True Confessions–Technology Junky

technologyRight here today I will come clean; I am a technology junky. There Jim, I admitted it for the entire world to see.

It may have always been hidden down deep, but it started to surface a few years ago when I was spending time with my brother-in-law Paul. He is a computer engineer and is always up on the latest and greatest gadgets and solutions. He has helped me research technology purchases and provides a sounding board when I have questions. My parents also rely on Paul and me to help them.

Our house is full of technology, here is a partial list.

  • Three computers – two laptops and a new all-in-one (complete review coming)
  • Four tablets – an iPad, a Surface RT and two Nexus 7s
  • Three smartphones (two in use) – Jim’s HTC Trophy, Motorola Droid Razr M and as of last week my HTC Droid DNA
  • External storage – Buffalo Terastation that we have had for eight years
  • Wireless router and two wireless boosters

In the spring I created an infographic about our household Internet map.

Each time I get to research a new device and actually bring it home I am so excited. It is fun for me to learn the new things it will do. Jim actually said to me the other day that I need to learn my Andoid phone so that I can teach him when he gets his new phone. See, it isn’t just all about me; I am helping others too. I am going to keep saying that to myself until I actually believe it.

There is nothing more frustrating to me then to have my technology stop working or fail me, but on the flip side — new toys are so fun to play with.

Do you have a confession?

Hold the Phone

Razr MI have had a Windows Phone for the last two years and was pretty happy with my experience until I upgraded to the HTC 8x in February. Since then I have been so fed up that I’m now a reluctant owner of a Motorola Droid Razr M.

My problems started about a month after I got the HTC 8x, which is a Windows 8 Phone. My email would not sync. I am on a Microsoft Exchange Server for email (not a kluged together solution like others are forced to do), the same as corporations, which I have through our subscription to Office 365. So it should sync and email should work. At first, the problem would only happen every few days, but as time wore on it became a problem during most days. Sometimes turning the phone on and off would fix it, but not always. I also started to have texting and volume issues as well.

After doing a couple of resets to the phone, Verizon did a warranty replacement of the phone, sending me a new HTC 8x. The new phone worked for one day and then the same problems returned. I called Verizon customer service and they offered to replace the phone with a Motorola Droid Razr M as a courtesy to me for being a long-time customer.

Jim and I had been talking about trying an Android since Microsoft announced an Xbox music app for iOS and Android. Although you can’t download music yet through the new app, it seemed like it might be good enough. Since we get our music through the Xbox music subscription service it was one of the main reasons we were sticking with Windows phones.

I have had the new phone for just over a week and so far I am pretty happy. It is nice to have all of the apps in the Google Play store, including Instagram that I couldn’t use on the Windows phone. Since I have worked on the boys’ Nexus 7’s I am somewhat familiar with the user interface. My biggest complaint so far is that the standard background for menus, settings and texting is black with white text, which is difficult to read in the sun. I can’t figure out how to change it.

Since I am now a Droid user for the next 18 months or so, let me know if you have any app suggestions or ideas on how to change the background. And if you have any information regarding when the Xbox Music app for Android will add the ability to download music for offline listening, that would be much appreciated as well.

Tech Tip–Color Your Calendar

To help manage our family calendar I use colors for each person when I put the appointments into Outlook. It is an simple way to easily see who has appointments each day. I print out the weekly schedule and post it on our kitchen wall. This video shows how to use categories to color code your calendar in Outlook and Google calendar.

Facebook Tips

When I worked on the Intro to Facebook presentation I found a few simple tips or guidelines to using Facebook. These are great things to remember for both new users and seasoned veterans.

Facebook Tips

Mother’s Day Wordle

One of my Mother’s Day presents from Jack was a great Wordle sign of words he chose about me. Wordle is a fun online tool that allows you to make word clouds with any set of words you have. I was inspired to make one about my Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

mom wordle


This is the Wordle that Jack created for me.

mothers day wordle

Office 365 for Small Business

I have been using Office 365 for almost two years for my small business. It has been a great service for me at a reasonable price and very little downtime.

Before using Office 365, I had researched options to get my email, calendar and contacts onto an Exchange server, which would eliminate sync problems I was having between devices. Most services were double the price of Office 365 for just the Exchange portion and didn’t include the other services they provide.

Included with my Office 365 service is SharePoint access and website hosting. I recently moved our website over to Office 365 too. They have a few different templates to choose from and a pretty easy design interface. It works for our site, but if you need something more custom or have specific features it may not work for you.


Using an Exchange server has been more than worth the money for me. I am able to have my email, calendar, contacts and other elements of Outlook synced across my phone, iPad and laptops in real-time. Before this I would have to use a kluged system of POP3 for email, Google sync for calendar and periodic manual syncing for contacts. Things were never completely coordinated. Now I have access across multiple devices seamlessly and even have access through the web via the Office 365 portal.

The main drawback of Office 365 for Small Business is that you pay per user. However for me I only have two registered users, Jim and I, so it is still cheaper than using Exchange through another host. If you have more users than that it could become more expensive, but you get more services too.

If you own a small business and are looking for a way to get on an Exchange server and access the other Office tools, Office 365 is a great way to go.

What tools do you use for your small business?


I was not compensated in any way for this post by Microsoft or Office 365. These are just my opinions.

Facebook Groups: Tips & Benefits

Within Facebook you have the ability to create and join Groups. These Groups can be small or large, public or private and are useful in all sorts of different settings.

I am a member of many Groups, some for brainstorming ideas, others centered around a common cause or organizations to which I belong. No matter what the reason is for forming a Facebook Group they can be an incredibly useful tool.

Facebook Groups

Here are some tips and benefits of using Facebook Groups.

  1. Groups can be open, closed, or secret.
    • Open means everyone can see the Group, who is in it and what they post.
    • Closed means the Group and who is in it can be seen by anyone, but posts are only shown within the Group
    • Secret means the Group, members and posts are only seen by members.
  2. You don’t have to be friends with all the members of a Group to be in it. This is a great way to interact with different people without having thousands of friends.
  3. Photos can be uploaded by any Group member, similar to uploading photos in your profile.
  4. Members can also share documents and files. It is an easy way to distribute a file for editing too many people without having to email it.
  5. Specific Group events can also be created and manage on the Group calendar.
  6. Find or create Groups around common causes. I am a member of a Group of parents who have kids with Ocular Albinism and Oculocutaneous Albinism.
  7. Use Groups to coordinate local organizations. We have a Group for our cub scout pack where we share photos and event information.
  8. Groups can be used as a way to collaborate around a subject or project. I am a member of a Group where we talk about story ideas.
  9. Utilize Groups to share items. I have a community Group where we share children’s books as a way of promoting reading without spending a fortune on books.
  10. Connect with people from events through a Group. If you are attending a conference or workshop see if there is a Group and meet people ahead of time. After the conference continue to interact and dialog with people you have met.

Are you in any Facebook Groups? How are using Groups?

Diagramming With Creately

I recently found a new online diagramming tool called Creately. It has a simple easy to understand interface and many templates and types of diagrams to choose from. I have made a site map and a mind map for an e-book I am working on. Here is an intro video to help you get started using Creately.

Household Internet Map

I am my household’s tech support person and technology plan architect. I am starting a series being your household’s IT person. To begin with here is the map of our household internet use and devices within the house.

household internet map

Kids Tablet Comparison

Before Christmas I posted tips for choosing a tablet for your child. As a follow-up I wanted to give you a direct comparison of some of the options available on the market. All of them could be good solutions depending upon your situation. We chose to get Nexus 7’s for the boys because it gave us the greatest flexibility at a price we could afford.


70-697   , 200-310   , c2010-657   , 70-487   , 3002   , C_TSCM52_66   , 70-461   , 70-463   , API-571   , 642-997   , HP0-S41   , EX200   , 1Z0-470   , C_TERP10_66   , CCA-500   , 300-085   , MB5-705   , 400-201   , 000-106   , 300-115   , MB6-703   , 101-400   , 070-466   , 300-206   , 70-412   , HP0-S42   , 98-365   , 9L0-012   , 70-533   , CAP   , 70-347   , 350-018   , API-580   , 70-178   , M70-101   , 70-466   , 70-462   , CAS-002   , 9A0-385   , 642-999   , LX0-103   , 070-462   , AX0-100   , 1Z0-061   , 2V0-621D   , SY0-401   , 70-534   , PEGACPBA71V1   , PR000041   , 220-901   , C_HANATEC_10   , LX0-104   , 220-801   , PEGACSA71V1   , 000-089   , JK0-022   , M2090-732   , 1Z0-803   , 70-413   , 400-101   , 1Z0-144   , 70-346   , MB6-702   , 070-410   , AND-401   , 1Z0-809   , 300-070   , AWS-SYSOPS   , 400-051   , VCP550D   , 210-065   , NSE7   , C_TFIN52_66   , CGEIT   , CRISC   , 070-487   , NS0-157   , 70-417   , NS0-506   , 599-01   , CQA   , 600-455   , 1z0-434   , ICBB   , ICGB   , C_HANAIMP151   , MB2-704   , JN0-633   , 350-060   , 70-270   , IIA-CIA-PART3   , 1V0-601   , C_TAW12_731   , E05-001   , 200-120   , JN0-102   , 070-483   , 300-208   , 210-060   , ADM-201   , 1Z0-067   , 810-403   , 300-101   , 640-911   , C_TADM51_731   , 642-732   , 1Z0-804   , 300-209   , 70-480   , N10-006   , 74-343   , 600-460   , 350-029   , 70-980   , PMI-001   , C_HANATEC151   , 117-202   , 350-050   , VCP550   , 1Y0-201   , 000-017   , CBAP   , C2010-595   , 70-486   , 1Z0-051   , 700-501   , 1Z0-062   , c2010-652   , PK0-003   , OG0-093   , 000-080   , 1Z0-808   , 1V0-603   , 2V0-620   , 1Z0-434   , 700-037   , 101   , 500-260   , 220-802   , MB2-708   , 156-215-77   , CISSP   , IIA-CIA-PART2   , MB2-707   , 300-320   , 70-332   , 000-105   , 70-243   , 9L0-066   , 70-410   , 1K0-001   , 700-260   , 70-177   , SSCP   , 74-678   , 070-461   , CISM   , 70-411   , CISA   , 640-916   , 210-260   , 712-50   , M2090-744   , 350-080   , 1Z0-068   , 70-483   , 70-246   , JN0-360   , PMI-RMP   , 70-680   , 70-494   , 640-875   , 350-030   , 70-488   , JN0-332   , 102-400   , 352-001   , PMI-100   , EX300   , IIA-CIA-PART1   , 100-101   , NSE4   , PMP   , 1z0-808   , 070-346   , 350-001   , ITILFND   , 300-075   , 2V0-621   , OG0-091   , 640-692   , 1Z0-060   , 70-981   , 300-135   , CQE   , 70-532   , JN0-343   , 000-104   , 70-697   , 200-120   , 70-347   , 156-215-77   , C_TAW12_731   , M2090-732   , 70-243   , c2010-657   , 70-463   , 1Z0-434   , NSE7   , 70-347   , 70-462   , 70-417   , 300-209   , API-580   , 70-243   , 70-463   , NS0-157   , JN0-633   , 210-060   , 70-981   , 070-410   , 70-410   , c2010-657   , C2010-595   , 74-678   , ICGB   , N10-006   , ITILFND   , 220-901   , 70-533   , 700-037   , 1Z0-803   , 300-115   , VCP550D   , 70-483   , 810-403   , 700-037   , CGEIT   , 000-106   , 1Z0-434   , 500-260   , 1Z0-808   , 70-494   , 400-101   , M2090-732   , CQE   , MB2-708   , CAP   , 350-018   , 70-243   , 70-462   , CRISC   , 300-206   , C_HANATEC151   , 642-997   , C_TSCM52_66   , 1Z0-060   , 74-678   , 1Z0-808   , NSE7   , 300-070   , JK0-022   , 70-461   , 2V0-621   , 100-101   , JN0-343   , 70-486   , 70-533   , 600-455   , MB6-703   , 642-732   , 642-997   , 352-001   , PMP   ,