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Removing Birthdays From Your Samsung Galaxy S5 Calendar & Other Tech Talk

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Apr 5, 2016

For the second time this year I gave up the Monday spot for my I’m Just Sharing blog to my business blog, this time because yesterday was the 48th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and I had something to say. Y’all know how I can be.

Aufgenommen mit dem Huawei Mate S
Creative Commons License GillyBerlin via Compfight

Today I’m starting with a very brief tutorial on how to remove birthdays you didn’t put into your Samsung calendar. Stick with me through this because it might help some of you, and then I’ll have more to say.

1. Open your Calendar app
2. Look for the 3-dot column at the top right and push on it.
3. See Calendars and push on it. When you get the standard Samsung message just push on OK. Another menu might pop up asking you to sign into a Samsung account; just hit the back arrow (the bottom right area of your phone) to make it go away.
4. You’ll probably see everything checked in this column. Look near the bottom and you’ll see Birthdays. Uncheck that and you’re good to go.
5. There are other things there that you might want to uncheck, like Holidays. Before you leave uncheck other stuff you don’t want, and then go ahead and hit the arrow next to Calendars at the top left.

All that junk that was there is now gone; you can jump around as happy as a baby lamb. 🙂

Why was this such a big deal? Two reasons.

The first was because I couldn’t find the information anywhere online. Every suggestion started and ended with changing the Facebook app settings… only I don’t have Facebook on my phone. So it took some digging around for me to discover how to get rid of it.

The second is because I didn’t know hardly any of the people whose names were showing up on my calendar, and wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I know those names had never been there before the latest Galaxy s5 update because it’s the only thing I’ve updated that’s associated with my calendar. The names came from Gmail/Plus, and I haven’t updated either of those on the phone either because I don’t use Gmail and the updates to Plus created other problems a long time ago so I removed all updates and run the older version those few times I post anything there from the phone.

What is it about the people who create technology, paid or free, that has them decide how and when they’re allowed to be so intrusive or obstructive? Whose brilliant idea was it to load all those birthdays on my calendar when I don’t even have my birthday listed on any social media sites? For that matter, whose brilliant idea at Samsung was it to load so many more programs onto my phone that I don’t use and can’t get rid of, to the point that I couldn’t even update apps I wanted to for a while because I kept getting “insufficient space” errors? If y’all know me you know I don’t use tons of apps, so this made no sense.

They’re not alone. For years I’ve talked about the virtues of Tweetdeck, only to have Twitter decide they’re taking the standalone from me in just under 2 weeks. Luckily, I found an alternative called Tweeten:
 


https://youtu.be/Fhrzayp2qao

Another app I talked about as kind of a godsend for protecting passwords you wanted to save and take with you was Keeper, which I’m not linking to anymore. One day a couple of weeks ago they sent a message saying they were going to a paid-only model… and that we had 24 hours to decide or lose our passwords. Frankly, that irked me to no end, as I had to grab a pad and write down a bunch of passwords that were only on the phone because they got me into the wi-fi at restaurants. If they had given me a week I might have gone ahead and signed on but that just felt smarmy… so forget them! lol

Then Twitter and Instagram decided to do the Facebook thing (Facebook owns Instagram) and put photos on randomly instead of in date order. Or so they said, because what was left out is if you create your own list of people you want to follow on either of them you still get almost everything in date order; whew! That’s the same with Facebook where, if you add categories for the people you want to follow then you’ll still see those posts based on time. Of course, if you also use F B Purity you can do the same thing; just sayin’…

Here’s my overall gripe. Every time a site changes things up, and every time a company changes some of their technology, AND every time a food company changes the taste of their food (might as well drag them into this), they try to tell us that it’s either new and improved or to give users a better experience… and they know they’re lying. And they think we’re buying it!

I don’t know a single person who said they would never use Tweetdeck if they didn’t take away the standalone version. I’ve never heard a single person say they wouldn’t use Facebook or Instagram if they didn’t start randomizing their feed. I never heard anyone say to Pizza Hut (yeah, calling them out) that if they didn’t change up their wonderful sauce and start using cheaper ingredients and fake beef (you think I’m lying about that one, go to Pizza Hut and ask them what type of beef they’re using… it’ll be called “beef”) they would never eat another pan pizza.

I understand the need to make money. I understand the need to try to save on expenses when you need to. What I don’t understand is why these people outright lie to us and think we’re good with it. This isn’t 1950; we have this thing called the internet (which no one has to capitalize anymore… which I never would anyway…) where not only can we learn about these things, but we’re going to read all the hate from others who beat us to the punch and saved us from a horrible experience.

What do we do, whether we pay for things or not? Well, I’ve moved from Tweetdeck to Tweeten. I set up my groups so I don’t have to deal with randomization. I haven’t been to Pizza Hut in about 10 years or so. It turns out we do have choices; whether we decide to take them is always up to us.

What are you willing to put up with before you try something else?
 

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Fitbit Trackers; Let’s Talk

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Sep 24, 2015

My mother is a genius. She doesn’t know it but she is. That’s because in my life there have been two recommendations she made to me that I kind of dismissed that she thought were really important… and she turned out to be totally correct. The first one was a computer, which she and my dad bought for me on my 27th birthday; the second was the Fitbit Flex tracker, which she bought on my 55th birthday.

20150923_224128_resized

You see that picture to the right? That’s the wristband I wear that contains this little dongle that I’ll share in a different picture. The little dongle (that’s what they call it lol) is the actual contraption that tracks my steps and, when I remember to set it, tracks my sleep. It’s the steps part that’s been paramount towards my health over the last year or so.

I can’t comment on any other trackers that are out there, so I’m sticking with the one I know. In my opinion, it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever gotten. Mom bought me the first one; since that time I’ve purchased two others for myself and one for my wife.

You’re probably asking why I had to buy more than one; it’s not because it broke or went bad. I lost two of them; one in Memphis somewhere, the second on my final flight back from Memphis, where I knew I had it in Philadelphia but when I landed in Syracuse it wasn’t on my arm anymore; sigh… So, both totally on me.

As with everything, there’s the good and the bad and the questionable. Let’s start with the good.

When I first got it, I wasn’t totally sure of how accurate it was. Now I feel pretty good about its accuracy because I’ve run a lot of tests with it. In central New York, when it gets cold and snowy it’s not the smartest move in the world to be walking around outside. I hated going to the gym, so I created my own course in the house. I tested the steps thing and it’s right on the mark.

To track everything you need to download the Fitbit app onto your smartphone. Actually, that’s the smart way to go, because you can hook the charger to your computer, download software and go that route if you don’t have a phone. It’s just so much easier the other way.

It tracks steps, miles, calories burned and active minutes. The first one is the main goal but the one that’s most important are the active minutes. That’s the one that tells you whether the steps you took during the day were conscious steps, as in walking with a purpose, or just casual steps, like getting up from your desk to walk into another room. The more active minutes, the more calories you burn. If you tie it in with a food tracking app like Myfitnesspal it adds calories to your daily intake. That sounds pretty cool doesn’t it? Well, I’m going to come back to that.

You can also make adjustments based on your stride, which you determine based on your height. So, for me, it takes 10,575 steps to hit 5 miles, but my friend Steve (he’s 6’5″) can get it done in fewer steps. Anyway, that’s my daily goal, and I pretty much smash it every day, as I average between 17,000 and 20,000 steps a day. But there are times when I’m engaged in other work or travel and I know I’m not going to hit those numbers, but I always make sure to hit my 5 miles.

Oh yeah, I mentioned sleep earlier. If you double click on it the tracking mode changes over to track sleep. We all need good sleep. Unfortunately, I don’t sleep well, and this thing confirms it. I average about 2 1/2 hours of sleep a night; no, that’s not good. Most of my “sleeping hours” show me as being restless, which means I move a lot, wake, doze, wake, etc. So, in the morning it’ll show me how many total hours I was in bad, how much real sleep I got and when I got it. Hey, at least I know right?

The overall thing is that having something like Fitbit on you all the time encourages you to move; at least it does for me. I don’t have to count steps, it’s better than the old style pedometer, and if you’re willing you can add other people to your list and compete or just help to encourage each other to walk more. Frankly, anything that encourages us to move more is a good thing.

What it’s done for me is helped me lose inches. If no one’s ever told you that exercise doesn’t help you lose weight, I’m telling you that not. lol You lose weight by controlling what you eat. However, exercise helps you lose inches and get toned, and if you can also control how you eat, the combination works wonders. I’ve lost 4 inches off my waist to the point where I don’t have to undo any of my pants to pull them off; wow! Sometimes I don’t have to undo the belt either; what?!?!? :-O

Can you tell how much I love it? Good; now for the bad.

The wristbands aren’t close to being able to last overly long. My wife burns through her bands every 6 months; I go through one every 9 months or so. The thing is it’s made with some type of rubber that’s pliable enough, but you have to take the dongle out of it every few days to recharge, and over time that takes a toll on that area that stretches open all the time.

That and you can wear the band in the shower and in hot conditions because the dongle is protected, but all the weather changes will affect it also. The replacements aren’t all that expensive, and there are lots of varieties, but having to replace it that often puts some folks off.

I did mention the charging part also. Actually, last year when I was in Orlando for a meeting and then flew to San Diego I had lost my charger. My Fitbit worked for 6 days before it totally wussed out on me. That’s not so bad, but I like to try to charge it every 3 days if I can. I charge it around midnight, and the good thing is it charges fairly quickly if you don’t run it all the way down.

20150923_224159_resized

One last thing is the dongle isn’t all that big, as you can tell from the picture. If you’re not paying attention you can lose that… and if that’s lost you have to buy a whole new set since the dongle is actually the Fitbit.

Okay, time for the questionable.

How private is it and what about all the data they collect. It’s as private as you want it to be. People can only find you if you tell them you’re on it, and you can only be added if you have a Facebook account or if you send them email and they decide to connect. If any of you are on Fitbit and want to connect with me, leave me a message mentioning it and I’ll send you an email from the email account I use there and you can add me. Course, remember how many steps I’m getting in; we’re not really competing but I think I might have chased a couple of people off who didn’t realize how serious I was taking my walking. Lol

The question about data… that’s interesting. They track and data to sell to those who can use it for health studies, or for the creation of other types of products that someone might be able to create and market later. You get to set the levels of privacy via the online account you create (that’s where you’re directed to so it can start tracking you), which not only limits what others see about you but what can be shared with these outside sources. The only thing you can’t block is the number of steps you’re taking. They don’t share your email address and you only have to put in your first name, so that’s fairly private.

Finally, prices. I own the Fitbit Flex, where the price goes for between $79 and $99. The range depends on which band you buy and where you buy it from. At the link I’m sharing here where you can look at some before you go to the website I’m sending people to (Buy.com) most of the prices are around $79. There are other brands such as the Charge, which tracks a lot more things than the Flex does, and the Surge (which not only tracks even more things than the Surge but also acts as a watch) that come in around $215 and $250 respectively, and the Zip, which comes in around $60 but only tracks steps. There’s also the Fitbit One which, like the Zip, you wear on your pocket like a traditional pedometer that also comes in around $99.

This is a product I’ll be pushing because I love it so much. There’s a link to the right listed under Product Pages along with books I recommend. If I mention it in any further posts I’ll link to it and you’ll know it’s the product page because you’ll see a blue line underneath it (any time I link to products or affiliate items from this page the blue line is there, unless I’m linked only through the picture; otherwise it’s to an article); you already saw my example above.

If you have any questions please ask. I’ll be doing a video also, which might be strange because I’ve mentioned it in a few other videos, but I’ve never talked about it exclusively. Hey, that’s what marketing’s about right?
 

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Backwards Technology With Franklin Planner

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on May 14, 2014

You know, these days there’s so much stuff that’s electronic that, at least for me, at a certain point it seems like it’s too much and just isn’t as useful as it could be anymore. I thought that having all these bells and whistles would help my production, but once again it turns out not to be true. That’s why I’ve decided it’s time to go backwards in time, back to a day when I used to log all these things and track them on paper; what a concept right?

First a disclaimer. The images you see are affiliate links; you might be interested in checking them out but at least you know that up front.

Classic Simulated Leather Magnetic Binder - Black
Franklin Cover
Magnetic Binder

Anyway, what you see to the right is the Franklin Cover binder that I actually bought at Staples instead of via the link, and mine is burgundy instead of black, the only two colors it comes in for this model. I happened to be in Staples looking for… well, I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but it was actually last June and I felt like I didn’t have any control over what was going on.

I had been traveling at that point for just about six weeks (now it’s a year) and both at home and on the road I felt like I couldn’t keep up with anything. I had things to do at home and then things to do while out of town, and putting them into the smartphone wasn’t getting it done for two reasons.

One, I wasn’t keeping up with things that needed to get done all that well when I had to put them into the phone. Two, the alarms I could hear only let you plan things just under 7 days in advance, and I still can’t hear any alarms for things I put into the calendar.

Thus, I was looking for something, and I came to the Planner. I had used this in my past, as well as used the software package they had (which didn’t work with my computer all that well; I might have to tell that story some day), but the paper version actually worked really well for me.

Studies have proven that we tend to remember things better when we write them down, and that seeing lists helps you get thing done also. Over the years, whenever I’ve needed to get a lot of things done I not only have created outlines or lists, but I then print them out, enlarging them so I can look at them and carry them around with me if necessary. Even now I have a chart that I print whenever I’m leaving town to make sure I have everything I need with me.

I bought the planner and waited until I was back home for 4th of July holiday week before doing anything with it. I did two separate things. One, I started making a list of all the things I needed to get completed while I was home, which included a couple of appointments and a visit to my mother, who lives out of town. Two, I started a second list of goals I wanted to achieve and things I wanted to take care of.

Classic Seasons Ring-bound One-Page-Per-Day Planner Refill - Jul 2014 - Jun 2015
Seasons One-Page-Per-Day
Planner Refill, 7/14 – 6/15

I could do that because while out of town I decided to order the planner refill you see to the left, Seasons, not only because I love colors, but because it gives the ability to chart full days and list a full days worth of notes, lists, or other items. At the beginning of each other are some extra pages where you can carry over things from the previous month or list new things you want to accomplish in the coming month. Or you can plan six months out; that is, as long as you have the pages for it.

How well as it worked for me? That first time I ended up with 18 things on my list and got 17 of them finished. Over the Christmas holiday, when I was home for 2 weeks, I got all but two items completed, and that’s because I kept adding things to the list. It turns out that with the planner I’m really productive, and that includes with writing articles for blogs, mine and for other people (when needed). Also, being able to pass on motivational messages to myself from one month to the next makes me feel pretty good.

Here’s the funny thing. I thought it was just something I was going to be doing, along with my friend Kelvin who’s always kept one with him. Then I found out that my wife had bought one, though not quite the same style as mine, and another friend of mine was starting to go that route as well. Then I did a search on YouTube and found that there were a lot of people who were deciding to either give it a try or were extolling the virtues of planners over technology.

Of course, there’s the small downside that I’m going to mention in the interest of fairness. Unless I have a specific need for it, I find that I don’t travel well with it. Twice I left it in restaurants. While on the road right now I’m not in a leadership position but working in a research capacity, and on weekends I’m too tired to be able to concentrate on many projects so I found it not being all that helpful while out of town.

However, when I have a true need for it, or I want to reconcile things, it’s great having it with me for things such as meetings, where it’s easy to take notes and know they’re on the date I actually met with someone. And being able to sit in the car afterwards and add notes while things are still fresh in my mind… can’t beat that.

There are lots of different binder designs and sizes, and lots of different inserts. Because I pay for the largest planner package they have, I can only fit 3 months at a time in the binder. So I bought this other large binder where I can store all the remaining months in and a sleeve to protect the sheets. That’s unnecessary stuff that I just decided to buy. You can get smaller planners with a day on a page, or a couple of days on a page, or planners that are like calendars with extra note pages.

My final words are that I use Franklin Covey because I like the look, and because I like being able to take all those notes and mark things off when I complete them. There are other brands you might like better, or might want to try, such as Filo-Fax, which I’ve never seen but another friend loves. I’m pimping this one because I use it, but overall I’m recommending that if you’re having problems staying on target with your plans or tasks that maybe stepping back a few years in time might help your focus. Can’t hurt. 🙂
 

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Westinghouse Customer Service; Worst Ever!

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 30, 2013

Yeah, I know, some people say that bloggers shouldn’t write about personal stuff on their blogs. Sorry but this time not only must I, but it’s going to go beyond just being a personal complaint. Stick with me and heed my warning, if you will.

WestinghouseStinks

Just after Christmas I went out looking to find a relatively inexpensive 32″ flat screen TV for my office. I had gone to a few places and found myself at Best Buy. In the back around TVs of similar size I came across a Westinghouse 32″ flat screen TV for $189. That was amazing, as it was about $50 less than its closest competitor. I asked one of the Best Buy guys why this TV was so inexpensive, because the image I saw looked pretty good, and he said they were trying to grow in the market by keeping their prices low. Sounded good to me, the price was right, so I bought it.

Got it home, set it up, all looked good. Very clear picture, and I was finally able to take advantage of the digital hookup I have here in the office. I pulled out my Time Warner remote, set it up so it would handle turning the TV on and off, and off I went.

Or so I thought. It seemed that other than turning the TV off and on, anything else I did with the remote, at least every 2nd or 3rd thing, made the TV try to reset itself. Thus, I had to go to the remote that came with the TV and reset it. I thought this would be a one time issue, but no, it’s an issue that’s continued for the almost month I’ve owned the TV. I thought maybe it was the Time Warner remote because I’d programmed the TV to it so I tried the other 2 remotes I have in the house for Time Warner, those that weren’t set up with the TV; they also made the TV reset itself.

What the hey? So, within 4 days after buying the TV, I went online to their customer service page, wrote up my complaint, and submitted it. Almost immediately I got an email saying they would be contacting me within 2 business days. To make a long story short, after 15 phone calls and two more online customer complaints, I’ve heard nothing. Oh yeah, I’ve gotten to talk to people most of the time; that’s the 15. The times I’m not counting is when I went through the phone prompts and either got a busy signal or had the phone up and disconnect on me. I also tried to contact them 3 times through Twitter, as they have a handle there(@WestinghouseTV; try sending them a message telling them how bad you heard they are; they won’t respond).

The final straw was last night when I called at 6:20 their time (9:20 my time), said I was calling for the 15th time looking for service, was put on hold and they kept me there until 7PM their time, when their customer service office shuts down. What the hey? In other words, they never came back. Me being me, I stayed online (speaker phone) for another 10 minutes of stubbornness; nothing!

That’s when I decided it was time to call them out in a blog post. But y’all know me; I don’t just roll like that. I decided to look up complaints about their customer service issues, and man, what a load I found!

This site called Customer Services Scoreboard ranked them at #589 out of 593 for worst customer service; I don’t even want to know who could possibly be ranked worse.

On this page of Best Buy reviews, of all things, I found many people with the same complaint as mine. What’s shocking is that it ranks 3.6 out of 5 stars, and even those who ranked it high state they had the same issue as mine, but like the picture. Really, you don’t mind having to reset your TV every time you use it? Should I have fussed at @BestBuy for selling the TV in the first place?

I would add a bunch more but there’s no point. I remember when I was much, much younger Westinghouse used to be a company known for quality. Those days are obviously long gone; products, customer service, stinky! People, save your money, save your peace of mind, don’t buy anything from this company, no matter the price. If you don’t believe me, do a search on Google; mine showed 3,100,000 references to complaints against them. However, this will be in the top 10,000 blog posts about how lousy they are; now that’s a shame! 🙁
 

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Nook HD From Barnes & Noble

Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Jan 18, 2013

Last March I wrote about the Nook 8GB Color Tablet that I bought for my wife the previous October, saying how much I liked it, though I didn’t have one, and how she was happy to have it. Well, this year I bought one a few days after Christmas, only better than the one I bought her, and I’m talking about it as well as putting in a product link if you want to check it out; hey, I’m allowed to try to make money here and there, right? 🙂

icon
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Nook HD

The tablet I purchased was the Nook HDicon, and it’s a major step above the one I bought her, in more ways than one.

I’ll get to the immediate details that concern the HD part of it all. Initially I couldn’t figure out why I wanted the HD; turns out I didn’t have much of a choice. They discontinued making the one I bought her in favor of the upgrade, and it only makes sense. While she could watch videos that we can download off YouTube (Nooks play MP4 video files), she couldn’t watch any HD videos on hers, and sometimes that’s the only choice you’re given. On mine, I get full HD, which is pretty cool.

Next, let’s talk capacity. Her Nook was an 8GB, which was as high as it went, and you could put a 32GB microSD card in it for more storage. Mine came in either 8 or 16 GB, but I can put as much as a 64GB microSD in it, though I went for the 32GB for now because of the price. So you know, I bought the microSD at Staples rather than at B&N or at Best Buy because it cost less; that might not always be the case. Why do you need more capacity? Because HD files take up a lot more space, even at 16GB, which I filled up, surprisingly.

Because I bought my own, I know more about it and thus I can now talk more about all the features. I have paid for and downloaded two books onto it. One of those books I actually purchased for real, but it was too big and unwieldy to carry around anywhere, and way too big to even read in bed. The Nook HD is 7″ high, light and easy to carry, and has a nice range of brightness so that I can make it either really bright, which is crystal clear, or darken it, which I do when reading late at night and my eyes don’t want to deal with all that light.

A neat thing about the books is that you can change sizes of the font, font colors, fonts themselves and the color of the background. That’s pretty neat, something the old one couldn’t do. And you have them for as long as you have your Nook.

Magazines will be interesting for me. There’s one I still subscribe to, PC World, and I’m thinking about switching it to the Nook. The magazines stay as long as you want them, and of course it’s easier to carry magazines around with you on the Nook than taking them outside of the house. And it turns out that the price of the magazines is the same as the price of regular magazines; neat. You can also subscribe to newspapers but the choices are limited, and I couldn’t find one that addressed local news so I won’t be going that route.

You can move both audio and video files, as well as images. The sound isn’t bad, and you can buy small speakers to attach if the sound isn’t loud enough for you. However, I’ve found that the sound on the HD is better and louder naturally than on the original. And the types of videos I’ve been adding have been things like TED talks, documentaries, and some cartoons. Some of these things I watch, then delete; a few I plan on keeping, such as the 20 minute opening to the movie The Secret, which always seems to make me feel better.

It’s also wi-fi if you happen to be in an area where you can access it. If you’re in B&N itself you can read books for up to an hour on the Nook for free, which could be a way to get around having to buy a book if you’re sneaky like that. However, you have to sign in with a credit card, which I wasn’t up for. Still, being able to access the internet is cool. And there are apps you can search for and add; I added Evernote since I have it on my computers and my smartphone; access everywhere!

One last thing. The battery holds much longer than using my smartphone, which immediately makes it a better reader overall. I’ve loaded some of my pdf files (yeah, I have lots of them) and my Word Doc files (I’m working on a detective story, as some of you know), as it accepts those formats as well as many others. Frankly, last year I was kicking myself because I didn’t buy one sooner, and now I think I’d have been kicking myself if I hadn’t waited for the HD.

That’s all I can think about to say so I’ll leave it there. By the way, it’s still rated higher than the Kindle; just thought I’d toss that into the mix. I love this thing, so I have no hesitation in talking about it and in trying to help market it. Any questions, just ask, but I hope you check it out if you want something that’s more than just a reader.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2013 Mitch Mitchell