.

Can I be notified somehow if my child tries to go to places or use apps that I have forbidden them to do so?

Yes. There are some very "feature rich" parental control apps that will send you a text or email when your child crosses boundaries you have set forth on the device. Look, some boundaries crossed might be honest curiosity and be a site you will let them visit. In this case you will be able to adjust the boundaries to allow the individual site.

 Are these apps FREE or what do they cost?

Many are FREE and some are quite good. Some have a nominal one-time cost while the very good ones have an annual or monthly subscription. If you have 4 kids and 4 tablets you will need to pay 4 times. Bummer, I know. If you use the same account on all devices, this might get by the multiple purchases and allow you to pay just once but use the app on all four tablets.

Take a look at some of these articles relating to specific apps from some folks who have researched the apps closely.

10 Best AndroidParental Control Apps by John Corpuz. November 27, 2013.

Six Best ParentalControl Apps for Android by Robyn Spoto. November 14, 2013.

How to make Androidchild friendly by Neil Mohn. March 7, 2013.

Top Parental ControlApps for Android by Steven Blum. April 25, 2012.

7 Best FREE AndroidParental Control Apps by Khaled Md. Shariar. September 14, 2013.

Here is a summary of apps from the above articles.

Kids Place - ParentalControl 4.3 of 5 Stars. 6,019 Reviews. FREE.

Kid Mode - FREE Gamesplus Lock 4.3 of 5 Stars. 47,008 Reviews. FREE

AppNotifier - ProtectYourself 3.9 of 5 Stars. 113 Reviews. FREE.

Safe Browser 3.8 of 5 Stars. 1,310 Reviews. FREE.

Screen Time ParentalControl 3.7 of 5 Stars. 1,128 Reviews. FREE

MMGuardian ParentalControl 3.6 of 5 Stars. 511 Reviews. FREE

Funamo ParentalControl 3.4 of 5 Stars. 460 Reviews. FREE

Mamabear Family Safety 3.4 of 5 Stars. 284 Reviews. FREE app but $3.99 per month.

MobileMinder 3.2 of 5 Stars. 118 Reviews. FREE.

Norton Family ParentalControl  3.0 of 5 Stars. 2,191 Reviews. FREE



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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Office for iPad is Here! But...

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft announced and released Office for the iPad and it looks pretty darned good and thousands upon thousands of people agree. Office for iPad includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint built specifically for the iPad. I've downloaded them myself and they work quite well indeed. I just wish everything was rosy.

There are some caveats you should be aware of to keep your expectations in check.
  • Office for iPad is FREE. But, you can only open and view documents-you cannot create or edit.
  • To create and edit you must purchase Office 365 Home Premium for $9.99 per month or $99.00 per year.
  • If you are going to use Office for work on your iPad you'll need and  Office 365 for Business license.
  • Documents are saved on the iPad or SharePoint or Microsoft OneDrive. That's it! No other cloud services allowed.
It is interesting to note that Word made it into the top grossing apps too by virtue of people purchasing the Office 365 Subscription through the iTunes Store.

To be fair, Google does the same thing with their QuickOffice Pro HD as you cannot use Microsoft OneDrive. You can use Google Drive or DropBox so you get a choice--just not a complete choice.

I think Office 365 Home Premium is a good deal as you can put Office on up to 5 computers (PC or Mac) and Office was just updated for the Mac. In addition, the subscription allows unlimited Office installs on tablets(iOS or Android). On the other hand, many have already paid handsomely for Office and getting into a $100 per year deal, regardless of the number of machines, might not be all that inviting.

Office Mobile was announced too and, interestingly enough, this is completely FREE and you can even create and edit documents on the iPhone or Android smart phones (Office Mobile for Windows Phone already exists) but who would want to? Maybe some I suppose but I've tried it and the experience isn't that great.


The "sunshine" of Office for iPad is OneNote. Microsoft treats OneNote differently, however, as OneNote is already out and completely FREE for iOS and Android and you can create and edit notebooks to boot. I wrote about OneNote recently so I won't go into it here. Let's just say that I love it.

So, if you want to create and edit Office documents on your iPad, you'll need to pay for Office 365. If you are entrenched into a cloud service other than Microsoft's OneDrive (like I am) you might be wary of making the change. After all, most of us have found an iPad alternative to Office and have been doing just fine with out it.


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