Apps and Accessories for at Home Work & Play

Education, Fitness, how to, journal, Organization, productivity, Technology, tips and tricks, Uncategorized, writing

So…honestly, didn’t see this coming. Social distancing. Distance learning. I notice a theme here. And, as more people move to self quarantine status here are a few apps and accessories I’ve found to help.

Apps

Zoom: Video Conferencing

Looks like Zoom is going to take the top spot for online discourse. Zoom is offering free upgrades to teachers with their employee email address. I met with my students yesterday online for the first time and it went well. Easy to see everyone, the ability to show your screen (very helpful for my yearbook meeting), and record your session.

Libby by OverDrive

Libby is the official library app. Think of Netflix for books and audiobooks, only free. You use your library card to sign up and you have unlimited books at your fingertips. Read right within the app or send to your Kindle device.

Scribed

A little pricey (roughly $100 a year) but the books and audiobooks are new releases. Best sellers. Honestly, one of the best investments I’ve ever made. If you’re a book person, you need this service and, it’s less expensive than Kindle Unlimited which has a more limited number of contemporary texts. You can try the service out for, I believe 30 days, free of charge. It’s worth checking out.

Journal App: Day One or Dyrii

Both Day One and Dyrii offer on the go digital journaling. Why digital journals? I believe the biggest benefit to a digital journal during this time in history is the ability to add photos and link news reports. Also, they claim people won’t be able to read cursive handwriting in the future, although both offer handwritten pages using your iPad and an Apple Pencil. Day One backs up an encrypted version of your data on their own servers while Dyrii uses your Apple account to sync entrees (in case that makes a difference to you).

Workout App of Your Choice

Fitness is still important. Just because the pool is closed doesn’t mean I’m ok with losing my bikini body. Besides, cardiovascular health is important for everyone. Daily Burn and Beachbody have both opened their digital library and YouTube has some great options as well (I’d recommend anything from Tracy Anderson). I, personally, hate, hate, hate, Beachbody videos, they make me cringe, but they offer the most variety. Daily Burn isn’t quite so bad. If anyone is interested, I could put together a list of good videos for people who are looking to maintain their fitness (no beginner stuff) with videos which aren’t too cheesy (You can do this! You’re a superhero! 🤢 🤮 I just can’t. Clearly, I’m NOT a superhero).

Bear Notes

I know, I just wrote about them, but it’s worth another mention. Right now, I simply need a way to dump thoughts, write out the agenda for all my classes, etc. Calendar apps aren’t really working for that at the moment. I love the fact that I can add more than one tag to notes. I can find notes easily through the tagging system. I enjoy the multiple themes and different header options. Maybe I’ve just tweaked it into what I need it to be, but it’s still worth a look, especially since so many people are working from home.

ACCESSORIES

Otter + Pop

The Otterbox PopSockets duo. Normally, I’m not down with large phone cases, but since all the Apple Stores are closed I can’t exactly afford to have my phone damaged. Otterbox continues to be one of the (if not THE most) protective case on the market. And, to give them credit, they’ve slimmed down their cases over the years. It’s still my largest case, but not as bad as the Otterboxs of years ago. PopSockets, that’s a no brainer. With all the video chats, streaming workouts, and books you’ll be reading it’s nice to have a grip on your phone. One of the things I really like about the PopSocket on this case is that it’s slightly recessed, making it lay a bit more flush with the back of the case and it’s still an interchangeable pop grip. Right now I’m sporting an interesting combo of a case featuring lemons and a tortoise shell PopSocket. It works.

AirPods

Seriously, you need AirPods. I use them for workouts, video chats, regular phone calls. Everything. These things make life easier. I find myself recording my phone screen a lot for my students, they work with the MAC as well. I’m not a music person (and my Dad is a musician, personal rebellion, I guess) as in, I don’t walk around listening to music. I’m a story girl. I always have an audiobook or podcast ready to go. Pretty sure if you’re a music person, these are even more important. If, for no other reason, these allow me to walk around my house hands free. Meaning I can talk to my parents about their latest computer problem while getting my daughter her chocolate milk, banana, paper, marker, doll, dress, stuffed animal, hair tie…she’s four. I get a lot of things.

Ring Light

There’s a reason movie studios have so many lights, we just look better a little flushed out. I know some people are sporting pajamas all day and going without makeup, but that is not me. Getting dressed, wearing makeup, creating a sense of normalcy helps me, I do these things for myself. The ring light? Ok, that might be a vanity thing, but seriously, you don’t want to look a mess on all those Zoom chats. Again, I can not be one of those people who uses an avatar in place of a real person.

Apple Pencil

If you have an iPad, Apple Pencil is a must. Sometimes I feel the need to write things down. I can do that, within Bear Notes, with an Apple Pencil. The best native writing experience comes with the Noteshelf2 app. I have found myself writing in Noteshelf and then adding those notes to Bear. Again, it’s a weird walk around which works for me despite the fact those notes are editable once they’ve been deposited into my Bear note. I very rarely, if ever, edit a handwritten note.

UBeesize Tripod

Under $20 on Amazon, the UBeesize works with both cell phones and cameras. Not that anyone if vlogging during all of this. Please tell me no on is vlogging during all of this. The best thing about this tripod is that the feet bend. You an even wrap it around furniture so you’re finding at the perfect height. The only downside is that it doesn’t really work with the Otterbox case.

#blogpost

Why You Should Think Twice Before Paying for MyFitnessPal Premium

Fitness, productivity, Technology

MyFitnessPal (owned by parent company Under Armour) is a calorie counting and fitness application designed to help people manage their caloric intake in either an effort to lose, maintain, or gain weight. The service is free with an option to go add free for $49.99 a year. I chose the paid option, and based on my experience, I caution you not to make the same mistake. Here’s my story:

There are two ways you can go about using the service. You can stay completely quiet and count your calories or you can participate in the “community” and , like all social media, post and communicate with others from around the world. For some reason, I decided to participate in the forums.

On Sunday morning I found my account blocked. Blocked means completely unusable. My $50 gone. I couldn’t get on to the site at all, even to log things I had kept private. Why? According to the pop up, I had violated their policy. Specifically their policy on eating disorders. The problem? I didn’t. I’ve read the policy several times, I know what I posted and in no way, shape, or form did I violate their policy. The bigger problem? There’s no way for me to prove my case. The company has zero customer support or series of checks and balances. I realize it sounds crazy, this is a company that trades on the stock market how do they not have a customer service department? I don’t know, all I know is that I reached out via the “contact us” portal on the website (twice!) because I wanted to see a quote of the post they claimed violated their rules (I was convinced it had to be a mistake). No response. Check out my Twitter (@CarolynNicole) I tried reaching them through social media with at least 5 tweets in an attempt to solve my problem. No response. Facebook messenger. No response. Instagram. No response. So how did my account become blocked if no one appears to actually work there? According to the website they rely on community members to monitor the forums. I’m not sure what that means exactly (and of course there’s no way to ask, because there is no customer service) but I believe that means that other members have the ability to suspend your account (even paid) if they feel offended by your posts. Now things make sense.

So what did I post that could have set someone running to their safe space:

– I am a recovered anorexic. I’ve been healthy since 1995.

– I am technically underweight. I DID NOT post my weight, measurements, clothing size, or BMI which I thought might trigger someone. But I am large enough to get pregnant and have a child (so, not unhealthy underweight).

– I am happy with my body. (That makes at least 50% of the female population hate you right away. Everyone’s for body positivity, as long as you aren’t happy with your own body)

– At the time I received help I weighed 72lbs. I had a wonderful counselor, had a positive experience, and encouraged anyone in my position to get help.

– I am a Christian, prayer helps me retain my health and guides my life.

– I’ve modeled in the past.

– I eat to live. I don’t enjoy eating and count calories to make sure I am getting enough food and nutrition every day.

– I sometimes pack my own food if I’m afraid I’ll freak myself out and choose to not eat in social situations. Eating is very important and you should never skip meals.

None of the above mentioned information violated any of their rules or guidelines. BUT, if you’re a random person, unhappy with your life, I may have posted something you found offensive. Maybe it was another person who has struggled with an eating disorder and doesn’t want to hear about help. Or possibly someone who suffers from a binge eating disorder and hates underweight women. Heck, it could’ve been someone who was anti-Christian. The point is, I’ll never know, and the company itself will never step in to figure it out. If I were a vindictive person (or just crazy) I could creat a fake account and randomly report people because I didn’t like their profile photo, or so it appears.

Consequently, until there is a better method of regulating how posts are flagged and accounts suspended, I highly suggest you stick to the free version of this app. Thankfully, since I purchased the subscription through the Apple App Store, Apple stepped in and within 24 hours my $50 was refunded. I would still love to hear from the company and be vindicated but I seriously doubt that will happen. I moved back to LoseIt! and am quite happy. I’ll make sure to write a review after using the service for a longer period of time.

Quick Update & a Rant

Fitness

Just a quick little check in. I’ve been eating the same number of calories (1400-1600) which I ate when I weighed 93-96 lbs previously. High protein. Walking 3-4 miles a day and light weight lifting for 30 minutes. And…I’ve gained weight every day. Didn’t see that one coming. I went from 103 to 105 BUT I do look tighter. I’m not sure if that makes sense. I’m going to keep going and see what happens. I’m not going to cut calories because despite what people (and companies like myfitnesspal) think a tiny person looking to get back to where they were before pregnancy, admittedly tinier, is not anorexic. Sometimes that is just the way God made ‘ya. All that “you’re more than just a number on the scale” thing seems only to apply if that number is large. I am not encouraging starvation! I’m a small person who maintained a low weight for 15 years, 16 actually. I weighed 96 on my wedding day. In 1999. My cholesterol was close to 300!!!! My body fat stayed consistent between 23 (training for a marathon) & 26%. I never looked frail. This is just the way I’m made. And maybe things have changed. Hey, I’ll weigh 200 if it means I’m healthy, I have lots of energy, and my old jeans fit. Regardless of the numbers I’m just an average mom trying to lose the pregnancy weight which makes me realize that maybe that’s ALL I should have written. Just the facts and not the exact numbers because listen, it’s about how you feel (and right now, I feel sluggish and sad my clothes don’t fit) and not the number on the scale. No one cares what you weigh. Your doctor. Your doctor probably cares what you weigh. Other than that, no one follows you around with a scale. Which brings me to another point, when you read an article such as the one on Kim K “losing” 7 lbs in two weeks…no one is following HER around with a scale. She may have gained 7lbs. but because she’s working out and eating better, she’s giving the appearance of weight loss. It’s an interesting theory. And it reiterates the fact that the important thing is eating well and moving. I’m sure even Pokemon Go counts. Never starve yourself. Ever. Period. And it really upset me that myfitnesspal would…anyway, longer post on that later because I wrote the company and I’d like to hear their response. 

I’m happy I’m back to lifting weights again. Nothing crazy. The 10lb free weights are the “heavy” ones now. I can leg lift 104lbs, which I find impressive. Lifting weights makes me feel more confident and I didn’t realize how much I missed it. If you’ve never tried weight lifting you may want to give it a try. Start with some light weights and find an app if you aren’t sure what to do with them. I’ll post some recommendations tomorrow for anyone who is interested. I just wanted to do a quick check in, maybe some advice: ditch the scale. 

I’m Back…

Fitness, Technology


Wow! Where have I been? I realize I’ve neglected this blog, but at the same time, I have a pretty valid excuse: I finished my master’s degree and had a baby. Not just any baby, mind you, I had Tabitha. Tabitha the “I’m coming 3 weeks early and you can’t stop me” baby. The baby who wouldn’t eat so we had to wake up every two hours to feed her, the baby who wouldn’t sleep, the baby who everyone has admitted is a “sibling killer”. Aka: Tabitha the only child. Tabitha who I love more than anything and wouldn’t trade for the world. Add in a little postpartum depression at the fact I didn’t have a 22″ waist two weeks after birth and my epic return to work…longer story involving cheerleaders. I have a plethora of apps to review. A whole bunch of stories. My mind is working all the time and I have no outlet for my musings. So I’ve decided that it’s important I return to writing. And it’s ok that my writing isn’t just tied to one topic. I’m making peace with that. I’ve read so many articles about blogging and building an audience, branding yourself, and sticking to only one subject and I respect that. I understand the logic to that but that mindset has also caused me to stop writing for almost a year. So, I’m back, but my blog is changing. It’s no longer just about teaching with technology it’s about how technology assists in all aspects of your life: work (for multiple careers), fitness, parenthood, & relationships. The first thing I’m going to tackle is getting my body back in shape. The baby is almost a year old! I believe it is time. Right? I recently came across an article on how Kim K lost 7 lbs (not a fan, personally) in two weeks. Perfect. 7lbs. would put me back at 95. I think my ideal weight is between 98 & 100 so if you take into account that I may mess up a few days…

My tools are my Apple Watch, my iPhone 6, and the Myfitnesspal app (user name Tabbycat00 feel free to add me). I’m starting this Friday July 8th with my goal finishing date being July 22nd. I can’t do bikini before and after pictures, not because I’m ashamed of how I look in a bikini, but because my school district will not allow me to post them on social media. Trust me on this one. But I can post photos in tank tops and shorts. My goal is to prove that everyday women can have “Hollywood” results. You don’t need a personal trainer or cook…remember I could be wrong. I’ll blog my food intake and exercise for each day and sometimes I’ll post videos of my workouts so that you can follow along at home. Here is my lovely “before” photo in my messy bedroom.